The Lost Street Names of Ann Arbor
The phantom subdivision on North Main, the fate of Thirteenth Street, and how Hanover Square became a triangle
(Click here for a complete list of current street names and their former names.)
Every morning residents of Ann Arbor leave their homes on Mann Street and Israel Avenue, drive to work along Chubb Road or Grove Street, and look for a place to park on Bowery or Twelfth (there's no parking on Thirteenth). University students bike to class on Orleans or Denton, while recycling trucks pick up newspapers and wine bottles on Buchanan and Lulu's Court. Don't reach for a map! We're talking about the lost street names of Ann Arbor.
It happens in every town. Through the years old names lose their charm, newer developers and officials are rewarded, and various city services complain about confusing addresses. Small streets are swallowed up by bigger ones, names disappear only to reappear across town, and some "streets" linger on maps for years before finally being revealed to have been no more than gleams in a would-be developer's eye.
Numbered streets have led a confused life here. John Allen started us off right in his 1824 plat, showing north-south streets neatly numbered from First on the west to Fifth on the east, with Main Street an alternate name for Third. But when William S. Maynard platted what is today the Old West Side in the 1840s, he created a dizzying mirror image. Starting from Allen's First Street, Maynard numbered his north-south streets from east to west. Old maps and directories show these were usually called West Second, and so on, but First belonged to east and west alike. According to 0. W. Stephenson's 1927 history Ann Arbor: The First Hundred Years, Maynard later asked that the original Fourth and Fifth streets be redesignated as avenues, and so they remain today.
Among the west side's numbered streets, Seventh stands out for both its length (more than two miles, from Miller to Scio Church and beyond)and the startling jog it takes as it crosses Huron. Both reflect its growth in the years following Maynard's original plat. Originally the stretch from West Liberty to West Huron was named Jewett Street, while the dogleg continuing north to Miller was Mann Street, named for the family of Jonathan Henry Mann, the patriarch of the Old West Side's German community. Jewett and Mann were both absorbed into Seventh after being connected up with the original portion south of Liberty in 1891.
In other towns "streets" and "avenues" run perpendicular to one another. Ann Arbor has never accepted that distinction. For a while Huron Street had a south-side parallel named Huron Avenue. Generations of visitors have had cause to be grateful that its name was changed in the 1870s to honor multifaceted local entrepreneur George D. Hill.
Some streets have lost their numbers over the years. In 1889 Allen's Second Street was renamed Ashley, in honor of the Ohio congressman and Montana Territory governor whose Toledo and Ann Arbor Railway Depot was on that street. Ashley had sent his son to the U-M and liked this town so well he moved here himself, building the railroad to circumvent travel through Detroit (and, ultimately, to link Appalachian coal mines with the iron and copper smelters of Lake Superior).
Mulholland Avenue made its debut in the 1928 city directory as "formerly a part of Sixth." The recent creation of the Bach School playground, according to local historian Grace Shackman, had prevented the north and south parts of Sixth Street from connecting, and evidently made the shared name seem dispensable.
The numbering story doesn't end there, however. Developers north of the U-M Central Campus thought it would be a good idea to continue eastward with numbered streets. From Fifth they counted past six streets (including Division and State) and began with Twelfth!
Perhaps the two-digit numbers just seemed too ambitious for a small nineteenth-century town. In any case, not one survived. Twelfth eventually turned into Fletcher, while Thirteenth (which had previously been named Pitcher) is now known as Glen Avenue. Parts of Fourteenth, meanwhile, have subsequently been known by five different names. It was renamed North Forest, then Grant, and then Washte-naw, after that street--which at the time doubled as US-23--was reconfigured to bypass Central Campus.
North of Huron a two-block stub of Fourteenth survived as Washtenaw Place. It was recently renamed Zina Pitcher Place--honoring the same early U-M medical professor for whom Thirteenth had been named in the first place.
North, South, and Middle Ypsilanti
Washtenaw Avenue didn't exist on Allen's original map. The first hint of it appears on an 1836 (precampus) plat that shows Washington Street bending southeastward at its eastern tip. According to Lela Duff's 1962 collection Ann Arbor Yesterdays, a street that we today would recognize as Washtenaw appears on an 1859 map as "Middle Ypsilanti Road."
In the 1860-1861 directory, a number of people are to be found on Ypsilanti Street. This must have been today's North University, which also connected--by way of Geddes Road--to our eastern neighbor. Later directories refer to both Ypsilanti Road and North Ypsilanti Road.
The middle route to Ypsilanti eventually became Washtenaw Avenue. For many years the growing thoroughfare shared its name with Washtenaw Street, a modest two-block affair north of the river near Pontiac Trail. Washtenaw Street was renamed Wright Street in 1889.
