The history of the street names in Phoenix, Arizona
The stories behind the street names
More historic Phoenix images being posted daily here
Washington Street (0) - named after the first president of the United States, George Washington.
Adams Street (100 North) - named after our second president, John Adams.
Melinda's Alley - You won't find this on any maps, but it was lined with houses and businesses during the early years of Phoenix. A trace of it remains, as of this writing, as simply a back alley at Central Avenue between Monroe and Adams. In 1902, Charles Poston lived, and died, on Melinda's alley.
Monroe Street (200 North) - named after our fifth president, James Monroe.
Van Buren Street (300 North) - Major street. Named after our eighth president Martin Van Buren. It was also known as Tempe Road. As it curves southward near The Phoenix Municipal Stadium, it becomes Mill Avenue.
Grand Avenue - In 1887 developers from Fresno, California were inspired to create a quick, easy route cutting diagonally from downtown Phoenix to lure settlers to the west side. This avenue runs at a 45 degree angle north by northwest beginning at Van Buren and 7th Avenue, which was known as Yavapai Street at that time. Original Grand Avenue Addition document from 1887 is here. Some tricks on navigating the Grand Avenue overpasses is here. And, no, it's not The Grand Avenue, it's Grand Avenue, like Grand Canyon, or Grand Canal. They liked the word Grand in those days!
Polk Street (400 North) - named after our eleventh president, James Polk.
Taylor Street (500 North) - named after our 12th president, Zachary Taylor.
Fillmore Street (600 North) - named after our 13th president, Millard Fillmore.
Pierce Street (700 North) - named after our 14th president, Franklin Pierce.
McKinley Street (800 North) - named after our 25th president, William McKinley.
Garfield Street (900 North) - named after our 20th president, James A. Garfield.
Roosevelt Street (1000 North) - Half-mile street. Named after our 26th president, Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt.
Diamond Street - Named after the Diamond Heights addition platted in 1909 by E.J. and Emma R. Bennitt. Original Diamond Heights document is here
Latham Street - Named after H.I. Latham who owned the H.I. Latham Company, a real estate and investments firm and was a prominent booster of Phoenix. He owned 40 acres with his wife Henrietta at the northwest corner of Central and McDowell at the turn of the century.
Moreland Street - This street was originally called Westmoreland, but the West had to be removed to avoid confusion. Otherwise, it would have been East Westmoreland Street, or West Westmoreland Street. Can you blame them? See the original Westmoreland Street here.
McDowell Road (1600 North) - Major Street. Named after Civil War General Irvin McDowell (1818-1885). A graduate of West Point, McDowell was in command of Union troops when they were routed at the Battle of Bull Run. His career survived and he was twice appointed to command of the department of the Pacific. He reportedly never visited Arizona, and is interred in the National Cemetery on the Presidio Military Reservation, San Francisco. On the west side of Phoenix, over by the Fair Grounds, it was called Christy Road until the 1930s, after the ranch of William Christy.
Palmcroft - The Palmcroft subdivision was platted in 1927 by Dwight B. Heard and William G. Hartranft on land purchased from J. W. and Sallie G. Dorris. It's still an amazing neighborhood to walk around in today.
Hubbell Street -
Monte Vista Road - This is Spanish for "Mountain View" or "View of the Mountain". Monte Vista was a subdivision platted on December 4th, 1908 by Dwight B. Heard, president of the Suburban Realty Company.
Harvard Street - An Ivy League School, like Yale and Princeton whose names were used in the 1924 subdivision Greenfield Acres created by T.H. and Elsie Greenfield at 16th Street just south of Thomas. Princeton Street appears to be gone now.
Sheridan Street -
Yale Street - See Harvard Street above
Encanto Boulevard - Half-mile street."Enchantment" in Spanish.
Wilshire Drive - named after Henry Gaylord Wilshire (1861 - 1927), who was known by his contemporaries by his middle name, Gaylord, and was a land developer for whom Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles was also named.
Virginia Avenue (2600 North) -
Windsor Avenue -
Edgemont Avenue -
Greenfield Road - From the Greenfield Gardens subdivision platted by T.H., Elsie, Max, and Bonnie Greenfield in 1928. This street runs at an angle parallel to Grand Canal. Look for it as you pass the Creighton Christian Church at 22nd Street, just south of Thomas.
