General Question

luminous00's avatar

What's the difference between Street, Avenue, Boulevard, Way, Lane, Port, Circle, Highway, Expressway, Freeway, Road, Thruway, Beltway, Court, Frontage, Drive, Bay, Square, Route, Culdesac and Interstate?

Asked by luminous00 (350points) July 1st, 2008

It took a while to come up with this list, but I’ve always been curious as to the differences. There has to be a standard that’s followed that determines these.

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39 Answers

AstroChuck's avatar

Hey. You forgot Trail and Parkway.

ccatron's avatar

wikipedia has some good information about this topic, and the meanings seem to differ depending on the region in which you live.

seVen's avatar

I don’t know but your local DOT department or Post Office should.

babygalll's avatar

All spelled differently?

I agree with ccatron Wikipedia is the place to check out the difference. You might have to check each one individually.

beast's avatar

All I know is that a culdesac is an end circle off a street.

surlygirl's avatar

here streets always run north-south. avenues run east-west.

elchoopanebre's avatar

Some of these are obvious…

A freeway and an interstate are, I believe the same thing.

As Beast said, a Culdesac is the circular end of a street.

As to the difference between a lane, street, road, Aveune, Boulevard, Way, etc, etc ,etc it sounds rather arbitrary.

lefteh's avatar

@surlygirl: Same in Columbus. The downtown area, anyway. With a few exceptions.

breedmitch's avatar

@lefteh and Surfygirl: But here in NYC and Brooklyn streets run east -west and avenues run north-south.

jballou's avatar

I think I heard that at one point the difference had to do with the size of the street in question, how many lanes it had, how long it was, and what kind of traffic was allowed on it. I think in modern city planning, most of the strict definitions have been violated too often for it to mean much anymore.

Although Interstate is an easy one- that is a highway that goes through 2 or more states.

luminous00's avatar

Funny thing, and the reason I ask, is because a local busy road is labeled as a Boulevard, but yet meets none of the following conditions whatsoever:

“In this case, as a type of road, a boulevard (often abbreviated Blvd) is usually a wide, multi-lane arterial thoroughfare, divided with a median down the center, and “roads” along each side designed as slow travel and parking lanes and for bicycle and pedestrian usage, often with an above-average quality of landscaping and scenery. The division into peripheral roads for local use and a central main thoroughfare for regional traffic is a principal feature of the boulevard. Larger and busier boulevards usually feature a median.”

Macdade Blvd has no median, no “roads” along each side designed for slow travel and/or parking lanes, and no landscaping at ALL following it. I guess that’s why it jump started this question, haha.

Seesul's avatar

Hey Chuckie, you forgot “Via”, you must have some of those in Sacto, as well as “Calle” and “Avenida”. my fav being Avenida de las Pulgas” in San Mateo County (Pulgas meaning fleas)

lefteh's avatar

We have a couple Strands in Columbus.
Beat THAT, San Mateo!

robmandu's avatar

And to go along with, why is it exactly that we drive on parkways and park on driveways?

Les's avatar

@jballou, et al: Not all interstates go through two or more states. Hawaii has 3 interstates. They get federal funding.

lefteh's avatar

@robmandu: The same reason that a caretaker and a caregiver are synonymous, that kidnapping is a felony and catnapping is leisurely, and that we pay people to sit on our babies.

And to add to what Les said, think about outerbelt and spur interstates. For example, Columbus has two interstates that don’t even leave the county: I-270, the outerbelt, and I-670, which is a connected between two other interstates.

jballou's avatar

@Les that’s a perfect example of modern planning violating the original rules that created the distinctions between the terms.

Les's avatar

@jballou: See the section where it talks about “Terminology”. “They are funded federally with money shared among the states.” Thus, interstate.

jballou's avatar

Oh snap! Learn something new everyday. Thanks Les

Seesul's avatar

@lefteh, we have at least one strand in California, It’s called The Silver Strand It is the isthmus that connects Coronado with San Diego proper. At one time, the Blvd was the only way to get to Coronado by land. This was before the bridge was built. They did have a great car ferry when I was growing up there.

The Interstates in Hawaii are not only between states, but they are also in the same county (Honolulu) and island (Oahu) .

lefteh's avatar

Damn! I was hoping the Strand was unique to Columbus.

And I-670 in Columbus is all within the same zip code. It’s not even ten miles long.
I wonder why it qualifies as an interstate and receives federal funding. Seems like it should be a city, county, or state road.

gailcalled's avatar

@Seesul; How do you pronounce isthmus?

I have a long driveway that I own, although another family has a right-of-way for access to their barn and house. Due to 911 issues, I had to name it something other than Gail’s driveway.

So now I live on Chicory Lane…wild chicory w. its blue daisies in bloom on the shoulders right now. Lane to me means narrow, rutty, pot holes, tree branches scraping the top of cars, twin fawns and their mother standing in middle of road, ditto cottontails, possums, and heron wading in adjoining pond.

lefteh's avatar

Interesting. Lanes here are generally winding suburban roads.
Also, one of the biggest roads here is called Lane Avenue. How’s that for confusing?

gailcalled's avatar

Funny, actually.

