Chapter 16
A Community of Tennessee Writers, Readers & Passersby


John Egerton reflects on the history in a name

May 24, 2011 As construction begins on a Nashville road that connects the Tennessee State University campus with Centennial Park, writer John Egerton considers the significance of the names of local roads: “I found myself thinking about how much history is yielded up in the words and symbols of a good map when I saw in the paper recently that construction of a connector street between 28th and 31st avenues will be given a ceremonial send-off today, just a couple of miles west of the Metro Courthouse,” he writes in an op-ed piece for the Murfreesboro Daily News Journal.

In addition to explaining the significance of names like Charlotte Pike and Dickerson Road, Egerton makes a proposal:

Since 1968, A&I has been Tennessee State University, the primary public institution of higher education in Nashville. In a straight line, the corner of its main campus is a mere two miles from the corner of Centennial Park on West End Avenue, but no road has ever linked the two. Now, at last, a two-way street will change that. The twain will meet—and the symbolism is almost as strong as the steel and concrete.

So far, the engineers are still in possession of the name. But calling it “the 28th-31st Avenue Connector” just won’t do. How about something like “Oprah Winfrey Way”—honoring the TSU alumna whose world-famous TV program also reaches a milestone this week?

Read the full essay here.

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