Thirteen years ago, Tim Weiner, then a reporter for the New York Times, wrote about the street names in Mexico City. I saved the article, e-mailed it to a few friends, and recently came across it once again – an excerpt is reprinted below.
(Weiner has since left the Times and has won a Pulitzer and a National Book Award for his writings on national security issues.)
Mexico City: This is not a place where people live on 88th and Third, as in Manhattan, or 35th and P, as in Washington. This is a place where people live on Heart and on Soul. They live on Forest of Light, Mirror of Water, Forest of Miracles, Garden of Memories, Tree of Fire, Forest of Secrets, Sea of Dreams.
Surreal street names can reflect hard realities:
Work is long. Love and Happiness are short. Good Luck crosses Hope, then hits a dead end.
Intersections become works of imagination: the Volga River flows into the Nile, Beethoven meets Bach, the Himalayas cross the Alps.
And Comprehension ends in Silence.
(Ed Note: That’s none other than Juan Sebastian Bach. The Times showed the street sign. There’s further background in the first comment.)