In 1993, the U.S. Census released tally of the 76 most common street names in America. For well over 20 years, this was pretty much the only list that anyone had.

Why?

Two reasons. First, though the government maintains digital maps on every road segment, trail, and path in America, making sense of them is tricky. (Skip to our methodology section for details—there are philosophical debates about what constitutes a road. Seriously.)

Second, one might argue that this is the worst kind of idle question. Are we so bored, as a nation, that we want to investigate road names? Isn’t there poverty to alleviate? Aren’t there Housewives to gawk at?

But road names are pieces of history. They encode the culture and geography of America. In Arizona, popular street names are Apache, Palo Verde, Mesquite. In New Mexico, Cedar and Pinon top the list; In Colorado, it’s Aspen and Spruce.

More on that in a bit; first, here are the 1,000 most popular road names in America as calculated from 2014 road data.

There are some discrepancies from the 1993 Census report. For decades we have believed that the most popular name for a road was “2nd.” But by my analysis, that crown actually goes to “Park.” (Again, look to the methodology section for a discussion of this.)

Out of over a million roads in the United States, 9,640 are named “Park.” Only 8,232 are named “2nd,” or “Second.”

Still, both the Census and I agree that “2nd” is a more popular road name than “1st.” The most convincing explanation anyone has come up with so far is that in many towns the primary thoroughfare is “Main” street instead of “1st” street. Because those two names split the honor, so to speak, they tumble in the rankings.

Trees, numbers, and presidents are the most popular names for streets, which is understandable. These are practical, unoffensive choices. Surnames are common too; parts of the list look like a phone directory from Plymouth Rock. Or else we name our streets after landmarks: Hill (3,942) or School (2,610) or Airport (2,393).

The interesting patterns start to emerge when we look state-by-state. Here is a map of the most popular street names in each state:


“Magnolia” and “Dogwood” are popular in the South, while “Maple” is popular in the North. The two “Oak” states are Oklahoma and Arkansas.

In the West and Midwest, the most common street name is a number — though “2nd” does not always come out first. In Nevada, Idaho, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Minnesota and Iowa, “1st” is the most popular name.

Then there are the unique states. The official flower of the island of Hawaii is the Lehua; it’s also the most popular street name in the state. As the legend goes, Lehua and ʻŌhiʻa were two young Hawaiian lovers. In a fit of jealousy one day, the volcano goddess Pele turned ʻŌhiʻa into a tree. Lehua begged and begged, and eventually she became a flower adorning the ʻŌhiʻa tree.

In Virginia, the most popular street name, by a nose, is “Lee.” It’s unclear what the mythology there is.

(Update: Because sarcasm doesn’t work on the internet, many people wrote in because they thought we missed the Robert E. Lee connection. To be clear—yes, I do believe that Confederate sympathies explain the number of “Lee” streets in Virginia. There are also, by the way, a ton of “Davis” streets in the state.)

I’ve published the top-ten lists for each state below so you can take a look for more patters. Consider that in Alabama, Mississippi and Virginia, “Jackson” is in the top-10, but not any other president, not even Washington. In his home state of Illinois, Lincoln makes the top 10, but Washington doesn’t.

(Update: Many people also wrote in to point out that most of the “Jackson” streets are probably named after Stonewall, not Andrew. That sounds plausible to me!) 

In Utah, numbered streets like “S 400″ are common because of a Mormon rule about how cities should be laid out. Or look at how prevalent “Airport” roads are in Alaska, where planes are crucial to the survival of many towns. “Columbine” is popular in Colorado, where it’s the name of the state flower.

Here is where this project becomes participatory. We have some fun ideas planned for this data, but we want to hear yours too. In the coming weeks, we’ll show you not just the most popular names in each state, but the most distinctive—that is to say, the names that are common in a state but less common outside of it.

We’ll also look at presidents with the most streets named after them; the relative popularity of Martin Luther King streets versus Robert E. Lee streets; that sort of thing.

Comment below, or tweet at me: @_jeffguo.

