ONCE UPON A TIME IN NORTH PARK University Heights Street Names Explained By Katherine Hon Secretary, North Park Historical Society In the large development of University Heights, which was mapped in 1888, the original street naming pattern consisted of states in the U.S. for streets oriented north-south, and presidents of the U.S. for streets oriented east-west. We have heard lots of different theories about the basis of the state naming pattern (geography? year of statehood?). This is my theory: The state streets roughly follow a geographic pattern, but you have to compare the 1888 University Heights map to the U.S. map by imagining you are holding the U.S. map standing on Adams Avenue at the north edge of the tract and looking southward toward Balboa Park.
Map of University Heights filed by the College Hill Land Association, August 6, 1888
Map of the United States
Beginning on the upper left (northwest) side of the University Heights map and the upper right (northeast) side of the U.S. map, the street names are Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, New York, Delaware, and Maryland, (skipping Cleveland and Campus avenues which also run north-south), North, Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Arizona, (missing New Mexico), and California, then circling around to Oregon, Idaho, Utah, (missing Colorado), Kansas, Nebraska, skimming over to Ohio, then missing Indiana and circling back to Illinois, Iowa, and Missouri. Changes since the original naming are that Maine is now Caminito Fuente, Carolina is a continuation of Park, California was changed to Hamilton in 1899, Nebraska is now 30th, and Missouri is now 32nd. The name change of California Street was likely to match with Hamilton Street (now Villa Terrace) in the Park Villas tract to the south. In University Heights, the presidential street naming pattern began with John Adams, president from 1797-1801, in the north. Names of the streets that are east of Park Boulevard and the site of the campus follow the presidents southward in chronological order of their terms in office with James Madison (1809-1817), James Monroe (1817-1825), Andrew Jackson (1829-1837), Martin Van Buren (1837-1841), William Henry Harrison (1841, died in office), John Tyler (1841-1845), James Polk (1845-1849), Zachary Taylor (1849-1850, died in office), and Millard Fillmore (1850-1853). Van Buren Avenue is only on the west side of the campus site; University Boulevard was the name for the wide street leading to the campus from the east. This street name was changed to El Cajon Avenue in 1899. Other changes to names in this part of University Heights are that Jackson is now Meade (renamed in 1900 for George Meade, a Civil War Union general); Harrison is Howard, (renamed in 1899 possibly for Oliver Otis Howard, another Civil War Union general and founder of Howard University); Taylor is now Lincoln (renamed in 1899 for Abraham Lincoln); and Fillmore is now University Avenue (renamed from Fillmore to Garfield in 1899 and changed in 1900 to University). An inconsistency in the pattern is that John Quincy Adams, president from 1825-1829 is skipped due to the name already being used. Also, on the map pictured there is no Jefferson Avenue for Thomas Jefferson, president from 1801-1809. But north of Adams Avenue, Collier Avenue was once Jefferson. On the west side of University Heights, the street names continue the presidents but not in any discernable chronological order. Names start in the northwest corner with James Garfield (1881, assassinated), and continue southward with James Buchanan (1857-1861), Franklin Pierce (1853-1857), Andrew Johnson (1865-1869), Rutherford Hayes (1877-1881), Abraham Lincoln (1861-1865, assassinated), Ulysses S. Grant (1869-1877), Thomas Hendricks (who was Grover Cleveland's Vice-President in 1885, and who died in his sleep on November 25, 1885, leaving the country without a vice-president for three years), Grover Cleveland (18851889 and 1893-1897), and James Blaine (who was a U.S. Senator and ran for president in 1884). There is no street for Chester Arthur, president from 1881-1885. Perhaps the developers considered him a poor substitute for James Garfield, whose assassination would have been recent at the time of the subdivision mapping, and who was honored with a long street in the northwest corner of the subdivision fronting a park. Abraham Lincoln was also honored with a long street, as was Grover Cleveland, who was the current president at the time of mapping. In the street naming, Cleveland is flanked by Hendricks, his Vice-President, recently deceased at the time of mapping, and Blaine, his opponent in the most recent election. The developers may also have liked the pattern of having Grant, chief of the Union army in the Civil War, follow Lincoln, President through that difficult time in our nation's history. With Buchanan and Johnson in the correct places chronologically, Pierce and Hayes fill in the missing positions.
Changes to street names in this part of University Heights are that Grant Avenue is now Pascoe Street, and Hendricks Avenue is now part of Washington and the 163 highway interchange. The northeast trending portion of University Boulevard is now Normal Street, named for the campus that became a teacher's college ("normal school") although it was originally proposed to be an extension of the University of Southern California. Garfield Avenue is now part of Golden Gate Drive, which had been mapped in 1888 as Golden Gate Avenue from Maryland to Campus. By 1906, Arch Street, Proctor Place, and New Jersey Street replaced the area originally planned to be Mystic Lake. Although the original mapping pattern in University Heights has been interrupted by subsequent name changes and a variety of inconsistencies, the overall geographic pattern for state streets and chronological pattern for president streets created a meaningful theme for this large development. The state name pattern carried into various subdivisions south of (now) University Avenue in 1899, when the names of eleven north-south streets were changed from names of people known in the 1870s (when the Pauly's Addition, Park Villas, and West End tracts were mapped) to the closest matching street in University Heights. But that's another story!