The Address Book: Discussion Thread #1

Welcome back! This week, we’re kicking off The Address Book by Diedre Mask, a book that dives into the origins and creation of street addresses and what they say about the world they represent.

I’m really enjoying this one so far — this week the goal was to read up through Chapter 4, but there’s still plenty of time to get your hands on it — and here’s a few topics to kick us off:

  • Much of the introduction and first chapter was about the privilege of merely having a street name, highlighting folks in West Virginia who lacked one and for whom that made life incredibly difficult. Going into this book, what had your expectations been? Did you know that street addresses were a fairly modern innovation? Did you know people still lacked them?

  • British imperialists sought to rename the streets of Kolkata to suit their aims, but only bothered with the parts of town they spent time in. Today an organization is attempting to name the streets of Kolkata’s slums. This is controversial, with some arguing a two-tiered system — street names from the government for some, street names for the slums from others — isn’t productive. What did you make of this debate?

  • Rome made roads, but did not give them names. Chapter 3 was all about where street maps originate from, namely: paths (roads), nodes (intersections), edges (rivers and rails), landmarks, and districts (“Soho”). Thinking about your city, what defines its streetplan?

  • How dare they do Gropecunt Lane dirty like that?

  • “The future of street names is women,” have you seen anything like that in your area?

As a reminder, here’s our schedule:

Comment below with your thoughts?