Highway names

Page Stephens hpst at EARTHLINK.NET
Wed Jun 11 19:46:03 UTC 2003

As long as I can remember having been raised in southern Illinois, attended
college in Indiana and am currently living in Cleveland, Ohio I have always
used the number of the highway without any modifier such as route, highway,
etc. Thus when you wanted to give directions you merely said something like
"go west on 161" or whatever. The only time I can recall using a modifier in
Cleveland is in order to distinguish a highway from an interstate but in
that case you would normally tell someone to take the local entrance ramp
onto I-480, I-71 or whatever and take it either in or out of town in order
to get to your desired destination.

This usage has probably changed somewhat over the years but the older, i.e.
highway names referred to the destination of the roads still exist in such
places as Cleveland in terms of street names. Thus Lorain Avenue leads you
eventually to Lorain, Ohio, and route 150 in Champaign, Illinois was at
least when I lived there 30 years ago called "The Danville Road" by old
timers since it went to Danville, Illinois.

Then there is the opposite effect when street names in a particular town
like the one I grew up in, Centralia, Illinois, became the name for roads
leading out of it. The Green Street Road never received a highway number but
if you wanted to get to Salem, Illinois you could either take 51 north out
to 50 at Sandoval and then go east. Or you could take the Green Street Road
which led to the same place since it connected with
50 just west of Salem. 51 was a north south road and 50 was east west. If
you took the Green Street road you could cut across the diagonal and then
run into 50 just before it reached Salem.

By and large in Illinois north south highways had odd numbers as I recall
but not without exception since 161 ran east and west.

Page "It's a lot more fun to be the informant than it is to be the
anthropologist" Stephens

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