Street names are product of one woman's research

April 27, 2002|By JACUES KELLY

ONE OF THE pleasures of this job arrives in the mailbox. I am indebted to Elizabeth Lee Davis, who wrote me several weeks ago. She, too, is an observer of Baltimoreans and their living habits, where they tend to move and why certain things are so.

She possesses insider knowledge. In the 1940s and '50s, when Baltimore was expanding in all directions, she worked for the Welsh Construction Co. on Fayette Street.

"Mr. Morris Macht, president of the company, had the theory that there was an invisible line dividing east and west Baltimore. It was Charles Street. To prove his theory, he kept a record of where people lived before they bought the houses that his company was building," she writes.

She went on to say that at that time, more than half a century ago, the Machts were building in Northeast Baltimore off Loch Raven Boulevard and in Edmondson Heights and Academy Heights in Baltimore County.

"For several years I kept the record and found his theory was correct, very seldom did the buyers cross the invisible line of Charles Street," she wrote, adding:

"When new areas were developed and planned the street layout and names had to be approved by the city or county authorities. Mr. Macht suggested that I use the London map to find different names for the various streets in our developments. He also liked two syllable names because he thought they would be easier to remember."

She recalls naming Langford, Clairidge and Kirkwood roads in Edmondson Heights after London counterparts. (I'll add this: the streets nearby: McAdoo, Daniels, Baker and Gregory are named for officials in Woodrow Wilson's administration. There's also a Wilson Avenue.)

In the Academy Heights community (itself named for the Mount de Sales Academy of the Visitation, the school now celebrating its 150 years), there are Lambeth, Stratford, Greenlow and Whitfield roads, all named after London streets she located on a map.

Off Loch Raven Boulevard, in the Northwood section, she named Sheffield, Lockwood, Northwick, Northgate and Kingsway roads.

How many times I've traveled along Loch Raven Boulevard and glanced up at the street sign for Kingsway. Never did I associate it with the Bloomsbury section of London. And no matter how many times I've visited London, and stayed at the Hotel President, just up the way from the Kingsway, never did I make the London-Baltimore connection until I received my letter from Elizabeth Lee Davis.

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