More:

Top 10 street names in each state:

Alabama
Dogwood, 240
2nd / Second, 212
1st / First, 210
Pine, 206
3rd / Third, 204
4th / Fourth, 203
Oak, 203
Park, 203
5th / Fifth, 188
Jackson, 178

Alaska
2nd / Second, 73
3rd / Third, 68
1st / First, 64
Airport, 55
Spruce, 53
4th / Fourth, 47
Birch, 44
5th / Fifth, 43
Main, 41
Willow, 41

Arizona
Apache, 120
1st / First, 116
Palo Verde, 112
Mesquite, 110
Sunset, 110
2nd / Second, 108
Navajo, 107
3rd / Third, 103
Quail, 98
4th / Fourth, 94

Arkansas
Oak, 199
Main, 195
Park, 175
Pine, 171
2nd / Second, 167
Cedar, 167
Elm, 156
Maple, 155
3rd / Third, 153
Dogwood, 150

California
Park, 367
Oak, 344
Pine, 318
Sunset, 306
Cedar, 303
Willow, 289
1st / First, 271
Cypress, 269
2nd / Second, 266
Redwood, 258

Colorado
Aspen, 187
2nd / Second, 169
1st / First, 168
Spruce, 159
Cedar, 157
Park, 155
3rd / Third, 152
4th / Fourth, 149
5th / Fifth, 147
Columbine, 141

Connecticut
Park, 78
Laurel, 71
Maple, 69
Lake, 63
Sunset, 63
Meadow, 62
West, 58
Hillside, 55
Evergreen, 54
Ridge, 54

Delaware
Holly, 31
Park, 28
Dogwood, 26
Maple, 25
2nd / Second, 23
Church, 23
Pine, 23
Delaware, 22
Willow, 22
Bay, 21

Florida
2nd / Second, 434
6th / Sixth, 426
4th / Fourth, 416
5th / Fifth, 414
1st / First, 413
3rd / Third, 396
7th / Seventh, 394
8th / Eighth, 388
10th / Tenth, 366
9th / Ninth, 365

Georgia
Dogwood, 408
Oak, 401
Pine, 401
Park, 344
Williams, 278
Magnolia, 276
Lake, 266
Lakeview, 259
Church, 255
Cedar, 252

Hawaii
Lehua, 20
Kukui, 13
9th / Ninth, 12
4th / Fourth, 11
Kahili, 11
11th / Eleventh, 10
12th / Twelfth, 10
Aloha, 10
Malulani, 10
13th / Thirteenth, 9

Idaho
1st / First, 108
2nd / Second, 104
3rd / Third, 101
Main, 91
4th / Fourth, 90
Park, 88
5th / Fifth, 86
Pine, 79
Aspen, 70
6th / Sixth, 66

Illinois
Park, 461
Oak, 347
Lincoln, 344
Maple, 321
1st / First, 317
2nd / Second, 315
3rd / Third, 297
Hickory, 297
Walnut, 281
Washington, 275

Indiana
Park, 284
County Line, 269
Maple, 269
Oak, 224
1st / First, 211
Walnut, 204
Main, 202
2nd / Second, 192
Sycamore, 188
Washington, 187

Iowa
1st / First, 320
3rd / Third, 296
2nd / Second, 289
Park, 278
4th / Fourth, 271
5th / Fifth, 267
6th / Sixth, 239
7th / Seventh, 227
Maple, 226
8th / Eighth, 224

Kansas
1st / First, 272
2nd / Second, 240
3rd / Third, 234
4th / Fourth, 224
10th / Tenth, 208
5th / Fifth, 204
6th / Sixth, 195
Kansas, 176
Main, 175
Washington, 169

Kentucky
Maple, 202
Park, 177
Walnut, 171
Oak, 164
Main, 161
Dogwood, 156
Johnson, 152
Smith, 151
Wilson, 146
2nd / Second, 143

Louisiana
Magnolia, 175
Oak, 174
3rd / Third, 155
2nd / Second, 153
Pine, 153
Main, 144
6th / Sixth, 143
Park, 143
Cypress, 138
1st / First, 135

Maine
Main, 140
Shore, 117
Birch, 98
Sunset, 97
Spruce, 95
Cedar, 91
Maple, 90
Evergreen, 84
Pine, 84
Hemlock, 82

Maryland
Park, 108
Oak, 93
Maple, 91
Cedar, 80
Holly, 77
Pine, 76
Washington, 72
Church, 70
Walnut, 65
1st / First, 63

Massachusetts
Park, 111
Maple, 110
Highland, 92
Oak, 91
Cedar, 87
Pine, 83
Laurel, 81
Pleasant, 81
Hillside, 80
Lincoln, 79