Here our major artery – east—->west between the hills is rte 203, and has one lane each way. A traffic jam is considered 5 cars and a logging flatbed.

lefteh's avatar

Good morning in Downtown Columbus. Standstill traffic with a cop in the middle of it. I can almost smell the coffee.

Seesul's avatar

I grew up on a Lane and it was in although in a seaside village, our lane was in baby boomer suburbia, tract home, though our house was custom designed (no one other than my mother thought of asking). It was far from fawns, bunnies, or possums, but since it was next to a field, we did have the occasional skunk or rattlesnake wander in uninvited.

…and my nephew just moved from Lois Lane. Better yet was the guy I knew who lived on Easy Street. He had a lead foot and the cops thought he was being sarcastic when they stopped him and asked him for his address.

and gail. I pronounce it is mus (as in this) but it looks like it should be pronounced like Ronnie Howard said his sss’s in The Music Man, doesn’t it?

One of the first words we learned in elementary school, since there was one in the area. A lot of people refer to Coronado as Coronado Island, but it’s really not.

Just like people call the Sierra Nevada Mountains the Sierras, wrong as well.

And the Oakland Bay Bridge is/are actually the Oakland Bay Bridges. There are two, with Treasure Island in between.

Scrumpulator's avatar

an interstate and a highway are not the same thing. Interstates go from state to state, duh, and highway is a local phenomenon.

robmandu's avatar

@scrump… there are indeed intra-state “interstate” highways. Duh.

lefteh's avatar

Here is an even more convincing Wikipedia link. I thought we covered this already? Interstate means it is funded by all of the states through the federal system, not that it goes from state to state. That list doesn’t even include spur highways that share names throughout the country, such as robmandu’s link, I-670, I-540, etc. Furthermore, there are outerbelt interstates for large cities that are usually three digits.

sccrowell's avatar

A Highway has roads that cross through it (such as the 101) Freeways do not, Freeways only have On ramps and off ramps.

The following I may have backwards…

Even number freeways/highways travel East and West
Odd number freeway/highways travel North and South

lefteh's avatar

Those are correct, sccrowell. For the most part. There are a few exceptions here and there.

sccrowell's avatar

@lefteh, What are the exceptions?

lefteh's avatar

I dunno, they’re all over the place.
A couple that come to mind is State Route 161 here in Columbus that runs east/west and State Route 4 that runs north/south.

sccrowell's avatar

Alright, this is what I’m sure of.
Odd numbers mark north and south highways with numbers ranging from 5 to 99. The lower number situated on the west and it increases toward the east. I-5 is located in the west and the highest is I-95 and is located in the east coast. Major Interstate highways, the ones that go through morn than one region end with a 5. The other numbers are either regional or intrastate.

Even numbers mark east and west with numbers ranging from 4 to 98 the numbers increase from south to north. I-4 is in Florida while I-94 is in or close to Canada. It gets a lot more detailed such as what 2nd and 3rd numbers means, but that’s the jest of it.

lefteh's avatar

Everything there makes sense to me except one statement: “Major Interstate highways, the ones that go through morn than one region end with a 5. The other numbers are either regional or intrastate.”

I can think of a handful of exceptions to this rule. I-29, I-71, I-77..

robmandu's avatar

Yah… the odds run roughly north-south. And the evens run east-west. I don’t think that the “ending in 5 part” really makes sense (sorry sccrowell). I-90 is the longest at 3,100 miles… and doesn’t end in 5.

lefteh's avatar

I think she meant the longest most important north-south interstates ended in 5, because they are odd.

gailcalled's avatar

And no roads ( I or—) are straight. They curve, twist, and if you are navigating by the sun or stars, confuse the driver completely.

rovdog's avatar

@luminous00 There may be multiple MacDade Blvds but I’m thinking you may live in the Philadelphia area. No MacDade Blvd is not a great Boulevard- but the Roosevelt Boulevard in Northeast Philadelphia fits exactly your description, with side lanes for local traffic (not really for bicycles and all but hazardous to pedestrians).

Seems that’s more of the original french concept of the Boulevard anyway-

From that same wikipedia article:

“In many places in the United States and Canada, municipalities and developers have adapted the term to refer to arterial roads, not necessarily boulevards in the traditional sense. In California, many so-called “boulevards” extend into the mountains as narrow, winding road segments only two lanes in width. However, boulevards can be any divided highway with at-grade intersections to local streets. ”

and later down:

“Nineteenth century parkways, such as Brooklyn’s Ocean Parkway, were often built in the form of boulevards and are informally referred to as such. In some cities, however, the term “boulevard” does not specify a larger, wider, or more important road. “Boulevard” may simply be used as one of many words describing roads in communities containing multiple iterations of the same street name (such as in the Ranchlands district of Calgary, where Ranchlands Boulevard exists side-by-side with Ranchlands Road, Ranchlands Court, Ranchlands Mews, etc.) Nowaday boulevard can be fund most anywhere and their original structured meaning has lost all meaning.”

So yeah… it can be anything, I guess.

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