Thomas Road (2900 North) - Major street. Named after William E. Thomas, Arizona territorial deputy county recorder at the turn of the century. Thomas owned an 85-acre ranch one and a half miles north of the city limits (the city limit was Van Buren at the time). Page showing William E. Thomas in the Phoenix 1892 City Directory. Original document of the biography of William E. Thomas from the 1901 Portrait and Biographical Record of Arizona . The complete transcript of the book is here. Original document of the biography of William E. Thomas from the 1896 Historical and Biographical Record of the Territory of Arizona. Article from the 1908 Arizona Republican Newspaper is here.
Thomas Road was also known as West Oleander Avenue.
Country Club Drive - Goes around the Phoenix Country Club, a private golf course, which remains outside of the city limits to this day.
Earll Drive - Named after E.A Earll who developed Earll Place which was platted in 1929. Earll Place plat map is here
Campus Drive - Goes around Phoenix College.
Osborn Road (3400 North) - Half-mile street. This road ran by the south edge of the Osborn family farm, near Central, and had been homesteaded by John Preston Osborn, originally from Tennessee, and his wife Paulina Elizabeth (Swetnan), of Kentucky, in the late 1870's. The street became known as Osborn Road around the time of John's death in 1900 at the age of 84. John's son Neri became the City of Phoenix County Recorder. Neri F. Osborn was born on April 7th, 1856 and died on October 6th, 1943. Neri Osborn's wife was named Marilla and they lived at 77 W. Encanto, Phoenix. In the 1892 Phoenix City Directory, Neri was living on Franklin near Porter Avenue, neither of which exists today.
Neri's son, and John's grandson, was Sidney Osborn, the 7th governor of Arizona.
Whitton Avenue - Named after F. E. Whitton, who platted the Whitton Tract in 1910. Original Whitton Tract document is here.
Indianola - Named by T.M. Earnhart, who platted Indianola Place at 2nd Street in 1909.
Indian School Road (4100 North) - Major street. This road was named for the Phoenix Indian School, which opened on September 30, 1891, with an enrollment of thirty-four Pima boys. The school's first permanent structure, the "girls' building," was built in 1892. Modeled after the Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Pennsylvania, the Phoenix Indian School offered Indian youth the opportunity to learn industrial skills with the aim of integrating them into white society as well-paid workers. In 1935 the Phoenix Indian School was operating as both a vocational training school and a regular junior and senior high school. Enrollment at the school reached its peak in 1961, but diminishing support for the school reflected a decline in support for off-reservation schools nationally. In 1990 the Phoenix Indian School was closed and developed as commercial real estate by the Collier Company of Florida and as a city of Phoenix park.
Turney Avenue - Named after Omar Asa Turney, Phoenix city engineer at the turn of the century. In the 1892 Directory Phoenix City Directory, he listed as a bookkeeper and his residence was on Washington between Center and Montezuma (1st Street). Omar Turney was living at 643 N. 4th Avenue when he died on December 21st, 1929. As of this writing, it looks like his house is still there.
Original document showing Turney Avenue from 1893. Transcript of document:
This plat of lots: - Is hereby published as the complete plan and survey thereof and the street upon the recording thereof in the
County Recorder's office of the Country of Maricopa, Territory of Arizona, is dedicated to the public for their use forever. The premises hereby subdivided consists of the North half (1/2) of the South-west quarter (1/4) of Section number Twenty (20), township number Two (2) North of Range number three (3), Gila and Salt River Base and Meridian, County of Maricopa, Territory of Arizona.
Witness my hand this seventh day of November, 1893, R.H. Woolf.
Recorders Office, Phoenix, Maricopa Co., A.T.
Filed and recorded request of J.N. Evans, Nov. 7th, 1893, at 2:30 P.M.
Book 2 of Maps Page, Neri Osborn, County Recorder (son of John P. Osborn), by Wm. E. Thomas, Deputy.
Territory of Arizona, County of Maricopa
Before me, O.A. Turney, a Notary Public, in and for said county of Maricopa, on this day personally appeared R. H. Woolf known to me to be the person whose name is subscribed to the foregoing instrument and acknowledge to me that he executed the same for the purpose and consideration therein expressed.
Given under my hand and seal of office this 7th day of November, 1893
O.A. Turney, Notary Public
Campbell Avenue - Half-mile street.
Minnezona Avenue - Named by contractor Porter (P. W.) Womack, for a favorite Aunt MINNiE and combined it with AriZONA.
