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18 historic street names in Asheville

Asheville has 226+ years of history. In this guide, we’re diving into the city’s oldest streets and how they got their names.

avl history street names

East-west thoroughfare Patton Avenue.

Photo by @matty.media

Table of Contents

The city of Asheville was incorporated in 1797 when Asheville was renamed from Morristown after a slaveholder and governor named Samuel Ashe.

It’s safe to say that over the years, the city has been touched by countless historical figures and happenings — many of which have shaped the names of Asheville’s buildings, parks, and streets. In this guide, we’re delving into the history of Asheville’s streetsspecifically how they were named.

West Asheville

An eclectic spot full of art, breweries, restaurants, and entertainment, it was once colloquially known as “Worst Asheville” due to the crime and neglect that characterized the neighborhood before its renaissance in the 1990s.

Patton Ave. is named after James Washington Patton, a prominent merchant and slave holder, who wanted an east-west thoroughfare to increase commerce. This became Patton Ave.

Burton St. was originally known as Buffalo Street until it was renamed Burton Street in 1922 after John Burton, one of the city’s founders.

Haywood Rd. was named such because it led to neighboring Haywood County.

Beacham’s Curve took its name from the original operators of one of the country’s first electric streetcars that began offering service in Asheville around 1916.

While historians aren’t sure precisely who named it, they agree Hominy Valley was named after the Native word for corn.

North Asheville

A walkable, tree-lined neighborhood comprised of families, retirees, and college students from UNC Asheville, North Asheville also offers quality neighborhood eateries and entertainment.

Merrimon Ave. is named after Augustus S. Merrimon. Merrimon was an attorney, a US Senator, and a Chief Justice of North Carolina’s Supreme Court that supported policies that favored whites.

Chestnut and Orange Streets were named based on the color of the area’s vegetation.

Reems Creek was named for a pioneer, Mr. Rims, who was killed near the bank of the creek.

Downtown

Much of what we love about our charming downtown — like its stunning architecture and opportunities for shopping, eating, and entertainment — took place in in the 1920s, a decade-long period of growth for the city.

Broadway was changed in 1914 from North Main Street. The name came from the Morgan N. Smith shop, which promised to be a “Broadway” style shop.

Chicken Alley’s name comes from the chickens that used to populate the alley during Asheville’s early days. Now, it’s known for the chicken mural, created by Molly Must.

Wall St. was named for the iconic street in New York, at a time when planners were working to craft a more affluent feel in the city.

Battery Park Ave. is named after the Battery Park Hotel. This is where George Vanderbilt supposedly looked out and saw Asheville’s landscape and decided to purchase land.

Walnut St., along with other downtown roadways like Spruce St. and the erstwhile Water St., were named after naturally occurring features in the area.

East Asheville

This neighborhood blends historic bungalows and newer homes with shops, restaurants, and iconic attractions like the WNC Nature Center and the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Tunnel Rd., which passes through Beaucatcher Mountain and was built in 1927, is named after the Tunnel.

Gashes Creek Rd. is named for Martin Gash, who bought land there on Nov. 27, 1793 after migrating from Rutherford County.

Chunn’s Cove Rd. is likely named after its first pioneer, Samuel Chunn, who owned a hotel on what is now Pack Square, a tanyard near what is now Merrimon Avenue, and land on either side of Town Mountain.

Settled in the early 1700s, Haw Creek Rd. was named for the wealth of Hawthorne trees that grew along the banks of area creeks.

Riceville Rd. got its name from settler Joseph Marion Rice.

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