Street stories

By Liliana Castillo: Freedom New Mexico

Streets are the veins of a city. They run throughout the city, dictating where and how the city’s traffic will flow.

Though the names of Clovis and Portales’ streets are decided by the contractors who divide up a subdivision, the people who made these cities what they are have dictated those names.

No rules govern the names of city streets, according to Kevin Musick, traffic control superintendent with City of Clovis’ Public Works Department. But there are suggestions.

In general, Musick continued, names are kept short, especially with the wind in this area.

Being around before streets are created, when they are a blank canvas, is helpful when choosing names. Lydick Engineers and Surveyors has been part of the process in Clovis and Portales since 1961. Chad Lydick said the company has named many streets over the years, with the developers’ consent.

The streets running east to west in the original townsite were first named for well-known men of the day. The names were changed to numbers in the mid-1920s.

Streets around the city can define the neighborhood. Many streets around Chaparral Country Club in north Clovis are named after golf players, such as Nancy Lopez Drive. Lopez, born in Torrence, Calif., won the New Mexico Women’s Amateaur at age 12 in 1971 and went on to become the LPGA Rookie of the Year in 1977.

Another street by the golf course, Ray Harding Drive, has a more local source. Harding was one of the first golf professionals at Colonial Park Golf Club. He also helped design and construct the course.

Well-known Prince Street is named for a territorial governor, L. Bradford Prince, who was governor from 1889-1893. L. Casillas Drive on the southwest side of Clovis is named after the long-time resident who started Guadalajara Restaurant in that part of town.

While streets in Clovis have remained the same since the 1920s, Portales’ names were completely overhauled in 1952, according to Planning and Zoning Director Sammy Standefer.

“We used to have really good names throughout the downtown,” he said, looking at a map of Portales from 1949. “But they were changed and put in alphebetically. Probably for emergency services.”

A northwest portion of Portales was renamed with types of trees and put in alphabetically. Lime Street is in the section after Juniper and Kaywood Streets. A private drive around the Baptist Children’s Home was named Children’s Drive. Another area of Portales, southeast of downtown, was given street names of cities, such as Chicago, Boston, and Indio.

How to name a street
Want to name a street after a loved one? Don’t bank on it.

Renaming a street isn’t very popular, according to Kevin Musick, traffic control superintendent with City of Clovis’ Public Works Department.

The new name has to be taken in front of the city commission. If approved, the entire street has to be re-signed and addresses changed.

Short names are best, but some names seem to invite theft of the signs.

“Girls’ names are bad news. They (people) steal them (the signs) as fast as they go up,” Musick said.

Other street signs that are often stolen include Happy, Stoned, Player, Wrangler Way and Rodeo.