Funky Utah street names can hit you where you live

Picabo Street? Mormon, Olympic themes, or sheer vanity.

The Salt Lake Tribune/March 29, 2009

You've heard of Harvard-Yale, the dapper east Salt Lake City neighborhood with Ivy League street names. But what about King Benjamin's Court in South Jordan, where the roads herald Book of Mormon heroes? How about Olympic Point, a West Jordan subdivision built just before the 2002 Winter Olympics that boasts a Slalom Way, Curling Court, even Picabo Street?

There are more than 10,000 streets in the Salt Lake Valley, with more to come as the west side fills up. Finding the right moniker is "a little bit of a science and a little bit of an art," notes Tom Burdett, West Jordan's community-development director.

"The science part is keeping with the grid system and keeping [an address] unique for emergency services, but the rest of it can be somewhat artistic," Burdett says. "It can contribute to a long-term identity."

The Salt Lake Valley has its share of quirky street names. Many are picked by developers who plot new streets when shaping subdivisions.

Romantics can stroll down Lovers Lane in Riverton. Feeling nostalgic? Take a trip down Holladay's Memory Lane. Taylorsville offers its very own Sesame Street and Rocky Road.

Elizabeth Miller chose her lot in Olympic Point in 2001 because she liked the ring of "Picabo Street." Plus, it was easier to pronounce than nearby Lillehammer Circle and far more interesting than Downhill Road.

"I thought it was really cute," says Miller, who has three children, age 2 to 8. "It's easy for my kids to remember ... to grasp onto 'peek-a-boo.' "

But the street name, which pays tribute to gold medal skier Picabo Street, does have at least one naysayer: Miller's husband, Martin. He finds the spelling hard for visitors to grasp so he tells friends and service providers that his family lives on "Pick-ah-boe."

Finding a name that's easy to pronounce and spell is one of the challenges faced by those who christen streets.

"It's important to remember that people - in 20 years - will live there, and they don't want weird spellings," says Chris Gamvroulas, president of Ivory Development, which has named more than a thousand streets, including Picabo. "They don't care what your kid's name is."

Memorializing family members appears to be a common approach in the Salt Lake Valley. Thereare the developments with four roads named for Lorreen or three for Lester. That's, well, "tacky," Gamvroulas says.

Another practice that has its backers and detractors: picking names unique to Mormonism. In addition to Mosiah and Ammon ways in King Benjamin's Court, Olympus Cove features Zarahemla, Abinadi, Hagoth and Helaman streets.

House hunters Michelle and David Romero, checking out a home for sale on South Jordan's Mosiah Way, are LDS but still think the Book of Mormon street names are "goofy" and "corny."

"Only this neighborhood could get away with it," Michelle Romero says, gesturing to the tidy street of upscale homes.

But Salt Lake Valley streets pay tribute to other books as well - and even alcoholic beverages. Witness Champagne Avenue, Cabernet Drive and Merlot Way. Taylorsville and West Jordan each has a subdivision that pays homage to J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy. Frodo, Bilbo, Gandalf and Treebeard all have their own streets.

Other authors get their share of streets, too. Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Miguel de Cervantes, to name a few.

Of course, it's last names only on these literati lanes. The most important naming rule of all: Keep it short enough to fit on the sign.

Other quirky area street names

Bagpiper Circle, 4070 West/ 10050 South

Bishop Place, 430 North/ 300 West

Boy Scout Drive, 1180 West/ 1200 North

Brewski Bay, 6750 South/ 1300 West

Celestial Court, 2065 West/ 10600 South

Darwin Street, 5 West/ 550 North

Ditsie Drive, 7660 West/ 3900 South

Golden Gate Circle, 6635 South/ 5575 West

Glass Slipper Road, 2105 East/ 9510 South

Lehi Drive, 3325 South/ 2835 West

Love Bug Circle, 6345 South/ 2525 West

Magic Wand Street, 13730 South/ 1400 East

Milky Way, 2435 East/ 4000 South

Oxcart Lane, 100 East/ 14800 South

Tithing Hill Drive, 12590 South/ 1122 West

Whimpy Way, 7205 South/ 700 West

Xanadu Circle, 770 West/ 4800 South

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