There are but two streets in New York City that begin with X. Both are fairly nondescript, but I’m glad they’re there, since X has always gotten short shrift in the naming department, and when most words begin with x, the letter is forced to adopt a different sound, since beginning a word with a “kz” sound would be awkward. Usually, a “z” sound gets the nod.
Both are Xenia Streets: in Corona, Queens, and Old Town, Staten Island.
Xenia (which I had thought was a flower, but that’s zinnia) is a Greek term meaning ‘strange’ or ‘foreign’; it frequently turns up in combined terms like xenophobia, fear of strangers, or philoxenia, kindness toward strangers. It is also a city in Ohio and a variety of coral.
In Corona, Xenia Street is amid a cluster of streets that run NW to SE in defiance of the overall numbered grid. It’s generally nondescript with mid-20th Century homes along it.
Why does this cluster of odd, narrow streets exist? It predated the overall grid that was taking shape in Corona and Forest Hills, and there were already homes constructed there, so the streets were left in place when the rest of the area was developed.
Actually I had hoped to find another “x” street nearby because in Forest Hills, streets were named in an A-Z alphabetical system. Alas, X was passed over in this scheme, with Webb going straight to Yalu. All of these streets were numbered in the 1920s except one: Jewel Avenue.
Washington. DC has letter streets as well as an alphabetical grid, but the letters go from A-W, skipping “J,” and the names generally go from A to W, with Yuma added. No “X.”
In Staten Island, Xenia Street runs for just one block between Hurlbert Street and Mason Avenue in Old Town. It seems to be a standalone “X” street not part of an alphabetical grid. Or… is it?
If you look at the map, there are alphabetized streets: Hickory, Jerome (the I is skipped), Kensington, Lamport, Malloy, Norway, Oberlin, Parkinson, Quintard, Reid, Vulcan and Winfield; the S, T and U streets, Scranton, Tacoma and Urbana, are about a mile west, west of the Staten Island Railway. That leaves the A through G streets; I’m not sure what happened to them, but and X street, Xenia, would fit in with this pattern.
South of here, there’s another loose alphabetical grid in Midland Beach: Baden, Colony, Freeborn, Grimsby etc. I’d love to know the story behind these alphabetical grids.