What is a street name

8 minute read

Now that we have streets sorted, we need to work out what part is the name. The most common full street name may be “Small Street”, but I now want to separate the name, Small, from its desriptor Street.

import pandas as pd
import geopandas as gpd
import matplotlib.pyplot as plt

import shapely
%matplotlib inline

streets = pd.read_csv("clean_streets_reduced.csv")
0                    1
1          10th avenue
2          12th avenue
3    12th avenue north
4          12th street
Name: name, dtype: object

Attempt 1

Lets keep it simple to start of with: the first part of the street name is the name an

def get_name1(full_name):
    '''Gets the name of the street: full name minus the last word.'''

    split_name = full_name.split()
    return split_name[0]

streets["street_name"] = streets["name"].apply(get_name1)
the        247
st         108
park        95
william     73
john        70
Name: id, dtype: int64

And the most common name is “the”. As in “The Avenue”, “The Grand Parade” or “The Serpentine”. In my mind “The” is an integral part of the street name. The whole name should be The Avenue, The Grand Parade or The Serpentine.

The second most common is “st” as in “St. Mark Close” or “St. Thomas Road”. In these cases I think the names should be “St. Mark” or “St. Thomas”.

Let’s revise that funciton. If the name starts with “The” the full name is its name. Otherwise it will return everything other than the last word in the name:

def get_name2(full_name):
    '''Gets the name of the street: full name minus the last word.
    Unless the full name starts with "the", then return the full_name

    split_name = full_name.split()
    if split_name[0]=='the':
        return full_name
        return ' '.join(split_name[:-1])

streets["street_name"] = streets["name"].apply(get_name2)
park        92
victoria    60
railway     56
william     54
Name: id, dtype: int64

“Park” is now the most common - which sounds about right. But is the second most commmon. These are streets with only a single word like "Broardway" or "Kingsway". Lets do another revision: now if the full name is only one word, return that word:

def get_name3(full_name):
    '''Gets the name of the street: full name minus the last word.
    Unless the full name starts with "the" or is a single word,
    then return the full_name.

    split_name = full_name.split()
    if len(split_name)==1:
        return full_name
    if split_name[0]=='the':
        return full_name
        return ' '.join(split_name[:-1])

streets["street_name"] = streets["name"].apply(get_name3)

park        92
victoria    60
railway     56
william     54
short       53
Name: id, dtype: int64

This looks fine! Lets look at what the descriptor would look like. For this, I’m just taking what is left after the name:

def get_description(full_name):
    '''Gets the description of the street: the last word of the
    full name, unless the full name starts with "the" or is a single word,
    then return None.

    split_name = full_name.split()
    if len(split_name)==1:
        return None
    if split_name[0]=='the':
        return None
        return split_name[-1]

streets["street_description"] = streets["name"].apply(get_description)

street       12755
place         6359
avenue        5862
road          4345
lane          2228
close         1732
crescent      1626
drive          969
way            841
court          672
parade         461
circuit        389
grove          286
terrace        103
offramp         97
onramp          80
glen            57
boulevard       55
north           55
south           50
Name: id, dtype: int64

This mostly looks ok, but then we see descriptions like ‘north’ and ‘south’ which aren’t what I orignally intended. Also “offramp” and “onramp”. Those steret names are things like “Bathurt street offramp”. I don’t want the name to be “Bathurst street” and the descriptor “offramp”. I rather the name be Bathurst, and the descriptor be street offramp.

At this point I thought that I could identify all the street descriptors, identify where in the full name the descriptor would be. Then everything before the descriptor would be the name, and everything other would be an optional suffix.

This did not work. For one there was more descriptors than I thought - 192 for the Sydney data test I’ve been testing with. Including typos like “roaw” and “avenur”. Then I realised that there are streets whose name is also a descriptor: Park Lane is common, but there is also Grove Avenue, Terrace Lane and many many more.

I could have started to do something fancy like “identify the last occurace of the descriptor and everything before is the name and everything after is a suffix”, but it just seemed too much. Maintaining a list of descriptors takes time, especially when I’m doing it over a larger area than Sydney.

Intead, I decided to focus on just the main suffixes: North, East, South, West, Offramp, Onramp and exit. If these appear at the end of the full street name I’ll mark them as a suffix, otherwise I will stick to the same logic in get_name2

def three_name_model(name):
   '''Gets the name of the street, descriptor and suffix

   Suffix: if word ends with north, east, south, west, offramp,
   onramp or exit, this is the suffix

   Descriptor: the last word of the full name once any suffix is
   removed. Unless what is left is a single word or starts with "the",
   there is no descriptor.

