I’m sorry to have to say this, but there is something highly suspect in the way we name our cities and streets. In Los Angeles, we have Culver City—named after a real estate developer, one Harry Culver. Van Nuys is named after a developer with the unlikely name of Isaac Newton Van Nuys. World-famous Wilshire Boulevard is named after Henry Gaylord Wilshire. Again and again, we see streets named after developers, their wives, daughters, sons, and I wouldn’t be surprised if some are called after their dogs and cats.
Where in this broad city of ten million people do we see writers like Raymond Chandler, Nathanael West, or Evelyn Waugh commemorated? And what about scientists? Granted, Burbank is named after world-famous botanist Luther Burbank—oops, sorry, it was David Burbank, a dentist and entrepreneur who gave his name to Beautiful Downtown Burbank. In a city crawling with Nobel Prize winners, it seems the names have already been taken by lowlife developers, who splashed out with their developments and skipped town before the inevitable problems began to “develop.”
When I was in Buenos Aires, I stayed on a street named Emiliano Zola. Granted, Zola was a French writer, but at least it wasn’t named after some entrepreneurial skunk. Paris has an Avenue Victor Hugo. Northern California does much better than we do, with numerous streets named after writers, not to mention Jack London Square in Oakland. Well, where is there anything in La-La Land named after Charles Bukowski or John Fante?
Is it some residual puritanism that makes us avoid artists, writers, and scientists when naming places? I am sure that Donald Trump (depicted above) is no model of right behavior.
Perhaps we should rename some of those cities and streets originally named after long-forgotten developers and replace them with people who have mattered to us—not people who have ripped off our forefathers.
And while we’re at it, what about showing someone other than dead presidents and other founding fathers on our currency? I’d like to see Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar Allan Poe, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, and William Faulkner on our currency. We can hold our head up high among the peoples of the world with our great writers.