ST. LOUIS – Did you ever wonder how St. Louis roads got their names? Some of the names around St. Louis are based on historical figures or buildings in the area. 

FOX 2 asked the Missouri Historical Society about the stories behind St. Louis street names. The following information is from historical documents that the agency found.

Arsenal Street is named after the U.S. Arsenal that was located at the foot of the street. The arsenal was established as a distributing post in 1826. 

Lemay Ferry Road might be named after three ferrymen. Three ferry licenses from the 1830s to the 1840s issued to men named Lemay, Tesson, and Dougherty. Historians say this might be how Lemay Ferry Road, Tesson Ferry Road, and Dougherty Ferry Road got their names. 

The Big Bend is known as one of the largest public highways in St. Louis County. The road runs from Delmar Boulevard in University City to Sulphur Spring Road. Big Bend then connects with Oak Street south of Manchester. 

A map issued in 1862 shows a fork about two miles west of Geyer Road. One branch is now called “Big Bend.” The south fork is now Marshall Road. 

In 1925, the cities of University City, Richmond Heights, and Maplewood recognized that Big Bend was now a part of the County Highway System. They then agreed to change Pennsylvania Avenue to Big Bend Boulevard. 

Kingshighway Memorial Boulevard was a section of North Kingshighway. This section was between Dr. Martin Luther King Drive and West Florissant.

This section was called Kingshighway Memorial Blvd because of the World War I memorial. The memorial had “Gold Star Trees” that were selected shortly after the war to serve as reminders of the city’s fallen heroes. 

To construct the Mark Twain Expressway, more than 100 bronze plaques honoring St. Louisians killed in World War I had to be dug up.

On a different note, Lindbergh Boulevard might have been called the “Racetrack of Death.” St. Louis County Coroner, Raymond I. Harris, and a jury of traffic experts wanted to cheekily rename the road because of fatal wrecks. 

According to St. Louis, Missouri’s government, there are three different circumstances in which a street can be renamed: 

  1. Naming or renaming an existing street;
  2. The naming of a new street within a subdivision approved by the City’s Board of Public Services; and 
  3. Honorary naming of an existing street. 

The first two processes are lengthy due to reviews by several parties. 

The third and final street naming process is much shorter. In those cases, the street’s current official street name will still be used, but an honorary street name will also be designed.