Bo Crane authors a book, The Streets of Menlo Park, in time for the city’s 90th anniversary

by Linda Hubbard Gulker on November 20, 2017

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Take a quick glance at the photo to the right, taken in Menlo Park. Now answer: Where exactly? Is there a street in Menlo called Fourth Street?

Of course there is, or it wouldn’t be in the new Menlo Park Historical Association book written by Bo Crane called the The Streets of Menlo Park.

Bo explained that there used to be a First, Second and Third Street, too, all going into Dibble Hospital on the site that now houses SRI International. “They’re just driveways now,” he said. “Only Fourth Street remains off of Ravenswood Avenue.”

Bo started research for the book this past February at the request of MPHA President Jim Lewis who thought it would be interesting to compile information about every street that has a Menlo Park mailing address, whether it be in the city or the county, in time for the City of Menlo Park’s 90th anniversary of incorporation on Nov. 23.

It became Bo’s full time task. He used subdivision maps that give the name of the developer and sometimes adjoining property owner, which are filed with the County of San Mateo and can be researched online. Another source was Census data from 1860-1940 that he accessed via Ancestry.com.

“The most difficult are streets with first names of people,” Bo said. “We’re hoping that people contact us if they have information about streets that are missing.”

The MPHA is located on the lower floor of the Menlo Park Library; email is mphistorical@yahoo.com. The Streets of Menlo Park can be purchased online.

The rear cover of the book states: “This is just not a compendium of street name origins — it is a book of people, those for whom the streets were named and those who developed them. Within this book is a story told through street names of how an American town was formed over the last 150 years.”

Here are a few fun facts from the book:

Thirteen streets have “oak” as part of a name, e.g. Oak Grove Avenue, or within a name, e.g. Oakley.

Some names are simply descriptive. Newbridge Street was named for the Dumbarton Bridge which opened to vehicular traffic in January 1927 [replaced as a four-lane structure in 1982].

Sometimes streets are out of sync. Partridge Avenue lies inexplicably amongst collegiate street names, parallel to College and Cambridge Avenues because when Patrick Mary Partridge, who owned property fronting El Camino Real, passed away, his heirs did not sell the family parcel to a developer purchasing surrounding properties.

If you’re going to call your development Sharon Heights, then evidently give streets mountainous sounding names: Warner Range, Siskiyou, Monte Rosa, Crest, Olympic, Sierra, Cascade, Trinity, Tioga.

Don’t want to slight a person? Then combine the names of two people, Marion and Ramona, into one street name, Marmona. They were granddaughters of a colonel who served in the Union Army during the Civil War.

Photo by Robb Most (c) 2017

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