Though we apparently have no idea how to properly pronounce the names of our streets, at least we all know how to say the word terrace. That’s good, because we have a lot of them.
Turns out San Francisco has more than its fair share of streets that end in the word terrace, according to a new study by data scientist Seth Kadish, who must have dreamed as a boy of growing up to be a cowboy or an astronaut, and now writes computer programs that count the distributional frequency of street name suffixes in American cities.
Kadish looked at Chicago, Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York, and Philadelphia, in addition to us. You can see the full results here. In each city, the plurality of streets ended in the word street (except for Chicago, which had more avenues than streets). That held for San Francisco as well, but we had far more terraces, and far fewer places or drives than other cities.
Best guess for San Francisco’s relative affinity for streets that end in the word terrace? City Lab thinks it could be our “legion of hills and steep, winding roads.” That’s a safe bet. In fact, the explanation is either that one, or the legacy of the first urban planner to work for the city's government. Hired back in 1852, he was a Mormon transplant from St. Louis trained by the Royal French Academy of Civic Nomenclature who was, briefly, roommates with Mark Twain. His name? William Foster Terrace.