Michigan
Maple, 424
Park, 375
Lake, 333
Pine, 330
Oak, 328
Cedar, 283
2nd / Second, 266
Lakeview, 265
1st / First, 263
Birch, 242

Minnesota
1st / First, 412
3rd / Third, 367
2nd / Second, 364
4th / Fourth, 337
5th / Fifth, 330
Park, 325
6th / Sixth, 301
7th / Seventh, 269
10th / Tenth, 248
8th / Eighth, 244

Mississippi
Magnolia, 172
Oak, 172
Dogwood, 159
Pine, 152
2nd / Second, 142
Jackson, 140
Johnson, 136
Church, 135
3rd / Third, 133
1st / First, 130

Missouri
Park, 328
Oak, 323
Maple, 293
Walnut, 276
Cedar, 258
Elm, 246
2nd / Second, 244
3rd / Third, 238
Main, 235
Hickory, 230

Montana
2nd / Second, 192
1st / First, 183
3rd / Third, 170
4th / Fourth, 149
5th / Fifth, 149
6th / Sixth, 123
Main, 102
7th / Seventh, 101
Park, 98
8th / Eighth, 85

Nebraska
1st / First, 172
2nd / Second, 170
3rd / Third, 150
4th / Fourth, 148
Park, 136
5th / Fifth, 127
Main, 124
6th / Sixth, 117
A, 111
8th / Eighth, 109

Nevada
1st / First, 37
Park, 35
2nd / Second, 34
5th / Fifth, 33
Canyon, 32
3rd / Third, 31
Cottonwood, 31
Cedar, 30
Pioneer, 29
4th / Fourth, 28

New Hampshire
Maple, 61
Spruce, 56
Hemlock, 54
Pine, 53
Park, 52
River, 51
Shore, 50
Birch, 49
Sunset, 49
Mountain View, 46

New Jersey
Park, 184
Oak, 162
Maple, 160
Cedar, 151
Washington, 145
Laurel, 137
Pine, 133
Lincoln, 131
Willow, 129
Holly, 120

New Mexico
Cedar, 85
Pinon, 81
2nd / Second, 74
Pine, 74
Juniper, 73
Sunset, 72
Aspen, 71
Cottonwood, 66
4th / Fourth, 63
Main, 63

New York
Park, 451
Maple, 314
Lake, 292
Sunset, 245
Pine, 243
Main, 228
Oak, 222
North, 210
1st / First, 203
River, 202

North Carolina
Dogwood, 328
Park, 304
Oak, 261
Pine, 245
Ridge, 234
Cedar, 225
Maple, 225
Sunset, 220
Church, 204
2nd / Second, 193

North Dakota
2nd / Second, 214
1st / First, 210
3rd / Third, 199
4th / Fourth, 197
6th / Sixth, 184
5th / Fifth, 173
7th / Seventh, 146
Main, 131
8th / Eighth, 122
10th / Tenth, 104

Ohio
Park, 418
Maple, 340
Oak, 249
Main, 242
Walnut, 237
North, 222
West, 216
Lincoln, 214
2nd / Second, 212
Elm, 209

Oklahoma
Oak, 241
1st / First, 235
3rd / Third, 224
Cedar, 221
2nd / Second, 217
County Line, 213
4th / Fourth, 208
Broadway, 202
Elm, 199
5th / Fifth, 195

Oregon
2nd / Second, 172
3rd / Third, 165
1st / First, 156
4th / Fourth, 154
7th / Seventh, 144
5th / Fifth, 142
Park, 140
Cedar, 137
6th / Sixth, 136
8th / Eighth, 127

Pennsylvania
Maple, 542
Park, 478
Oak, 463
Pine, 427
2nd / Second, 391
3rd / Third, 382
Church, 376
Ridge, 363
Cherry, 360
1st / First, 357

Rhode Island
Park, 29
Shore, 24
Maple, 23
Highland, 22
Pine, 22
Cedar, 20
Meadow, 20
Narragansett, 20
River, 20
Wood, 20

South Carolina
Park, 165
Dogwood, 142
Oak, 129
Pine, 127
Cedar, 120
Smith, 113
Church, 110
Hampton, 108
Magnolia, 101
Maple, 101

South Dakota
1st / First, 170
2nd / Second, 164
3rd / Third, 160
4th / Fourth, 145
5th / Fifth, 126
Main, 122
6th / Sixth, 109
7th / Seventh, 98
Park, 91
8th / Eighth, 77

