Road vs. Avenue vs. Boulevard – What’s the difference?

1 min read

Often street names are quite creative and can tell you a story of their original inhabitants. You'll find streets named after everything from birds to trees, people’s loved ones and the names of geographical landmarks.

What is more consistent is the categories of streets. This is not something most people give much thought to, but there is actually some reasoning behind street classification, and it matters a great deal to city planners and map makers.

Let’s take a look at the difference between roads, streets, lanes, avenues, boulevards and some bonuses.


In theory, a road is something that connects two distant points. Simple enough. They are supposed to be the link between towns and cities.  This rule isn’t too strictly followed — cities are often connected by interstates and contain roads within them.


However, sticking with the guidelines, streets are supposed to be roads within cities and towns, with buildings on each side. They are supported with sidewalks and often are main congregating areas for people — such as Main Street or the High Street.


Avenues are distinct from streets because of the direction they run. Technically speaking, they are supposed to be perpendicular to the streets. They can be meeting spots, like streets, or be more residential areas with shrubbery and landscaping.


Boulevards are wide streets, often with a median. Famous examples are Sunset and Hollywood Boulevard in LA. These are major areas with lots of space and traffic and are lined with bars, restaurants, stores and famous landmarks.

The rest of the road

Lanes are much more low key. They are narrow roads or streets, usually with no median or shoulder. A way is similar to a lane.

A drive is a private road, often with limited access and possibly with no outlet.

Highways, freeways and expressways are all large roads that are designed for long-distance, high-speed traffic. The differences between them aren’t exactly clear, but certain regions have preferences.

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