Local History: Street Names

A Step Back in Time…a Brief Lesson on Our Street Names!

by Ron Browning


The City of Havre de Grace has many historians who have researched our unique past. The Ells-worth Shank Lecture Series, offered monthly, January-June, presents a lively discussion about our roots. Visit www.hdgtourism.com or call the Tourism office at 410-939-2100 for the schedule and topics.

One of our well-versed historians is the proprie-tor of La Cle D’or Guest House and Chair of the Historic Preservation Commission, Mr. Ron Browning. Mr. Browning was asked to share for this publication, how our streets got their names. It really is an interesting lesson for readers of all ages to know the thought behind the names of the first streets of Havre de Grace!

The story begins…

In 1782, Robert Young Stokes, the owner of this farmland, commissioned the original lay-out of the City. The design was an imitation of the City of Philadelphia. Mr. Stokes then set about naming the streets with a clear idea in mind.

Streets located to the north side of town from Congress Avenue were named after American Revolutionary Patriots. Here you will find: Washington, Franklin and Adams Streets. Also recognized for their contributions were Army General Nathaniel Greene and General St. Clair. Unfortunately for St. Clair, his named street was later bumped to honor George T. Pennington, Mayor of Havre de Grace 1923-1939. Warren Street was named in honor of Dr. Joseph Warren, a patriot, one of the Sons of Liberty and President of Massachusetts’ Provincial Congress. Dr. Warren was killed in the Battle of Bunker Hill.

St. John Street was named after the Anglican Parish of the Church of England.

Located south of Congress Avenue, named to honor our country’s governing body, are streets with French names – given as a nod to our Country’s alliance with France during the Revolutionary War. Here you will find: Alliance Street – in honor of this friendship with France and Lafayette Street – named in honor of the Mar-quis de Lafayette who served as Aide de Camp to General George Washington. Bourbon Street was named in honor of Louis XVI and the French Royal Family, known as The House of Bourbon (pronounced bor bon, not “burr bin” like the whiskey!)

Girard Street has two possible histories – Girard, with this spelling, was an Ambassador from France. Gerard, spelled with an “e”, was a banker from Philadelphia who was known as the big financier of the Revolution. Differing accounts give credit to both persons.

Concord Street is a reminder that we not forget those who died for our country in the Battle of Concord.

Market Street was named for the once thriving market located in this area.

Juniata Street was named for a river system located in Pennsylvania. Other streets named for bodies of water include: Erie, Ontario, Superior and Otsego.

And finally, for Mr. Robert Young Stokes, the owner of the land that would become our City, Young, Stokes and Giles Streets all give a nod to his family.

*This article was originally published in the Fall/Winter 2013 edition of Citizen Connection.