As a person once victimized by the subdivision street-namers in Fairfax County, the conductor of metro Scene was fascinated--as no doubt, were countless other readers--by staff wrtiter Barbara Carton's article yesterday on the naming of streets. As our suburban counties are developed, it becomes increasingly difficult to find sensible unique names. Some selections are bizarre.
Thus I once found myself living, blessedly briefly, on Jillspring Court in Springfield. Imagine the number of tiresome jokes by supposed friends about my going up the hill to fetch a pail of water and breaking my crown on the way down.
In the beginning, street and road names -- here and elsewhere -- were rooted in the history or the geography of the community. The Boston Post Road in Westchester County and Connecticut, for example, was the road over which the mail carriages traveled.
Thus it was in Fairfax County that Ox Road was where oxen pulled carts, Rolling Road was where casks of tobacco were rolled toward the Potomac port, Gallows Road led to the place where criminals were hanged, Telegraph Road paralleled the communications line into the Virginia countryside and the Little River Turnpike was a toll road that led toward the Loudoun County stream that provided its name.
In the District of Columbia, early settlers are memorialized by such names as Loughborough and Foxhall (both misspelled -- the family names were Loughboro and Foxall), Belt, Benning and Sheriff.
In Montgomery County, the Viers family mill is represented by one of the major arterials; and Brookeville Road, while broken into segments, leads from Chevy Chase to the old community that produced its name. In Prince George's, you'll find the Old Alexandria Ferry Road leading toward a dock on the Potomac shore.
Arlington has its Glebe Road -- a glebe was a rural church residence -- and its Arlington Ridge Road, but (despite large numbers of historically evocative names provided in relatively recent years) few other streets with true historic roots. Two arterials memorialize trolley lines that gave up the ghost in the 1930s: Old Dominion Drive, where the Washington & Old Dominion Railroad line to Great Falls ran, and Fairfax Drive, which provided the roadbed for the Arlington & Fairfax Railway from Rosslyn through Clarendon and Vienna to Fairfax City.