Grand Canal - I know, it's not a street, but many times in old maps it's a good reference. I'm putting it here in this list because this is where is crosses Central, although it crosses different streets elsewhere. And yes, it's Grand Canal, as in Grand Canyon, not The Grand Canal. Built in 1878, they must have thought pretty highly of it, to compare it to Grand Canyon!
Pierson Street - named by Eugene M. and Lena Pierson, who platted Pierson Place in 1926 at 7th Avenue, just south of Camelback Road.
Camelback Road (5000 North) - Major street. Named after Camelback Mountain, which is so named because it looks like a camel lying down.
Reade Avenue - named after Dave Reade, who worked as a salesman for John F. Long.
Medlock Drive - Named after Floyd W. Medlock, who platted Medlock Place at Central Avenue in 1926.
Missouri Avenue - Half-mile street.
San Juan Avenue
San Miguel Avenue
Palo Verde Drive - The palo verde tree is Arizona's state tree.
Bethany Home Road (6000 North) - Major street. Led to the Bethany Home, way outside the city, near what is now 15th Avenue. The "home" was a tuberculosis sanitorium operated by a religious organization in the early 1900's. The namesake of the home is an ancient town near Jerusalem.
Maryland Avenue - Half-mile street
Sierra Vista Drive
McLellan Boulevard - Named after George W. McLellan, who platted the Washington Homesites in 1925. The map says it was at Alhambra Road.
Ocotillo Road - A type of cactus that is native to the Sonoran Desert.
Glendale Avenue (7000 North) - Major street. The road to Glendale, Arizona. Glendale Avenue becomes Lincoln Drive when you pass 22nd Street going east, entering the city of Scottsdale. The city of Glendale started as a temperance colony in the 1800s, and in spite of an excellent and active historical society, no one really knows why the city was named Glendale. Maybe it just sounded good. Glendale Avenue, in the city of Glendale itself , was originally Washington Street.
Lincoln Drive - named after John C. Lincoln, a self-made millionaire, who came to Arizona in 1931 when his wife, Helen, was diagnosed with tuberculosis. He founded the Desert Mission in Sunnyslope, which became John C. Lincoln Hospital. He also helped establish a resort in Paradise Valley called The Camelback Inn.
Cactus Wren - The state bird of Arizona.
Northview Avenue - The name comes from Northview Acres, a subdivision that was created in 1946.
Orangewood Avenue - Half-mile street. Named after The Orangewood Nursery Company, which was managed by Burle J. Jones in 1912.
Wagon Wheel Drive
Frier Drive (7700)
Desert Park Lane
Northern Avenue (8000 North) - Major street. Presumably the name indicated the northernmost avenue of the city. As of this writing, it would be less than half-way to the Phoenix city limits north.
El Camino Drive - Spanish for "The Road".
Las Palmaritas Drive
Arizona Canal. Yes, I know it's not a street, but on old maps it makes an excellent reference. I'm putting it in this list here because this is where it crosses Central Avenue, although it crosses other streets elsewhere. Built in 1878, and, like Grand Canal, there is no "the". I guess that's how people talked in those days.
El Caminito Drive - Spanish for "The Little Road".
Butler Drive - Half-mile street.
Alice Avenue - named after the daughter of the founder of the community of Sunnyslope, William R. Norton.
Caron Street - named after Frank and Lenna Caron, who platted the Caron Tract at 4th Street in 1925.
Eva Street - named after Eva Caron, the wife of Ralph D. Caron. This street was named in 1929.
Sunnyslope Lane - Sunnyslope is a community that has some deep historic roots in Phoenix. You can read more about Sunnyslope here.
Hatcher Road - Named after Robert A. Hatcher, who came to Arizona in 1908 from Florida. The name of this road was changed from Wabash to Hatcher in the late 1940s when the road was paved.
Carol Drive - named by Walter and Hilda Tengen who moved to Sunnyslope from Indiana in 1926.
Vogel Avenue - Originally Olmstead Lane (probably named by the Tengens). About 1938-39, John and Susie Vogel purchased the plot on Olmstead Lane and built three small houses, one for themselves and two others to sell or rent. It was during that time that that Olmstead Lane was renamed Vogel Avenue.
Purdue Avenue - Same as above.
Mountain View - Half-mile street. The mountains that you can view to the west are the White Tanks, and the mountains to the east are The Phoenix Mountains.