Tennessee
Dogwood, 227
Oak, 210
Park, 200
Maple, 195
Church, 193
Main, 185
Cedar, 183
Smith, 172
Hickory, 170
Sunset, 165

Texas
Park, 590
Oak, 587
2nd / Second, 495
1st / First, 486
Pecan, 468
3rd / Third, 466
Cedar, 463
4th / Fourth, 443
Main, 417
5th / Fifth, 407

Utah
Main, 97
Park, 86
Aspen, 84
Cottonwood, 78
Canyon, 74
Center, 72
Sunset, 72
S 400, 69
S 100, 66
N 400, 65

Vermont
Park, 55
Mountain View, 46
Hill, 44
Maple, 40
Birch, 39
Meadow, 38
River, 38
Hillside, 37
Cedar, 34
Sunset, 34

Virginia
Lee, 188
Park, 185
Oak, 184
Cedar, 181
Dogwood, 174
Maple, 173
Pine, 171
Ridge, 168
Jackson, 148
Main, 141

Washington
3rd / Third, 255
1st / First, 248
2nd / Second, 244
4th / Fourth, 230
Park, 221
5th / Fifth, 219
8th / Eighth, 193
7th / Seventh, 187
6th / Sixth, 177
10th / Tenth, 176

West Virginia
Maple, 184
Park, 136
Walnut, 126
1st / First, 125
Oak, 124
3rd / Third, 120
2nd / Second, 119
Pine, 112
River, 111
Orchard, 108

Wisconsin
Park, 377
Maple, 305
Pine, 300
Oak, 289
River, 256
Lake, 250
1st / First, 236
Elm, 234
County Line, 231
2nd / Second, 230

Wyoming
2nd / Second, 72
Park, 65
3rd / Third, 64
1st / First, 58
4th / Fourth, 54
6th / Sixth, 53
Aspen, 52
Cedar, 49
5th / Fifth, 48
Cottonwood, 48

Methodology notes

Kudos for making it to this section!

Sometimes, the simplest questions are the trickiest to answer. The government maintains maps of every road in America. The problem is that often the roads are each broken up into a bunch of different segments. It’s sometimes not obvious which segments belong to the same road, and which segments belong to different roads.

For instance, in many cities, there’s a 2nd Street that stops on one side of a park, then continues on the other side. Should these be counted as one road, or different roads? What if the city has two 2nd Streets running in parallel, one along the north side, and one along the south side?

There were some tricks that I used. In the data, road segments each had a unique ID number. If these IDs were consecutive, or nearly consecutive, that usually meant that administratively, they belonged to the same road—even if they weren’t continuous. I also took segments and compared them to each other geographically. If they were within roughly half a mile of each other, I considered them parts of the same road. Then it was just a matter of counting the number of different groups of road segments. (In graph theory, that’s finding the number of connected components.)

To keep the computation time under control, I looked at roads in one county at a time. That meant if a road crossed county lines, it was counted twice. However, I found that many roads crossing county lines either do not have proper names (like numbered interstates or state highways) or the roads change names at the border.

When the Census counted streets back in 1993, they did it a simpler way. If any two streets had the same name in the same county, they were counted as the same street — no matter how far away they were. This is a good approximation, since most counties have rules about duplicate street names.

If a street had directional prefixes or suffixes, I ignored them. All that mattered is whether there was a link between the two roads. If N Main St. was connected to S Main St., I counted them as the same road. If N Main St. was not connected to S Main St., I counted them as separate roads. In the Census methodology, those two streets would have been considered separate streets whether they were connected or not. This, I believe, makes a big difference in how many roads I counted compared to how many roads the Census cartographers counted. (I did make one exception: If a road only had 2 words in the name, like “N 400,” I didn’t filter out any suffixes or prefixes.)

If one road was called Park St. and another was called Park Ave., I counted them as separate roads, even if they were connected. (This happens a lot in suburban subdivisions, where developers seem to run out of names by the time they get to the n-th cul-de-sac.)

I also did some cleaning up of the data. This is messy business! I couldn’t catch every misspelling, but I did combine ordinal street names like “2nd” and “Second” for the first 20 numbers. I also ignored street names like “private driveway” (there were a lot of those) or “usfs” which are the names given to U.S. Forest Service trails, and so on.

Correction: The official flower for the state of Hawaii is the Hawaiian hibiscus; the official flower of the island of Hawaii is the lehua.