Naming Streets is a Tricky and Full Contact Sport


An article in today’s New York Times reminds us how problematic it is to put human beings’ names on street signs. Dr. Theodore L. Kazimiroff, a multi-talented gentleman from the Bronx, a borough of New York City, has been honored by the City for some 30 years. His name was memorialized on about three blocks of Southern Boulevard, running next to or through the New York Botanical Garden and Fordham University. While the City recognized the name, at least in principle, and had posted street signs along those few blocks, very few other institutions appeared to have done so, including the public. The Botanical Garden had respected the honorary name of the few blocks attached to its own territory and publicly listed its address as 200th Street and Kazimiroff Boulevard. Unfortunately, neither the US Postal Service, FedEx and UPS, Mapquest, Google Maps, most GPS devices, and a large proportion of the public which was trying to visit Fordham or the Botanical Garden were able to find Dr. Theodore L. Kazimiroff Boulevard.

Recently, the City announced it would strip the two blocks of the designation, but relented after an uproar from the Bronx City Council and his widow Emelia Kazimiroff, 95.

Both the Botanical Garden and Fordham University supported the change, having tired of visitors ringing for directions after having been unable to locate Dr. Kazimiroff’s namesake boulevard.

It was agreed the three blocks would continue to bear his name “as an honorary designation”. Henceforth, fifteen street signs along the three blocks of Southern Boulevard will also have his name, albeit in second place. The cost of the signs is $1,312.50, about the cost of a full-fare air ticket to Europe.

It is then any question why Saudi Arabia’s new street addressing system, installed by Saudi Post, bears only numbers? For communication and location identification, alpha-numeric systems and the like are much easier to use and to communicate. However, the experience of the richness of the history of a place is reduced. London and Paris and Brussels and so many other places would be diminished without their hodge-podge of references to the past there for all to see on street signs and placards.

The article is at: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/12/nyregion/12name.html?_r=1

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