Image via Wikimedia by Damzow
Several street names are repeated throughout NYC–sometimes more than twice. Why is this? New York has amassed its size through the annexation of smaller towns, the streets of which were laid out and named in similar ways to those on Manhattan. In some cases, the names were intentionally repeated for clarity’s sake, even if that doesn’t quite make sense today. We decided to round up all these confusing repetitions in the hopes that taking Rockaway Parkway to Rockaway Boulevard to Rockaway Point Boulevard on the way to Rockaway Freeway will be less confusing when all you wanted was a nice day at the beach.
1. Broadway (All Boroughs)
Bowling Green. Image via Library of Congress as seen in the book Broadway by Michelle Young
“Broadway” is one of the only street which appears in all five boroughs, along with Main Street. The most notable “Broadway” originates at a bull in Lower Manhattan before snaking its way 33 miles north to a small village by the name of Sleepy Hollow (yes, the one from the ghost story) in Westchester. But that Broadway is just one of five, and Brooklyn’s 4.5 mile thoroughfare of the same name notably carries the oldest section of rapid transit rail tracks in the city–the elevated BMT Jamaica Line (J-M-Z). This Broadway served as the dividing line between the old City of Brooklyn and the Town of Bushwick before the former annexed the latter in 1854.
Queens boasts two Broadways – the first a notable northwest-southeast thoroughfare from Ravenswood to Elmhurst. Most New Yorkers, though, probably have not heard of the other Broadway, which is a one-block suburban drive in Springfield Gardens near JFK Airport. And then, for symmetry’s sake, there’s a Broadway in Staten Island. It runs north-south along the border of Port Richmond and Randall Manor.
Order the book Broadway by Untapped Cities founder Michelle Young, filled with nearly 200 vintage photographs of the street in Manhattan.