   Name: what remains of the beginning of the full name
    suffixes = ["north", "east", "south", "west", "offramp", "onramp", "exit"]

    split = name.split()

    suffix = None
    descriptor = None
    street_name = None

    if len(split) == 1:
        street_name = name
        # If the last word in the name is a recognised suffix
        if len(split) > 2 and split[-1] in suffixes:
            suffix = split[-1]
            split = split[:-1]

        if split[0] == 'the':
            street_name = name
            descriptor = split[-1]
            descriptor = split[-1]
            street_name = " ".join(split[:-1])

    return street_name, descriptor, suffix

streets["street_name"], streets["street_description"], streets["street_suffix"] = zip(*streets["name"].map(three_name_model))

park         93
victoria     66
railway      57
william      57
short        53
king         50
albert       50
station      49
george       47
church       47
stanley      44
james        44
charles      43
campbell     42
edward       42
wentworth    40
john         40
elizabeth    39
gordon       39
arthur       39
Name: id, dtype: int64

The street names still appear fine. Checking the descriptors:

street        12860
place          6362
avenue         5924
road           4485
lane           2242
close          1733
crescent       1651
drive           989
way             848
court           672
parade          472
circuit         392
grove           293
terrace         105
boulevard        63
glen             58
motorway         53
highway          32
square           29
row              27
boulevarde       22
walk             22
esplanade        21
gardens          21
bridge           17
parkway          17
mews             16
circle           15
m7               15
rise             14
glade            14
green            12
loop             12
promenade        11
ridge            11
bay              11
link              9
trail             8
tunnel            8
park              7
Name: id, dtype: int64

The descriptors also mostly appear fine. There is an appearance of “M7” which is a major highway which has many onramps, offramps and exits. But as we want to fine the most common street name, not so much the descriptor, this isn’t a problem.

offramp    99
onramp     80
north      55
south      50
west       46
east       44
exit       21
Name: id, dtype: int64

And finally our suffixes. Pleasingly the cardinal directions have similar occurances. It also makes sense that there are more offramps than onramps as highways start somewhere (so don’t need an on-ramp) and you don’t want more input into your road than output.

The most common street name in Sydney

Finally, the most comomn street name in Sydney is “Park”, followed by “Vitoria”, “Railway”, “William” and “Short”. Most suburbs in Sydney would have at least one Park, subsequently many also have a Park Road (most often). Even in Sydney CBD there is a Park Road that goes in between Hyde Park.

Many of the other street names are related to royalty: Victoria, King, Albert and Alfred (Victoria’s second son who actually visited Sydney). William and George were also names of Kings, but they were also common first names.

A few names relate to early Australian coloinal history:

  • Wentworth, an explorer (also could be his father, the first paying passenger to come to the colony)
  • Hunter the second govenor of the colony
  • __Cook: Captain Cook claimed the east coast of Australia for the British
  • Macquarie: the fifth govenor of the colony
  • Mitchell: an explorer

park          93
victoria      66
railway       57
william       57
short         53
king          50
albert        50
station       49
george        47
church        47
stanley       44
james         44
charles       43
campbell      42
edward        42
wentworth     40
john          40
elizabeth     39
gordon        39
arthur        39
hunter        38
smith         37
carrington    37
cross         37
boronia       36
mary          36
rose          36
margaret      35
cook          34
first         34
west          34
waratah       34
macquarie     34
mitchell      34
york          33
rawson        33
thomas        33
second        32
wattle        32
western       32
bridge        31
alfred        31
russell       31
pine          31
francis       31
phillip       30
young         30
hill          30
nelson        30
bellevue      30
Name: id, dtype: int64

My original motivation for this was the most common street names for many states in the USA are plant names like Cedar or Oak. I didn’t think we did this in Australia - so I set out to find out. At least in Sydney, we see some plant names in the top 50: Boronia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rose (although I think more likely to be a name), Waratah (NSW state emblem), Wattle (National flower of Australia) and Pine. Pine is really interesting as I don’t think there are native pine trees in Sydney. Perhaps named after Norfolk pines which were introduced to Sydney early on.

But, they are no where close to being the most common. Sure, this data is only for Sydney, but I doubt it will change when we look at the whole nation. Flora is diverse in Australia. Boronias and wattles are more or less nation wide, but Waratahs are only in the south east. Introduced pines are nation wide, but are mostly in state forests without many streets. And different states will then add their own native plants to the mix. A state may have a plant name as the most common street name, but I doubt there will be many in the top 10 street names nation wide.