What the Stravenue?

On April 23, 2013 · 5 Comments

Followers of the Twelve Mile Circle are aware of my fascination with portmanteaus, the mashing together of two distinct words to form a single new word (see the portmanteau tag for several examples). I stumbled across a new one, or at least a new to me, as I attempted to find variations on Public Streets. I consulted Wikipedia’s Street Type Designations and there I noticed "Stravenue." It was a portmanteau composed of Street and Avenue.

Little information on the Stravenue phenomenon exists. The few websites that explore this topic tend to quote heavily from each other. I’m not going to be able to add much value to the existing body of knowledge although I will provide a summary. I can also add something which nobody else seems to have considered, an interactive map of primary stravenue locations.

Invariably most of the other writers who stumbled across stravenues also did so by accident. The topic does sometimes make it into the mainstream media however, including the Arizona Star. The general blogger reaction to the discovery is: What the {fill in the exclamation or expletive of your choice}?!?. I got that out of the way in the title so let’s move along.

Dover Stravenue Tucson Arizona
SOURCE: screen grab from Google Street View
Dover Stravenue?

Most sources claim that Stravenues are unique to Tucson, Arizona, a city configured generally on a grid of cardinal directions. In many parts of Tucson the streets run east to west and avenues run north to south. Railroad tracks in one part of the city run diagonally, northwest to southeast, and several small communities adhered to that orientation while eschewing cardinal directions. Many of the roads within those developments are called stravenues to signify that they run diagonally between streets and avenues of the more prevalent Tucson grid.

There are a lot of stories about the initial application of stravenue as a street suffix in Tucson. The Pima County Public Library took a bit of a contrarian view:

[the] … Library staff cannot find an exact origin of this term. We telephoned the Tucson Planning Department on March 7, 2008. The Tucson Planning Department said the term starvenue did not originate in Tucson and that stravenues are not unique to Tucson.

I did find a couple of references two stravenues outside of Tucson, albeit both still in Arizona and likely influenced by the Tucson occurrences: Lead Stravenue in Brisbee (map) and a reference to a Babin Stravenue on OpenStreetMap that was not corroborated in Google (listed as part of Zent Road) in San Simon. I sure would like to know where other examples of stravenue exist if they are not unique to Tucson. I couldn’t any other uses than those minor instances.

There are two primary stravenue clusters in Tucson plus a handful of disconnected outliers strewn about the city. I’ll embed both of the clusters below. You can open either of these in another tab and then zoom outward to see the complete file.

View Stravenues in a larger map

The larger cluster nestles between Interstate 10 and E. Benson Highway. Focus on the diagonal streets and drill down to see all of the stravenue names. Not every diagonal is a stravenue though, even within this cluster and that’s the weird contradiction. The suffix does not apply uniformly.

View Larger Map

It can quickly become an odd and confusing situation within the cluster. Imagine living at the crossroads of E. Dover Stravenue and S. Hartford Stravenue, with Canada and Frankfort Stravenues a block away. The U.S. Postal Service recognizes Stravenue as a legitimate suffix with the abbreviation STRA, however, how often would a resident’s mail get misdirected? How often would someone unfamiliar with the stravenue concept — like everyone else on the planet — inadvertently address mail to these locations as avenues instead?

View Stravenues in a larger map

The second cluster follows E. Aviation Parkway on both sides of a large railyard. Between them runs the longest stravenue that I found, the disconnected E. Fairland Stra., which was more than twice as long as the nearest contender. It stretched about 1.3 miles (2 km).

I’m a sucker for a good portmanteau although I’m not convinced that stravenue fills a burning need, nor apparently do people outside of two small corners of Tucson, Arizona.

On April 23, 2013 · 5 Comments

5 Responses to “What the Stravenue?”

  1. Gary says:

    While this is not exactly the same thing as a stravenue, in the area of Florida that I live in two roads have a pormenteau for a streetname. The average person though, by looking at the names, would not know that.

    One of them is a main road in this area, has a route number of 436, and the streetname for most of the route is Semoran Boulevard. It is actually the main road that runs out of Orlando International Airport. Just by looking at the name Semoran it looks like any other ordinary name. But in reality, it is a permenteau. The name Semoran comes from combining the names of the two counties, Seminole and Orange, that it goes through. The Sem- in Seminole and the -oran in Orange combine to make the name.

    There is also a neighborhood street around here that is called Oranole Avenue. About half of it runs right along the county line of Orange and Seminole and gets its name the same way that Semoran does by combining the two county names, in this case the reverse as it gets the Oran- from Orange and the -ole from Seminole.

    I am sure there are many more streets like that around the country combining the nanes of cities, counties, or even states but those come to my mind right away. Also, I am sure quite a few names of towns or cities in the country do the same thing. Like for instance, in this area there is a place that is roughly halfway between Orlando and Tampa that is informally known as Orlampa. I am sure there are many others, and that might even make an interesting article someday if it hasn’t been done already.

  2. Joshua D says:

    Wow, this is so coincidental for me. I just ordered some music products from Southwest Strings (http://www.swstrings.com), located at 1721 S. Cherrybell Strav, Tucson, AZ 85713. I had no clue what the Stravenue a Stravenue was, and now it has been answered. Thank you for such good timing!

  3. Elev 6400 ft says:

    The north-south county line road between Douglas and Elbert Counties Colorado is of course “Delbert” Road.

  4. Elizabeth says:

    My grandparents and mom lived on Julius Stravanue in Tucson. I love uniqueness of that.

  5. Al Haraway says:

    My father, Alva Louis Haraway, was a draftsman for Del Webb in the 1940’s, when they platted Pueblo Gardens in Tucson, AZ. The subdivision was quite large for the time; it lay east of Campbell south of Aviation, and north of 36th St. We believed at that time that my father and the Dell Webb team coined the term “Stravenue”

Comments are closed.

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