There is also a reference in Charles C. Chapman & Company's 1881 History of Washtenaw County, Michigan, to a Manual Labor School "on the south Ypsilanti road" at "what is known as the Eberbach place." The driveway to Christian Eberbach's still-standing Italianate jewel has become Woodlawn Avenue--off the street we know today as Packard.
Initially Packard was just three blocks long: it began at South Main and ended at Hanover Square. South Ypsilanti Road headed southeast from the square. The square was eventually truncated to ease traffic, leaving only a slight bend to mark its earlier history. (Hanover Square's name survives to designate what is now a grassy triangular park at the intersection of Packard and Division; the folded-metal Book sculpture came to rest there.) South Ypsilanti Road was renamed Grove Street before finally yielding to the logic of continuity. It's now Packard all the way to Ypsilanti--where it becomes Cross Street.
The names of other arteries also advanced outward as the city grew. The section of Main Street north of Depot was known as Plank Road for much of the nineteenth century. Built with split logs and planed lumber, plank roads were promoted by local merchants to bring supplies through the mud of Michigan's undrained southern plateau. South of Madison, Main was known at different times as South Plank and Saline Road. Fees were collected at a tollgate for maintaining the route to Saline.
For Pontiac Trail that process worked in reverse. Originally Pontiac came all the way in to Main Street, but in 1889 the part south of the river was renamed Beakes to honor Samuel Beakes, the Ann Arbor Argus publisher, who became our youngest mayor at age twenty-seven. At Main Beakes converges with Kingsley, named for the city's most tireless nineteenth-century promoter. Kingsley was originally North Street, so named because it was the northernmost street in John Allen and Elisha Rumsey's original plat.
Campus and beyond
Nothing expands like a university. Clark, Hickory, and Oak streets have been swallowed up by the Medical Center. Haven Avenue, Belser Street, and College Street are now walkways at best.
Two large purchases east of the original village were made by the Ann Arbor Land Company in the 1830s. The company gave forty acres to lure the young U-M here from Detroit, counting on its presence to increase the value of the company's remaining holdings. One can deduce the success of that strategy by observing that a list of the company's trustees (Thompson, Maynard, Ingalls, Thayer, and so on) is a virtual directory of campus-area streets. Much has happened to these names over the years, though.
In 1856 South Thayer connected the campus to today's Hill Street. It eventually was absorbed by Oakland Street (now Oakland Avenue) and lost its first block when the Law Quad was built in the late 1920s.
Today's Tappan started out as Denton (named after a medical professor and legislator), was then called South Ingalls, and was finally given its current name, the newer part below Hill having already been so designated to honor the dynamic university president who fell afoul of his regents.
In 1892 Thayer, Ingalls, and East University all made surprise appearances south of Packard, ending around a square known as Hamilton Park (later Ferry Park, now carved into house lots). Those segments today are known as White Street, Sheehan Avenue, and Golden Avenue. The park's north boundary, North Park Place, has since become part of Granger Avenue. Rose Avenue, the south boundary, has kept its name, but Oakwood Place, later cut across the park, was changed in 1956 to Sycamore Place by someone obviously hoping to discourage squirrels.
Thayer survived north of campus, but even there it lost a block when the Carnegie Library (the Ann Arbor District Library's predecessor) was appended to the back of Ann Arbor High School in the early twentieth century. (After what is now Pioneer High was built in the 1950s, the U-M bought the old school and renamed it the Frieze Building.) Similarly, when the Rackham Building was constructed in the 1930s, it cut off a block of Ingalls. The isolated block of Thayer between Washington and North University survives, but the southward extension of Ingalls was transformed in the 1980s into a handsome pedestrian mall of flowers and fountains enjoyed by concertgoers and by university staff eating lunch.
Church Street south of Hill was known as Wood in 1888. The north block had been the site of Benjamin Church's "mill stick" shop. North University Court off Observatory was once part of Volland Street, which angled over to Washtenaw. For a while Observatory south of Volland was called Forest Hill Avenue, and the first blocks of Geddes leading up to it were Cemetery Street.
Chauncey Millen, dry goods merchant and tax collector, built a "spectacular" home, later replaced by an equally impressive fraternity/sorority house, on the corner of Hill and Washtenaw. The stand of trees behind it brought about the name Forest Avenue, whose extension south of Hill was called White Street (and even White Forest Street!) until 1898.
Cambridge Road had three other names. The curving part between Forest and Lincoln (Millen) was called Israel Avenue, named along with the present Olivia Street for the area's landowners and plat makers, Israel and Olivia Hall. The straight east-west part of Cambridge Road was Hubbard Street in the 1880s and 1890s, while the part north of Washtenaw was known as New Jersey Avenue.
