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Strassen und Wege

Published by Steve Campion. Category: Counties & Towns

Since the early 1960s, the former timber and railroad town of Leavenworth has modeled itself as a Bavarian village.  The shopfronts are ornamented and the festivals have emulated those in southern Germany.  And you can’t miss the steep peaks of the North Cascades rising above the town like the famous Alps of Europe.

But forty years after transforming its buildings and culture to the Bavarian theme that tourists love, Leavenworth was still laid out on a grid of streets with ho-hum names like 9th and Commercial.  How many towns have that intersection?

Acting on a suggestion from the Chamber of Commerce and name proposals from a review board, the city chose a set of German alternatives in 2003, and put up new street signs five years later.  The signs now display two names, English and German, although they aren’t intended to be translations of each other.  The dual identities caused a little confusion at first, but the town uses both.  Businesses typically use the English on their mail and the German for advertising.  The post office supports both.  And since the names are limited to the downtown cultural area, the tourists enjoy this last bit of Bavarian detail without disrupting the residential addresses north of State Route 2.

For bucking the trend toward commonplace and numbered streets, we happily list the unique German roads of Leavenworth, WA.


Original Name German Name Significance or Meaning
Division Street Adler Strasse Eagle Street, appropriate for the Audubon Society
Commercial Street Markt Strasse The market, or shops are located here
Front Street Park Strasse The park is on this street
Main Street Fluss Weg This street is near the river (fluss)
8th Street Bogener Strasse Name of a Bavarian town
9th Street Alpen Strasse The Alps (mountains)
10th Street Festhallen Strasse Home of the town’s new festival hall
alley Edelweiss Weg A flower
alley Enzian Weg Another flower

SOURCE: Doing the research for this list was very pleasant. I picked up the names as I bicycled around town one morning this summer.  Some of the background information in the introduction was added with the kind help of Cary Siess, assistant planner for the City of Leavenworth.

PHOTO © Steve Campion


One Response to “Strassen und Wege”

  1. Joan Says:

    A very nice touch to add to the ambiance of a delightful town.