The Streets of San Carlos.

September 11, 2015

What's in a Name?

You've undoubtedly noticed as you're walking the streets of San Carlos — perhaps dropping your kids of at White Oaks School, taking the dog for an evening stroll, or just heading downtown for dinner — that the name of the street that you're on is frequently etched into the sidewalk, usually at a corner like this:

And if you happen to be paying extra close attention as you walk along this very same street, you'll notice that the name inexplicably changes…to this:

Photo Sep 04, 10 21 28 AM (1)

Hmmm…Did you suddenly transport to a street several blocks away?  Were the sidewalk contractors hitting the martinis over lunch? Or did you find a mysterious intersection of two streets that are actually parallel?

Of course not.  There's actually a good reason for this discrepancy, and it explains why you see this very same phenomenon on a number of streets in the flats of San Carlos.

Cedar Wasn't Always Cedar.

The explanation lies in the fact that a number of the streets in the White Oaks, Oak Park, and Howard Park neighborhoods of San Carlos don't carry their original namesake. When San Carlos was first incorporated, many of the streets carried quite different names – some of which have been slightly altered, some changed entirely, and others simply moved to another street.

Sounds confusing?  Take a look at a the old map from 1925 that I pulled from the title report of one of my recent listings:

Cedar Map

This map almost looks like it's describing a different city, but it's actually San Carlos — just an older version. Starting with the minor changes, Howard Avenue used to be called Howard Boulevard.  And Greenwood used to be a Drive, not an Avenue.  But what's more interesting are the major changes that took place to the street names.

Cedar Street used to be called Woodland Avenue!  And what we know now as Chestnut Street apparently used to be called Orchard Avenue. And to confuse matters entirely, a street once named Kendall Avenue is the new home for Woodland Avenue… er, which was the former name of Cedar Street.  Got all that?

Wait… it gets better.

Cedar Map-2

…continuing along our little journey down Howard Boulevard (er, Avenue) — if we compare this map to the current map, what we know today as Rosewood Avenue was once called Madison Avenue (yes, San Carlos had its own Madison Avenue.)  So this means that today's Elm Street was once called Rosewood Avenue, which was once Madison Avenue…

Sheesh, already.

So does that mean that Walnut Street used to be called Johnson Avenue?  Apparently so. And the biggest surprise (If I'm reading this correctly) is that Laurel Street used to be called Horton Avenue, and back in 1925 it wasn't even a continuous street.

So the reason that there are several different names etched into the same street is that there are simply old parts of the sidewalk that have not been replaced from way they were originally installed. That answers the question of what happened with the street names.  But why were the names changed in the first place??

That may indeed be the 8th Wonder of San Carlos.

Have a fabulous weekend!

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  1. Sandra C. on September 11, 2015 at 4:52 pm

    When I first moved to San Carlos I visited the S.C. History Museum to ask about this. All they could tell me is that the original developers carved the names into the sidewalk according to some master plan but that the street names were switched around when they decided to “extend” downtown streets like Cedar and Elm southward.

  2. Eddie B. on September 11, 2015 at 9:27 pm

    The map shows Howard Boulevard and Greenwood Drive. They’re both Avenues now.

  3. Eddie B. on September 11, 2015 at 10:06 pm

    D’oh!! I skipped that paragraph the first time I read it!

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