What makes a road a road?

There are many different ways we can travel from one point to another today. Typically, we drive down a street, a road, an avenue and perhaps even a freeway to get there. Whatever the means, it is not immediately obvious that the names provided for these routes are given for a particular reason. For example, a road connects two distant points. A street is usually surrounded by buildings and an avenue usually has buildings and plants or trees lining it. After this, they seem to become a bit odder: a place is a road or street with no throughway (a dead end), a court will end in a circle or loop and a crescent is in the shape of a crescent.

Despite this range, not all routes follow this convention and neither does it help our ability to come up with new names. In Australia, it is entirely common to name streets after British monarchs. King George III reigned at the time Sydney was founded and has 521 George Streets named after him while King William IV has 452 William Streets. High Street was named for the principal shopping street and Australia has 393 of those. In contrast, we do come up with weird names from time to time. For instance, ‘Lois Lane’ or Superman’s love interest is found in Yarraville and Dandenong, Victoria. ‘Marriage Road’ is off the Nepean Highway in Brighton East but you always have the choice of taking ‘Separation Street’ at Fairfield. Finally ‘Y Street’ is found in Ashburton and there no prizes for guessing why.