Growing up in Montclair (for me), Thornhill Drive was always just Thornhill Drive. But come to find out it was once called Thorn Road (sometimes Thorne Road). Thornhill is a nicer sounding name than Thorn. But there is a perfectly good reason as to why it was called Thorn Road.
William J. Dingee 1878 Map of Oakland, Berkeley, and Alameda. David Rumsey Map Collection –
The name goes back to 1856 when a man named Hiram Thorn (Hiram Thorne) built the road at a hefty expense. Thorn’s road brought redwood logs to Oakland out of the vast forest known as the Moraga Redwoods, where he ran a lumber mill on Pinehurst Road. Thorn was later given a franchise to run and collect tolls for the road, it was one of 3 toll roads in Oakland. In 1933 Thorn Road officially became Thornhill Drive.
Oakland had lots of streets that seemed to be named for tress. Like Acacia Avenue Beech Street, Birch Street, Holly Street, Linden Street, Locust Street, Palmetto Street, Pine Street, Poplar Street, Plymouth Street, Redwood Road, Sequoyah Road, Spruce Street, Walnut Street, and Willow Street. To name a few.
In the Laurel District, there are streets named for the states. The streets are Maine, Vermont, Jersey, Montana, Texas, Ohio (now Dakota) Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas. California and Wisconsin Streets. Maine, Vermont, and Jersey are no longer due to the construction of the MacArthur Freeway. I happen to live on Georgia Street.
In Sequoyah Hills, which located in the Oakland Hills above 580, off of Keller Avenue, directly below Skyline Blvd. The streets are named Hansom, coach, chariot, phaeton, shay, and surrey are varieties of horse-drawn carriages. Better yet, the theme is a pun, considering the wheel-like arrangement of Shay, Phaeton, and Coach streets radiating from Hansom.
In Montclair, there is a group of streets possibly named for early explorers. The streets are Balboa Drive, Cabrillo Drive, Cabot Drive, Drake Drive, Gasper Drive, Magellan Drive, and Mendoza Drive. Another group of streets seems to be named after WW I Generals. They are Liggett Drive, Pershing Drive, Sims Drive, and Wood Drive.
The following is a group of articles by Albert E. Norman from the Oakland Tribune in 1960-1960.
If you have wondered about the name of your street, leave a message below, and I will check it out.
Oakland related links:
- The Old Thorn Road – San Francisco Nov 14, 1896
- Thornhill Drive Now Road’s Name – Oakland Tribune May 16, 1932
- List of Streets – Oakland Local Wiki
- Street Signs – Oakland Local Wiki
- Some Street Name Changes in Oakland CA – Steve Morse
- Old Street Names Go with the Times – Oakland Tribune May 01, 1952
Misc Street Links:
Coming soon Gold Star Streets