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On the sTREEt names of Philadelphia

Image: Allee of mostly ginkgos

William Penn envisioned Philadelphia as a "greene countrie towne." His urban design included four squares, now parks, one in each of the city's quadrants. In the center of the city one also finds other green spaces: street trees, window boxes, and sidewalk planters.

The green countrie towne concept is also found in the naming of streets. While walking to and from Rittenhouse Square (a future post) I noticed that several streets are named for trees. Cypress. Pine. Lombard (as in the Lombardy poplar). Locust. Walnut. Chestnut.

Roberta Alotta has written a book titled Mermaids, Monasteries, Cherokees and Custer: The Stories Behind Philadelphia Street Names about the history of Philly's street names. This book is now on my wishlist. Lawrence Kentenbaum at has written a brief description and bibliograpy of street naming in U.S. cities. Kentenbaum notes that the "idealization" of nature in the late 1800s is reflected in street names and street design.

I wonder when Mariposa (Spanish for butterfly) Street in Berkeley was named?  Did a lot of butterflies once live here?


Anonymous said…
Cities with declining populations like Philadelphia have the opportunity to host community gardens ranging from postage stamp to city block size. Maintained by neighbors or high school students or gardening clubs, they provide the connection to growing things that many people would otherwise miss, while they soften the appearance of those communities.
You didn't mention our murals, which were started as part of an anti-grafitti program by Jane Golden from San Diego. These are often backdrops to our gardens, schoolyards and parks to extend the green spaces cost-effectively, and can thematically link the urban setting to Nature.
Anonymous said…
Thanks for the comment. I should have included community gardens in my list of Philadelphia's "greene" spaces.

I really like the mural at Squirrel Hill Falls. It's not a food garden but a community space nonetheless (

I had also hoped to visit the West Philadelphia Mill Creek Project and Mill Creek Farm but I got lost on a very hot and humid day. It's on the itinerary for my next trip to Philadelphia
Anonymous said…
Hooray for the Front Yard Farmers of Berkeley!

If you're ever in Oakland on Lincoln, check out our Vivified Victimless Victory Garden at 4166 - by mid summer the runner beans are as high as you can reach, the tomatoes are just blushing, and we're eating favas.

Feel free to pick something, just dont tear the plants or trample them.