The Literature Lesson Behind Columbia’s Streets

November 13, 2020


Story behind the street signs of Columbia


Has the cabin fever set in already? Seriously, though. The kids aren’t even going out to the bus stop, let alone around the neighborhood. Well, we might have a solution.


You might already know this, but Columbia’s neighborhoods are a built-in literature lesson! Most of the street names are derived from the works of poets, authors and artists. Here’s a Baltimore Sun article that talks a lot about those names and their origins.


Street name references from each village


Here are some neat examples of streets and what they’re named after:


Dorsey’s Search

Tarkington Place – reference to Ogden Nash poem called “Thou Should’st Be Living in This Hour”

Harper’s Choice

Wood Elves Way – reference to J.K. Tolkien’s novel, The Fellowship of the Ring

Hickory Ridge

Snuffbox Terrace – reference to Mark Twain’s novel, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

King’s Contrivance

Strawturkey Court – named for Alan Lomax’s folk song called “Turkey in the Straw”

Long Reach

Kind Rain – reference to (John) Robinson Jeffers’ poem, “Summer Holiday

Oakland Mills

Sohap Lane – reference to Carl Sandburg’s poem, “If So Hap May Be”

Owen Brown

Pigeonwing Place – reference to Paul Laurence Dunbar’s poem, “Angelina”

River Hill

Reedy Song Knoll – reference to Walt Whitman’s poem, “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d”

Towne Center

Amesbury Drive – named for Robert Frost’s poem, “A Blue Ribbon at Amesbury”

Wilde Lake

Greek Boy Place – named for William Cullen Bryant’s poem, “The Greek Boy


And that’s just the start!


Explore more about Columbia’s streets

The new Columbia Maryland Archives site has an entire Place Name database. You can log on and search for street names around your neighborhood and look into the origin. Just scroll over the Search option, click on Place Name and see what you can find. Check out the book at Howard County Library. Write something new based on the road you live on. Make more art based on the art that your neighborhood is named after.


EXTRA CREDIT: There’s a lot of history here in Columbia. We have some great stops to consider in our Guide to Distance Learning Success. Submit your email for a downloadable PDF on our School Age Services page. 👇👇👇

distance learning

For more tips, check out the CA Parents’ Corner blog.


“When Plan “A” doesn’t work, don’t worry, you still have 25 more letters to go through.” – Unknown

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