TBT: The Streets of San Carlos.

January 21, 2021


Since the creation the White Oaks Blog in 2007, I have written over 1,700 different articles about real estate and life in San Carlos. That's a LOT of content! I will be the first to admit that not every one of these articles were home runs or perfect specimens of journalism, and I've learned a ton from writing this blog for 14 years. But there are a number of popular posts whose content is still very relevant today, and have been literally buried in the archives of the blog. Each week, I'll pull one of these topics, sweep away some of the dust, and repost them under this new TBT series each Thursday. Below is the first in the series, and was a very popular discussion on why some of the streets in White Oaks don't always match what you read on the sidewalks. Enjoy!

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.

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, which explains why you see both street names etched on what is today's Cedar Street.   The current location of Woodland Avenue was originally named Kendall Avenue, and what we know now as Chestnut Street used to be called Orchard Avenue. Got all that?

Wait… it gets better.

Cedar Map-2

Continuing our journey down Howard Boulevard (now 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), and today's Elm Street was once called Rosewood Avenue.  Walnut Street used to be called Johnson Avenue, 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.

The reason that you see 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 many years ago. 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.

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