Peoria Avenue (10600 North) - Major street. The road to Peoria, Arizona. This road doesn't go all the way through east, it ends at 7th avenue, at North Mountain. The road that is its equivalent east of the Phoenix Mountains, picking up again at 24th Street, is Shea Boulevard - named after James A. Shea. James Shea and Harvey Bell (see Bell Road) organized the Paradise Verde Irrigation District in 1916. The town of Peoria, Arizona, was named after Peoria, Illinois, from whence its first settlers came. You can still see the original names of the streets on the west side of Grand Avenue, Washington Street, Jefferson Street, Madison Street, and Monroe. Yep, they are still there! However, Vine Street became 82nd Avenue, Orange Avenue became 83rd Avenue, Peach Street became 85th Avenue, and Almond Street became 86th Avenue. Market Street, east of Grand Avenue, is still there. Walnut Street became 81st Avenue.
Sahuaro Drive, also spelled Saguaro Drive - The saguaro is the symbol of Arizona, the saguaro cactus blossom is the state flower.
Desert Cove Avenue
Shangri La Road
Cholla Avenue - Half-mile street. Cholla is a type of cactus which is native to the Sonoran Desert.
Cactus Road (12200 North) Major street. Named after the little town of Cactus, which was just northeast of Sunnyslope.
Sweetwater Avenue - Half-mile street.
Captain Dreyfus Avenue - Only east of Cave Creek Road. Do you think it could be from the famous Captain Alfred Dreyfus affair in the late 1800s and early 1900s in France? The French writer Émile Zola supported Captain Alfred Dreyfus who had been falsely accused and imprisoned on Devils Island. The case was re-opened after Emile Zola (see below) went to the aid Captain Dreyfus.
Pershing Avenue - named after John Joseph Pershing "Black Jack" (1860 - 1948), general of the U.S. Army who served in the Apache and Sioux Indian wars, Spanish American war in the Battle of San Juan Hill, the Philippine-American War in the Moro Rebellion, the Russo-Japanese War, the Mexican Revolution in the Pancho Villa Expedition, and World War I.
Emile Zola Avenue - Émile Zola was a French writer during the late 1800s. That explains who Émile Zola is, but it doesn't explain why the street was named after him!
Victor Hugo Avenue - Victor Hugo was a 19th century French poet.
Joan de Arc Avenue - Joan de Arc, who lived in the 15th century, was a martyr and a national heroine of France. Again, that's who she was, but it doesn't explain why the street was named after her!
Rue de Lamour Avenue - "Street of Love" in French. If you live on that street, I hope that it is true for you!
Thunderbird Road (13800 North) - Major street. Thunderbird Road ran by a U. S. Army Air Corps training field during WWII.
Greenway Road (15400 North) - Major street. Named after John Greenway, Arizona pioneer. His statue is in the Hall of Statues for Arizona, although most Arizonans have never heard of him. John Greenway's web page is here. By the way, there is another Greenway Road in south Phoenix. Yes, it's still there, you can find it on Google maps. Look for it just east of Central between Southern and Baseline, south of Vineyard. How Phoenix could have two roads with the same name, I don't know. I wonder if it confuses the Post Office! I suppose that's what zip codes are for.
Bell Road (17000 North) - Major street. Named after Harvey Bell, a local farmer. He and James Shea (see Shea Boulevard) organized the Paradise Verde Irrigation District in 1916.
Lindner Drive (in the Belair Subdivision) - Named after Carl Henry Lindner, Jr. (April 22, 1919 – October 17, 2011), a Cincinnati businessman and one of the world's richest people. According to the 2006 issue of Forbes Magazine's 400 list, Lindner was ranked 133 and was worth an estimated $2.3 billion. He was a client of Charles Keating (see below)
Keating Circle (in the Belair Subdivision) - Named after Charles Keating, who is most known for his role in the savings and loan scandal of the late 1980s.
Continental Drive (Near the Belair Golf Course) - Named after The American Continental Mortgage Company
Union Hills Drive (18600 North) -Major street. Named after the Union Hills. Not as impressive as Camelback Mountain, but hilly.
Beardsley Road (20200 North) - Major street. Named after William H. Beardsley, a farmer in the north valley. He headed up the group that raised 3.3 million dollars in 1925 to build the dam on the Agua Fria river, which was designed by Carl Pleasant.
Deer Valley Road (21800 North) -Major street.
Pinnacle Peak Road (23400 North) - Major street. Named after Pinnacle Peak, a granite summit, which is just east of Pima Road in Scottsdale.
