SYA: A road by any other name would still be a street

Can you tell us how street names are chosen? In Medford, there is a wide variety of street names, especially women's names.

— Terry W., Medford

While fruits, flowers and trees seem to make for pretty popular street names in Medford, we here at the Since You Asked Department of Street Names never noticed a preponderance of female names as we have circulated through this fair city. But now that you mention it, Terry, there is Jessica Circle, Jeannette Avenue, Jennie Way and let's not forget, Queen Anne Avenue, just to name a few. Then we found Jim Circle, Hogan Avenue, Scott Street and Wyatt Drive.

The naming of streets in Medford is not as simple as one would imagine. The city even has a database address technician by the name of Paula Hoffman who has, among other duties, the responsibility to coordinate the complicated process of picking a street name.

"It's pretty involved," she said. "There's a lot of time and effort."

She said developers generally submit the names of streets for a subdivision. The city then checks to make sure the name doesn't already exist. Then the names are sent to the emergency services groups because they don't like confusion when they are sending out ambulances and fire engines. The post office also likes to review the names. Before about 20 years ago, Hoffman said the city wasn't particular about street names, so you might see some duplication. Obnoxious names will turn somebody off from buying a house in a subdivision, she said. We at Since You Asked know of a woman in Ashland who wanted the name of Clinton Street changed because it reminded her of the former president. Hoffman said a man from Brooklyn wanted both the street and the street number changed so it would be the same as his house in Brooklyn. People are also superstitious, not wanting say the number "13" or "666."

As to why there are so many woman's names, Hoffman said people are very attached to street names. They sometimes bring good and bad emotions.

"There are fights over street names all the time. Someone will say, 'Well, it's my mom's name." She said one local man created a subdivision off Ross Lane and named all the streets after his children.

Lately, new subdivisions have themes. One off McAndrews Road has the streets named after wines, while another has Italian names.

So there you go, Terry. It's a long and winding road to come up with a street name.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by e-mail to

Share This Story