Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Fastest Mile in America

The Driving Park Race Track at the southwest corner of Maplewood was in existence from 1874-1899. It was bounded by the Driving Park Avenue in the south, Birr Street on the north, the railroad tracks to the west and Dewey Avenue on the east. Perhaps you knew that the name Driving Park Avenue comes from the name of the race track that was once there. But, did you know why the track was called “the fastest mile in America,” with excursion trains from New York City and ferry boats from Canada bringing tens of thousands of spectators? Or that the Vanderbilts raced their horses there? Or that a woman cyclist raced against a mare there and the cyclist won? Learn about all this and more, and see hitherto unpublished, recently digitized photographs (many made available for the first time by private collectors) that capture the life and times of the race track and its people.

Landmark Society volunteer Nicholas Zumbulyadis will present this illustrated lecture on Thursday, October 16, from 12:30-1:30 p.m. at the Penfield Recreation Center, 1985 Baird Road.

Our dedicated volunteer, Nick Zumbulyadis, asked me to post the above information about his upcoming lecture. It brings up a topic that is of endless interest to those of us who are interested in history and, especially, the history of places: how places got their names! There are so many interesting place names around us, from streets like Driving Park Avenue to entire neighborhoods, villages, and towns. What better way to show that you're a true Western New Yorker than to correctly pronounce Chili or know the origins of Swillburg!

So readers, let's hear from you: what are your favorite place names, in Western New York or elsewhere? Are there any local place names that make you really scratch your head? (If so, I'll ask Cynthia Howk, our architectural research coordinator and resident encyclopedia of Rochester-area history, if she has an answer for you!) And be sure to check out Nick's lecture, which is certain to be fascinating.

Posted by Katie Eggers Comeau, Advocacy Coordinator, and Nick Zumbulyadis, Landmark Society Volunteer



Anonymous said...

Let's hear about more unusual place names and their origins!

Kate said...

I love the history in place-names! I grew up in a small town in Indiana called Ireland, despite the fact that almost everyone in the area was of German descent - but the first settlers (before they moved on) were MacDonalds from Ireland, and the name stuck! (There's a lot of other place-names like Switzerland, Warsaw, English, and others I'm forgetting in the area.)

Laura said...

I've often struggled to explain to people why our Chili and Leroy are pronounced the way they are, mainly because I have no idea. (I just say we're weird here. I obviously need to come to Nick's lecture...)

The only other that comes to mind is Eldorado, Illinois. I think the locals pronounce it the way they do due to the Kentucky-influenced accent of the area, but still I stuck out like a sore thumb when I said "El-dor-AH-do" instead of the preferred "El-dor-AY-do."