If there is a single, overriding feature of urbanism that gives each city its distinction (or the lack thereof) it is the street. Depending upon time, circumstance, and culture, the street performs manifold functions of mover of people and goods, divider of public and private space, venue for public spectacle, meeting place, and site of innumerable economic transactions, among a host of other functions. From quiet lanes and mews, to broad boulevards the street defines the character of district and neighborhood, from passive to active, from intimate to monumental, from personal to public.
Streets have been given numbers, alphabetized after trees and animals, names for historical figures, saints, and sinners. But their renown is earned by the events and activities that take place in them and along them. Thus 42nd Street or 5th Avenue are no longer prosaic byways in a sequence of numbered byways; the Champs Elysee continues to evoke the parade of victorious Allied tanks and hosts the terminus of the Tour de France, and Shanghai’s Nanjing Road is a neon corridor extolling China’s rapture with market economics.
Virtually every city has a street or avenue whose mention brings forth its history, or part of his character. Below are a score of renowned streets to be matched with the cities they help to define.
©2004, ©2015, James A. Clapp (UrbisMedia Ltd. Pub. 1.1.2004)