Street names are often quite creative, telling you a story of their original inhabitants. You'll find streets named after everything from birds to gemstones, people’s loved ones, and the names of geographical landmarks.
What is more consistent are the categories they fall into. There is some rhyme and reason behind street classification, and it matters a great deal to city planners and map makers. Learn the difference between a street and an avenue, and it just might help you find your next appointment.
By definition, a road is a track that connects two distant points. Simple enough. Roads 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. If the strip of pavement doesn't fall into one of the other classifications, just call it a road and you'll be OK.
Sticking with the guidelines, streets are supposed to be roads within cities and towns, with buildings lining the way. They are supported with sidewalks and are often main business areas — such as Main Street or the High Street.
Avenues are distinct from streets because of the direction they run. Technically, 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 Boulevards in Los Angeles. Boulevards are major areas with lots of space and traffic, but they can be commercial with bars, restaurants, stores, and famous landmarks, or they can be more parklike with greenery lining the boulevard.
Follow the Rest of the Roads
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 or residential road, often with limited access and possibly with no outlet.
Highways, freeways, and expressways are long, multilane roads designed for long-distance, high-speed traffic. The differences between them aren’t exactly clear, but certain geographical regions have preferences.