The Halls laid Israel Avenue across the old county fairgrounds, which had been shifted a few blocks away to Burns Park. Ever widening city limits then forced the grounds to move to Vets Park (occasioning the nearby street name Fairview) and finally to Ann Arbor-Saline Road.
South University east of campus was originally Orleans Street--not a bad name for a street famed for art fairs and annual streaks!
Chubb Road and Lulu's Court
Beginning in the 1820s, Harvey Chubb traveled from his farm into town along the ridge of Buttercup Hill. His route soon began to be called Chubb Road (and, briefly, Hiscock's Road and Osborne Road). Later Chubb was inspired to seek office, becoming Ann Arbor Township supervisor in 1831 and then a representative in the 1846 and 1847 state legislatures. You'd think his public service would have kept the name going, but in 1927 it was changed to Sunset Road. (At least it's on the sunset side of town, which is more than you can say for Sunrise Court; located off Miller on the northwest side, it was called Dawn on the 1931 Sanborn fire insurance map.) Chubb Road descended treacherously to Main, but that section was discontinued when the Toledo and Ann Arbor Railroad was built along the escarpment.
Running southward from Chubb Road was one of Ann Arbor's two Grove streets. Later, because of its approximate alignment, it was called North First. Finally, in 1918, it was renamed Daniel Street, after the same farmer and supervisor whose surname, Hiscock, remains with us in a nearby street of that name.
Between Daniel and Spring was Walnut Street, changed after four years in 1940 to Pardon Street, that name lasting until 1974 without a resident. It lies buried now under the grass and trees of lower Hunt Park.
Tiny Lulu's Court off West Summit was gentrified to Hillcrest in 1946. West Summit itself had been High Street until the 1880s, when the downtown part was connected across the tracks and up the hill. (High Street's name subsequently reappeared between State and Division, claiming two blocks that originally had been the western tip of Fuller.)
South of Summit, Miller Avenue reached outward toward Dexter. As it passed nearby farms, side streets were created. Foster Road headed north to the river, where Samuel W. Foster of Dexter had built a mill. The village of Foster (called Foster's Station when it became the railroad's first stop out of town) was later renamed Newport, so in 1926 the rolling lane was changed to Newport Road. A short block's worth leading down to the river from Maple and Newport was left behind to remind us of Foster's enterprise.
Lower Town, Upper Town
There have been alterations to the face of Lower Town, but it is possible, by comparing maps and directories, to guess which old streets in the neighborhood just north of the Broadway Bridge have become our modern ones. Moore was Brown Street, named for Anson Brown, the speculator who assigned New York financial district names (Wall Street, Maiden Lane, Canal Street, Broadway) as talismans against the impending Panic of 1837. His Broadway structure, now the St. Vincent de Paul store, is the oldest surviving commercial building in Ann Arbor.
From 1925 to 1933 Longshore Drive between Swift and Barton Drive was called North Boulevard. Its first blocks, east of the right-angle turn, existed as Cedar Street until 1937. Also in 1937. Jones Drive went from a short, stubby street to a longer, winding one when it absorbed Mill Street, named for at least one mill on Traver Creek. A second Mill Street in Lower Town had been changed in 1892 to Swift, possibly in honor of Franklin Swift or his son John, both mill owners.
California Avenue existed from 1917 until 1927. After three years in limbo at rural delivery route 1, its residents found their addresses changed to the more impressive-sounding Barton Shore Drive.
Bowery Street may have been a bit of New York outside Lower Town, or oak-bowered as hinted at by Lela Duff in Ann Arbor Yesterdays, or named for Bowers, the original plat owner. It lasted under that name until 1887, when it surrendered to its own eastern extension, Lawrence. Judge Edwin Lawrence owned a home on Kingsley and other surrounding property. His wife, Sybil (Fuller), and children Mary, Edwin, and John all had streets of their own south of Packard, thanks to son John, an attorney who had bought and platted the addition. (Edwin Street later became part of Hoover; the others survive.) Fuller Road was given that name by John in honor of his mother's family.
A Page Street conundrum exists in this part of town, originally purchased by Caleb Ormsby and David Page. Early maps and bird's-eye views show a street running north from North Street (Kingsley) across Fuller (High) down to the railroad terminal. At first both blocks were called Page, but later that name applied only to the north part, which was all that was described in the directories.
Ninety years later, in the 1940s and 1950s, the Kingsley-to-High section was called Paige Street. It remains as an alley, but the original north part has vanished from its improbable terrain.
The area across the tracks from the Amtrak station that is now a parking lot and Michigan Consolidated Gas property was once a plat of streets where workers lived. Railroad and River streets, and the riverside extensions of Fourth and Fifth avenues, were condemned by the city because they had become an illegal dumping ground, according to Stephenson's Ann Arbor: The First Hundred Years.
