Now that we have a South MLK Boulevard, why not a North? And other street-name musings

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BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. holds a place of honor and respect in America — especially among the African American community — comparable perhaps only to Abraham Lincoln.

By one estimate, 900 U.S. cities in 41 states have a street named after the martyred civil rights leader — more than even the 16th president. Although, as Nebraska natives might point out, Lincoln has a whole city named in his honor.

Bakersfield of course is among the cities that have a street named for The Reverend Doctor King, having renamed Lakeview Avenue in 2002. Well, now it has two such streets. The southern extension of that street, Lakeview/MLK, is no longer Cottonwood Road north of Casa Loma Road. As of this week, it’s South Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

That change puts an end — in this one instance — to a small but occasionally annoying feature on the map of many cities, Bakersfield included — streets that change names midstream for no outwardly apparent reason. California Avenue becomes New Stine Road, not to be confused with Stine Road. Stockdale becomes Brundage — we can all think of a dozen more examples — and now, even with the demise of the historically meaningful name Cottonwood Road the issue persists in southeast Bakersfield. MLK, to the north, becomes Haley Street. Still.

If we’re going to have any sort of consistency, why not rename Haley Street this: North MLK Boulevard? Former Bakersfield Police Officer Brad Roark suggested that change, perhaps tongue in cheek, in a Thursday letter to the Bakersfield Californian. Such a move would give us, about a mile north of East Brundage Lane this: The intersection of MLK and Lincoln, where the namesake of one civil rights icon would meet another.

Just something to chew on.

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