Where the Streets Have… Names
By Richard Friend | February 19, 2016
I’ve often wondered where some of Laurel’s street names came from. Many of its earliest thoroughfares are simply numbered and lettered; but most are named after people—mayors and prominent families, more often than not.
In the mid-to-late 20th century, residential developers took it upon themselves to name new streets after their own families, friends and associates. I learned this while researching Steward Manor apartments, where I grew up—and discovered that Morris Drive was named after the developer himself, Morris Pollin. Other streets in the development were named after his children, like Sharon Court. One of his kids who didn’t get a street named after him, ironically, was Abe Pollin—who, as a young man, helped carry heavy bathtubs and toilets into the new apartment units. Abe went on to make a much bigger name for himself, however, as the eventual owner of the Washington Bullets/Wizards and the Washington Capitals, and the man who built the Capital Centre and what is now Capital One Arena. (Coincidentally, the 600 block of F Street, NW in front of Capital One Arena is named Abe Pollin Way in his honor.) But I digress.
Admittedly, I haven’t dug into the origins of Laurel’s street names in earnest yet. But I received a wonderful surprise in the mail this week from a Lost Laurel follower, Bill Murphy. Bill sent me a couple of vintage Laurel pieces he’d come across, including a Laurel Leaderfrom 1975 and an original copy of the 1970 Laurel Centennial booklet. Tucked inside the Centennial booklet was an even more unique piece of history—a stapled, three-page document that had been typed by his late mother, Mrs. Bernadette I. Murphy, who worked as a newspaper reporter while the family lived on Turney Avenue between 1965 and 1975.
It’s an alphabetical list of Laurel’s street names… and their origins.