• Kyknoord
  • From K-Town to the western limits, Chicago’s streets are sensibly named

I grew up in Alphabet Town, the part of Chicago where the north-south streets are organized by initial—the best street-name plan in the city.

Those of you who think the city ends at Halsted may be surprised to learn about Alphabet Town. It begins just west of Pulaski, where the streets start with K. The K streets are succeeded after Cicero by the L streets; after Central come the M streets; and Narragansett leads off the Ns. On the north side, where Chicago extends farther west, there are even O and P streets.

It’s not clear who came up with the initial idea, but the plan at one time was to have all our north-south streets (“avenues,” formally) alphabetized: a mile of A streets, followed by a mile of B streets, and so on. It’s also not clear why the plan was only partially implemented, and why it started with the Ks. A speck of a similar intelligent design exists on the southeast side, where for a mile the north-south street names run from Avenue A to O.