These Streets Named After Celebrities Will Make You Want to Move Away From Main Street


Apr. 27 2020, Updated 1:51 p.m. ET

Thanks to a unanimous vote by the New York City Council, you might soon be able to live on streets named after hip-hop legends Biggie Smalls (AKA Notorious B.I.G. AKA Christopher Wallace) and Wu-Tang Clan, as well as "This Land Is Your Land" composer and folk singer Willie Guthrie. As soon as the mayor signs off, that is.

Each of these honorary streets will be located in the artists' home boroughs, with Christopher Wallace Way set to be located on St. James Place, between Fulton Street and Gates Avenue in Brooklyn, where the rapper grew up.

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Wu-Tang Clan District will occupy the space between Vanderbilt Avenue and Targee Street in Staten Island, and Woody Guthrie Way would be located on Mermaid Ave in Coney Island, between West 35th and West 36th Streets.

If you already frequent these spots, you might already know about the cultural weight they hold for these late legends, and may be a little more than bummed out to learn that people will soon be flocking in from every corner of the world to take selfies with your neighborhood street signs.

streets named after famous people
Source: getty
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But don't worry — the news of Wu-Tang Clan District has piqued my curiosity in other incredible honorary street names, and these will make for great places to visit if you need to take a brief step away from Coney Island.

Oprah Winfrey Way — Chicago, IL

Although Oprah Winfrey claims to no longer miss Chicago, she does have a little bit of geography to commemorate her tenure in the Windy City. When she stepped down from her talk show in 2011 after a 25-year run, then-mayor Richard Daley secured her legacy by naming the street outside of Harpo Studios Oprah Winfrey Way. 

"I'd like to say thank you to the mayor and city of Chicago," Winfrey said at the time. "This place is my Tara."

Peter Jennings Way — New York City, NY

Kids of the '80s and '90s might remember how most evenings began with Peter Jennings speaking on ABC's World News Tonight. After he died in 2005, ABC decided to commemorate him by renaming the street of their news headquarters after the late anchor. Today, tourists and Upper West Siders can stop by the street named after this legend on West 66th Street between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue.

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streets named after famous people
Source: getty

Hepburn Circle, Astaire Avenue and Garland Drive — Culver City, CA

To commemorate some of the greatest MGM stars, streets honoring Fred Astaire, Judy Garland and Katharine Hepburn are all clustered together in Culver City, on what was formerly the back lot of the historic MGM Studios. Don't miss this "drive" of fame next time you visit Los Angeles. These stars' streets are located between Washington and Culver Boulevards.

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Hugh Hefner Way — Chicago, IL

Hugh Hefner doesn't really require an introduction, but the Playboy entrepreneur and Chicago native now has a street named after him in his hometown. Located in the Magnificent Mile neighborhood, Hugh Hefner Way sits in front of 919 N. Michigan Avenue, which was the former headquarters of Playboy Enterprise.

If you find yourself in the Windy City and have already checked Hugh Hefner Way and Oprah Winfrey Way off your list, pay homage to Sam Cooke by visiting his street on 36th Street and Cottage Grove Avenue.

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Dave Grohl Alley — Warren, OH

I'm not sure why this is surprising, but it's definitely hilarious that Warren-born Dave Grohl has an alleyway in Ohio commemorating his career and legacy. The Foo Fighters founder and former Nirvana drummer is so loved by his hometown that they decided to not just make an alley in his name, but convert that into an outdoor art gallery too. Bonus points for the fact that Dave Grohl Alley is also home to the world's biggest drumsticks. Road trip, anyone? This is a bucket-list stop on any Nirvana or Foo Fighters die-hard's list.

Flaming Lips Alley — Oklahoma City, OK

For a band that's been together for over 30 years, we can all agree the Flaming Lips don't get terribly much recognition. But some kind soul in the band's hometown of Oklahoma City decided to change that back in 2006, when they named an alley after the rock band. Next time you're in Bricktown, take a drive over. Though some describe it as "littered with open dumpsters and poorly lit at night," others call it "very high-profile and very safe and clean." I'm curious to learn which one it really is.

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Jerry Orbach Way — New York City, NY

I personally have a soft spot for the corner of West 53rd and 8th Avenue AKA Jerry Orbach Way because of 1) my undying love for the whole Law & Order franchise and 2) the fact that my first-ever job was located on this block. 

Back in 2007, after his widow petitioned relentlessly for a street to be named after the actor who so lovingly brought Detective Lennie Briscoe to life, he finally received it three years after passing. The actor lived on the northwest corner of the intersection for more than 25 years, and it's a must-visit for fans of the show.

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Mark Hamill Drive — Clairemont, CA

The Luke Skywalker actor, who also made a name for himself as a voice actor in Batman: The Animated Series and The Simpsons, recently got a street named after him in his hometown within the Clairemont neighborhood of San Diego. “To say that I am grateful would be an understatement,” he said at the time. Next time you're in SoCal, pay the street a visit by heading to Castleton Drive between Mount Abernathy and Clayford Streets.

Tupac Lane — Las Vegas, NV

Although Tupac Lane was probably not named for the legendary rapper who was murdered in Sin City back in 1996, the coincidences are too big to ignore. The street was named back in 1990, when Tupac Shakur was just another member of the Digital Underground, but it's hard to believe it was named to commemorate the last Inca king, as The Awl convincingly points out.

Whether it was named to pay tribute to him, or to commemorate the not-yet famous rapper, you'd be crazy not to take the chance to drive along the strip blasting "Dear Mama." Oh, and while you're there, don't miss the opportunity to make fun of the Las Vegas developers' carelessness and snap a selfie with the misspelled Jane Austin Avenue, Alfa Romero Avenue, and De Vinci Court. 

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