Happy Valley Road (25000 North) - Major street.
Culpepper Drive (in Anthem) - named after Detective Culpepper from the 1963 movie "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World"
Jefferson Street (100 South) - named after Thomas Jefferson, our third president.
Madison Street (200 South) - named after James Madison, our fourth president.
Gold Alley - named after Yugoslavian immigrant Martin Gold. Not any any maps, it was a residential and business section between 5th and 7th Streets, mainly hispanic.
Jackson Street (300 South) - named after Andrew Jackson, our seventh president.
Harrison Street - Half-mile street. Named after our 9th president, William Henry Harrison. This is where the railroad tracks are.
Buchanan Street (500 South) - named after James Buchanan, our 15th president.
Lincoln Street (600 South) - named after Abraham Lincoln, our 16th president.
Grant Street (700 South) - Major street. Named after Ulysses S. Grant, our 18th president.
Sherman Street -
Hadley Street -
Tonto Street - named after the Tonto Apache Indian tribe. Central Park, which is on Tonto between 1st and 2nd Street, originally platted in 1910, is still there.
Buckeye Road (1200 South) - Major street. The road to Buckeye, Arizona.
Yavapai Street - named after the Yavapai Apache Indian tribe.
Yuma Street - named after the Yuma Indian tribe, today known as the Quechan.
Papago Street - named after the Papago Indian tribe.
Pima Street - named after the Pima Indian tribe.
Sonora Street - named after the province of Sonora, Mexico
Cocopah Street - named after the Cocopah (Kwapa) Indian tribe.
Mojave Street - named after the Mojave Indian tribe.
Apache Street - named after the Apache Indian tribe.
Durango Street - named after Durango, Mexico.
Lower Buckeye - Major Street
University Drive (2800 South) - Major street. The road through Arizona State University in Tempe.
Broadway Road (4400 South) - Major street. Named for Noah M. Broadway, sheriff of Maricopa County from 1885 to 1886. His farm was located between 7th and 23rd Avenues on the south side of what is now Broadway Road.
Hildalgo Avenue - Named by Walter R. and Blanche F. Strong, who platted the subdivision Hildago Place in 1927.
Southern Avenue (6000 South) Major street. Presumably the name indicated the southernmost avenue of the city.
Wong Way - named after Phoenix City planner Jimmy Wong. Another example of slipping in a bit of humor by the people who name the streets!
Baseline Road(7600 South) - Major street. This is the Public Land Surveying System (PLSS) line that divides Arizona north and south, created by the Land Ordinance of 1785. The original main survey line of the valley started from a point atop a small butte east of what is now the Phoenix International Raceway. The rest of the valley was measured from a line extending east and west of that point, called "the Salt River and Gila Baseline and Meridian." Fortunately for sign makers, the name adopted for the road following that line was shortened to Baseline Road.
Valencia Drive - A Valencia is a type of orange
Harwell Road -
Beautiful Lane -
Gary Way -
Beverly Road -
Ian Drive -
Desert Lane -
Latona Road -
Gloria Drive -
Nagdali Lane -
Magdalena Lane -
South Mountain Avenue - Half-mile street.
Dobbins Road - Major street. Named after J.C. Dobbins, chairman of the Phoenix city planning commission.
Lindner Avenue - In Dobson Ranch, named after Cincinnati businessman Carl Linder.
Saratoga - In Dobson Ranch
Keating Avenue - In Dobson Ranch, named after businessman Charles Keating, who was convicted in December 1991 of 17 counts of fraud, racketeering, and conspiracy. In July 1993, Keating was given a 12½ year sentence. The judge also ordered Keating to pay restitution of $122 million to the government, but Keating said he was $10 million in debt and had no assets to sell. There is also a Keating Drive in the Bellair neighborhood of Glendale north of Bell Road at 45th Avenue.
Houston Avenue -
Guadalupe Road (9200 south) - Major street.
Grove Parkway -
Elliot Road (10800 south) - Major street.
Warner Road (12400 south) - Major street.
Ray Road (14000 south) - Major street.
Chandler Boulevard (15600 south) - Major street. Named after Dr. Alexander John Chandler, who founded the town of Chandler in 1891.
Pecos Road - Major street.
Germann Road - Major street.
Queen Creek Road - Major street.
Ocotillo Road - Major street. An ocotillo is a desert plant, native to the Sonoran Desert.
Chandler Heights Road - Major street.
Riggs Road - Major street.