Beyond History Blog

Street names: What do you do, if you don’t know how to name something?

Heike Leiacker - 09. July 2017 - General, Germany, Knowledge

You can find streets or parts of streets that never had any official name – for whatever reason. But that there actually is a street that is called “Namenlose Straße” (Nameless Street)? Yes you can find that as well! Namely in Glückstadt, Germany.

The tranquil, small town on the banks of the Elbe river in Schleswig-Holstein near Hamburg is just short of a population of 12,000. It was founded by the Danish king Christian IV in 1617. The location was strategically chosen; it was supposed to serve as a point of connection to Lower Saxony and allow for maritime trade. As a symbol to achieve this, it was called Glückstadt (Fortune City) and has Fortuna in its emblem. Even if you can’t imagine it today, the town was planned generously enough to compete with Hamburg. It is a planned town which you can see looking at its streets until today. The town was growing fast and was from 1630 onwards the German royal seat of the king as well as the center of the Danish activities in Schleswig-Holstein. But it became obvious that Glückstadt was indeed of military importance until the 18th century, but was never able to compete with Hamburg regarding trade. In 1863 the Danes left Glückstadt and Schleswig-Holstein became a Prussian province in 1867.

At the beginning there probably weren’t any street names. You could simply describe where or near whom you lived. As the town grew or under the Prussian rule distinct street names were introduced an official addresses started to exist. They were named due to their function, the practiced professions (Schlachterstraße, Butcher Street), the places they led to (Große Kremper Straße) or after famous persons (Königstraße, King Street). According to the tourist information of Glückstadt there soon were difficulties in finding names. One way to deal with this was to just assign names twice: Große und Kleine Kremper Straße (Big and Small Kremper Street), Große und Kleine Deichstraße (Big and Small Dike Street) etc. Indeed you can find a lot of these Names in Glückstadt. But what could you do, if there wasn’t absolutely anything special to be found in a street? This was probably the reason for calling the Namenlose Straße (Nameless Street) exactly that.

Somehow I think this is really a nice story. Doesn’t anybody know the feeling when you absolutely have no new ideas (who likes to find yet another new password for example?)? In any case, it is a nicer story than another less verified one that implies the name has to do with a mass grave in the times of the pest.

By the way, you can find the street with this strange name quite central between town square and inner harbor.

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