Ever wondered why one road is a “street,” another is a “way” and yet another is a “boulevard?” It turns out that there’s actually some definite meaning behind all of those qualifiers. This video from Vox delves into the naming conventions of roads, alleys, ways, circles, courts, squares, terraces and more to help make sense of all the different names we use to describe our pathways around town.
The basic qualifiers include the name of the road and the way it’s used (for walking or driving). A road is pretty straightforward, a general classification that allows for travel and often named for the destination or the geographic feature on either side. Streets connect buildings together, usually in a city and are generally east to west, while avenues run north to south and are wider than streets.
A boulevard is a broad formally laid out paved public way that has trees or other greenery on both sides and generally has a median in the middle. In Los Angeles, it’s Sunset Boulevard and the rest of the city has its fair share of them. In other cities, they can be any wide urban highway that connects local streets.
Lane is a narrow street that doesn’t have a median and is often used as a slang term for alley. Drive is a road that follows the contour of a hill or other landscape and may curve or wander. Court is a street with no throughway that ends in a circle or cul-de-sac. Square or terrace are open public spaces surrounded by buildings or streets.