So Many Broadways

Why? Why are there so many cities with streets named ‘Broadway’?



Whilst many cities can claim a Broadway street, there is none more famous than New York’s. This now bustling hubbub was once part of an Indigenous trail called Wickquasgeck.

Moving forward to Dutch takeover and 17th Century New Amsterdam, cows could be found mud-walking their way through an 80 foot wide path called ‘Brede Wegh’. “Let’s take the koeien down the broad way”.

When the British came in, they Anglicized ‘Brede Wegh’ to Broad Way.

There were plenty of cities, of course, with broad ways. Some Broadway streets were specifically named after New York’s, with local leaders hoping to invoke some of that big city magic. Here in Vancouver, Canada, 9th Avenue was renamed ‘Broadway’ in 1909. As Elizabeth Walker wrote in her 1999 Vancouver Historical Society ‘Street Names of Vancouver’:

‘Broadway. Changed from 9th Avenue in 1909, By-law 676. During a real estate boom the name was changed in anticipation of the area becoming the centre of a great metropolis a la Broadway, New York. By-law 2014,1929, changed the designation to Broadway East and West from Ontario Street. By-law 2082,1930, stated that 9th Avenue from Courtenay to Blanca Streets would continue to be known as West 9th Avenue’.


Header Photo: E.M. Bofinger. Times Square 1938. NYC Municipal Archives.



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Let Vultures Gripe Thy Guts

Elizabeth Newton

Elizabeth Newton