Ventura street names have interesting origins

by Richard Senate

The Street names in Ventura reflect her long and colorful past. Each one  has its own story to tell. The Street we call today “Main Street” was once known as “El Camino Real”  the famed royal road that linked all the Missions in Spanish Times. With the coming of the Yankees they wanted to devest themselves of anything that sounded Spanish so the name was changed official by Ordinance #10 in 1867 by the new city of San Buenaventura.

The oldest street name  that survives today is that of  “Figueroa” that stands before the old Mission. Contrary to legend, it wasn’t named after the popular California Governor of that name. It is named for the local blacksmith named Figueroa who had an adobe on that street in 1850. “Palm Street” was named for the three tall date palms planted at the Mission by the padres. Sadly these tall trees, once landmarks are gone. Perhaps we should plant new ones to replace them?

“Oak Street” was given that name because a large oak tree one  stood on the roadway. It first appears on the maps in 1869.  “California Street  is believed to have been given its name when California became a state in 1850.  It ran from Main Street to the spot on the beaches where boats landed before the construction of the pier in 1872.

“Thompson Street” gets its name from local farmer “Dixie” Thompson who was known for his  dancing horsed that performed in local parades. It was originally called “Meta Street” and used as a horse racing track in Mission Times.  “Poli Street was named for popular landowner and doctor Dr. Manuel Antonio Rodriguez de Poli. He was our first town doctor. He had a large adobe on the place where it turns to connect with the Ventura Avenue.

“Ventura Avenue” was originally called  “Canada Street” before its name was changed by an act of the state Assembly in 1872.  Another odd street name is “Sanjon Street”. It is not named after an unknown Catholic saint, even if it sounds that way. It was a Yankee corruption of its true name–“Zanja” that means a man made ditch or canal. The names of our street tell a unique story of our community.

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