West Side, Old and New
When William S. Maynard platted a west-side addition in 1846, its northern boundary was Eber White Road, named for the farmer whose residence it passed. But that road happened to be an extension of Liberty Street, so it became West Liberty. (The 1860-1861 directory shows that White himself called it South Liberty, the bend at the tracks probably marking the West-South change.) The old man's name resurfaced in Eber White (later Eberwhite) Boulevard.
The southern fork of West Huron, now called Jackson Road, was Territorial Road when pastor Frederick Schmid's first German-language Lutheran service was held there in 1833.
Crest south of Liberty was Buchanan Avenue until 1940, but only to Elder Boulevard, which made a south turn, curving west past Soule. Crest has since claimed the first block of that turn, and Lutz has gotten the rest, leaving Elder Boulevard as a single paved block and a few hundred unpaved feet east of Eberwhite. Hazel and Laurel Drives wriggled their way south of West Liberty between Ridgemor and Soule before World War II but disappeared when Zion Lutheran's construction began. Ridgemor itself has shifted to the other side of the church as a private drive.
In the 1940s the Mount Pleasant branch of Eberwhite Boulevard was magically skipped southward across Stadium Boulevard, where it reached to Valley Street. That block is now Woodland Drive, and Valley is part of Glen Leven Road. Kirtland Drive was going to be called Mount Vernon, but that name didn't get past the planning stage. South of Glen Leven is Normandy Road, previously called Norlar Avenue. And Pauline Boulevard, now named after west-side worthy Pauline Allmendinger, was originally West Street.
In 1927 Arbor Drive was changed to Allen Drive, finally memorializing our co-founder. Arbana Drive spent its first four years as Urbana Drive, changing in 1931.
Just west of the former county fairgrounds (now Veterans Park) was Arbor Glen Drive, continued northward by Outer Drive. The former became Maple Road in 1935, and that name overtook the latter a few years later. Beyond Outer Drive was Calvin Street, still there, but beyond it were Warren Avenue and Woodrow Street, both victims of M-14 and its ramp off Miller.
Lakewood Subdivision off Jackson Road between Bethlehem Cemetery and the Sister lakes has undergone name changes calculated to reinforce its watery image. Park Avenue has become Parklake, Grace Avenue is now Gralake, and Highland Avenue is Highlake. Andrea Court was Dolph, which mysteriously slipped south as a connection between Central and Sunnywood, which was earlier called Sunset Drive.
The 1860-1861 directory records that Charles Besimer, a cooper who worked in Israel Mowry's shop opposite the Michigan Central Depot, resided in Shin Bone Alley, a street appearing on no map and in no other directory. Unless it lives in a local memory or can someday be excavated from a newspaper or diary, this colorful name may be lost forever.
Northfield Road must still exist in Lower Town, but where? Sarah Ann Raub advertised her skills as a fortune-teller there in 1856, next door to "Squire Chase," according to Stephenson's history. Its sole resident in 1860 was constable William H. Mclntyre.
An entire phantom subdivision appeared on maps from 1864 and in directories during the 1880s and 1890s. Center, Summer, Oak, South, Lincoln, and Hamlin streets were laid out east of St. Thomas Cemetery on Chubb Road (now Sunset). The entrance to the black Elks lodge may have been Lincoln Street, continuing as a parking lot behind the lodge. Three of the streets supposedly ran east down the bluff to North Main--highly improbable, given the steep topography.
No residents were ever listed on any of the streets, and the whole enterprise faded away. It was last shown on maps in 1915, and the entire area is now part of the city's Bluffs Park. If any doubt still lingered, it now may be said definitively that Summer, Oak, and Hamlin streets will never be built.
So many different forces brought about all these changes that it seems unlikely the evolution will stop. Undoubtedly some future Ann Arborite will bring up an old 2002 map or city directory on a screen and marvel at the unfamiliar, ever growing lost street names of Ann Arbor.
[Photo caption from original print edition]: (Top of page) A nineteenth-century view of Ann Arbor from Chubb Road—today's Sunset Road. (Map, center) Jewett once linked Liberty and Huron; like Mann, which continued north from Huron to Miller, it was eventually subsumed into Seventh. (Above) Glen Avenue, previously known as Thirteenth Street.
[Photo caption from original print edition]: A century ago, the interurban railroad cut diagonally across Hanover Square on its way to Ypsilanti (above). The area south of Packard became Perry School. The other triangle is now the city's Hanover Square Park.
[Photo caption from original print edition]: Never built, this phantom subdivision between St. Thomas Cemetery and N. Main survived on local maps for more than fifty years. Today the area is part of the city's Bluffs Park.