Project Section: Streets & Buildings

Streets & Buildings


Who is your street named after? Who is your child’s school named after? In both cases, the odds are it’s a man.

Naming patterns are another way in which women are marginalized. Our children grow up in a world where most of the streets and buildings are named after men. The subliminal message is that men are the ones who matter, men are the ones who contribute and lead. Women aren’t even worth mentioning.

There is no existing data that tracks the names of streets by gender, race, religion, or any other variable. But the traffic circles in Washington D.C. are probably representative of the rest of the country. There are a total of 29 traffic circles in our nation’s capital. Of these, 20 are named after men, 2 are named after women, and 7 are named after locations. That means that only 7% of traffic circles are named after women, while 69% are named after men. Or, to slice it differently: of the traffic circles named after people (as opposed to geographical locations), 91% are named after men. Another interesting point is that neither of the 2 traffic circles named after women features a statue in the middle, though 9 of the traffic circles named after men do.

Our Streets & Buildings project will involve encouraging municipalities to name streets and buildings after prominent female citizens, and persuading school systems to increase the number of schools named after women. We’ve already started street name projects in Washington, D.C. and California, with more states in the works.

If you’d like to be involved, please email us at streetsandbuildings@equalvisibilityeverywhere.org.

Streets & Buildings Project Updates

Roads named after two women in Ohio

October 17, 2010 by EVE   · Comments Off

From the Akron Beacon-Journal:

amha16cut_04Located at the edge of a park inAMHA’s Edgewood Village, the street sign on a corner now bears the name of roads honoring ”two exceptional leaders in the community” — Rita Dove Lane and Mary Peavy Eagle Court.

Akron Metropolitan Housing Authority Director Tony O’Leary unveiled the sign Friday at an event that attracted more than 150 guests.

Dove, daughter of the first black research chemist at Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co., received a Pulitzer Prize in 1987 at the age of 34 for her third book, Thomas and Beulah, a collection of poems based on the lives of her grandparents in Akron. …continue reading

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Beating the streets

June 26, 2010 by Lynette Long, Ph.D., President of EVE   · Comments Off

Dolley Madison lived in the Octagon House after British troops burned the White House in the War of 1812.

The Octagon House was home to Dolley Madison after the White House burned.

In this summer heat, EVE volunteers have been beating the streets researching the names and addresses of famous women who were born in D.C. or spent part of their lives in D.C. In our quest for equal visibility, we found out some interesting things.

  • Jackie Kennedy lived in five different addresses in D.C. …all in Georgetown.
  • Other First Ladies have also lived in Washington, D.C., exclusive of the White House. Eleanor Roosevelt lived on R Street NW, Dolley Madison was a resident of the Octagon House, and Mary Todd Lincoln spent many months at the Lincoln Cottage on the grounds of the Soldiers’ Home.
  • …continue reading

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EVE kicks off street names project in D.C.

June 5, 2010 by Suzanne Scoggins, Director of Women's History   · Comments Off

Last month our president, Dr. Lynette Long, blogged about street names in Washington, D.C. and her letter to the City Council members about the importance of honoring women. Today Dr. Long had her first meeting with Councilmember Muriel Bowser, who represents Ward 4. Councilmember Bowser was very enthusiastic about our project, and she and Dr. Long discussed the possibility of honoring Elizabeth Proctor Thomas (“Aunt Betty”), the farmer who owned land on which Fort Stevens was constructed:

Elizabeth Proctor Thomas (1821-1917)

Elizabeth Proctor Thomas (1821-1917)

Elizabeth Proctor Thomas (1821-1917), a free Black woman whose image appears on each Brightwood Heritage Trail sign, once owned 11 acres in this area. Known respectfully in her old age as “Aunt Betty,” Thomas and her husband James farmed and kept cows here. When the Civil War came in 1861, her hilltop attracted Union soldiers defending Washington.

As Thomas later told a reporter, one day soldiers “began taking out my furniture and tearing down our house” to build Fort Stevens. Then a surprising visitor arrived. “I was sitting under that sycamore tree . . . with what furniture I had left around me. I was crying, as was my six months-old child, . . . when a tall, slender man dressed in black came up and said to me, ‘It is hard, but you shall reap a great reward.’ It was President Lincoln.”

For years afterward, even though her land was returned, Thomas unsuccessfully pressed the federal government to pay for her destroyed house. “[H]ad [Lincoln] lived, I know the claim for my losses would have been paid,” she said. Thomas died at age 96 after a lifetime of community leadership and activism.

Although Elizabeth Thomas is recognized on the Brightwood Heritage Trail, there are no streets named after her. Councilmember Bowser suggested including our proposal as part of the development plans for the Fort Stevens area.

We’ll be moving forward with other possibilities in the District as we continue to do research and compile data.

Note for potential volunteers: if you’re in the D.C. area and would like to help with the research and legwork for the street name project, please email us at volunteers@equalvisibilityeverywhere.org or write directly to Dr. Long at president@equalvisibilityeverywhere.org.

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Streets & Buildings in the News

Barcelona authorities want more streets and plazas to be named after women

June 7, 2010 by Lynette Long, Ph.D., President of EVE   · Comments Off

EVE is not alone in its efforts to create gender parity. Barcelona wants more streets named after women. From barcelonareporter.com: Wanted: high achieving women to lend names to Barcelona streets |... ...continue reading

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U.S. Lags Behind Israel in Street Naming

On September 20, 2007 the Jerusalem Post published an article entitled, “In a sign of the times, more streets to be named after outstanding women.” Obviously, in its quest to name streets after... ...continue reading

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Akron has a new street name: Rosa Parks Drive

April 17, 2010 by Suzanne Scoggins, Director of Women's History   · Comments Off

City and Metro Transit officials mingle after the unveiling of the Rosa Parks Drive street sign at the Metro Transit Center. Go, Ohio! That’s what I said when I saw this news item from the Akron... ...continue reading

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