Old New Street

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From June Teufel Dreyer:

As June writes, "there must be a story behind this–a 'New New Street' somewhere, perhaps?"

All that I know about this curiously named street is that it is in the Red Light District of Amsterdam.


  1. AndrewD said,

    April 11, 2019 @ 7:48 am

    Am I the only one surprised at Victor apparent surprised? this may be because I am a European and used to such things-here in Leicester we have a New Walk which is over 100 years old

  2. AlexB said,

    April 11, 2019 @ 8:09 am

    In Frankfurt they have an entire new old town


  3. Andy said,

    April 11, 2019 @ 8:25 am

    There is in fact a 'Nieuwe Nieuwstraat' a few blocks to the south. The reason for this must of course be that there were at some point two streets called 'New Street', and they needed to be distinguished.

  4. Victor Mair said,

    April 11, 2019 @ 8:32 am

    I love this! We're getting "New Old XX" and "Old New XX"! And "New New XX"! I wonder if we'll get an "Old Old XX"?!

  5. KeithB said,

    April 11, 2019 @ 8:33 am

    Like "Fifth Third Bank"?

  6. Roger Depledge said,

    April 11, 2019 @ 8:34 am

    Indeed, the Nieuwe Nieuwstraat has its own Dutch Wikipedia page. According to the scholarly encyclopedia site Ensie.nl, the two streets, laid out in 1550 and 1578, were distinguished by age in the first half of the 17th century.

  7. Anschel Schaffer-Cohen said,

    April 11, 2019 @ 8:38 am

    Reminds me of the famous Altneuschul in Prague, Europe's oldest still-in-use synagogue.

  8. Gregory Kusnick said,

    April 11, 2019 @ 9:11 am

    The main street in North Bend, WA is Southeast North Bend Way.

  9. Victor Mair said,

    April 11, 2019 @ 9:22 am

    Old Route 30

    When I was a boy, I lived on a stretch of Old Route 30 outside of East Canton (Osnaburg), Ohio. In a winding, curving kind of way, it paralleled New Route 30, which was much, much straighter and far more level than the original road.

    Route 30 was also called Lincoln Highway, one of the earliest transcontinental highways for automobiles across the USA. Although most of it had been covered over with asphalt when I lived there (1950s), the whole thing was originally paved with brick, and my poor, little brain had a hard time conceiving of how many bricks there must have been used to build the Lincoln Highway from coast to coast. I still think about that as a matter of human abilities and the scale / scope of construction projects.

    U.S. Route 30

    Lincoln Highway

    U.S. Route 30 in Pennsylvania

    A fully interactive online map of the Lincoln Highway and all of its re-alignments, markers, monuments and historic points of interest can be viewed at the Lincoln Highway Association Official Map website.

  10. keri said,

    April 11, 2019 @ 10:01 am

    @ Victor:

    There is an Old Kings Rd in my city that got rerouted a decade or two back and was colloquially called Old Old Kings Rd and New Old Kings Rd. I believe pressure and confusion collapsed them back into Old Kings Rd and New Kings Rd, but I don't live in that part of town anymore so I'm not really clear on what happened. I do still have to check which Old Kings Rd I'm headed towards if I'm given an address or directions, because the confusion lasted long enough that I can't remember the resolution.

  11. mollymooly said,

    April 11, 2019 @ 10:29 am

    Old Newton is a village in Suffolk. Disappointingly, its distinguishee is not New Newton but Newton Green.

  12. Jonathan Weisman said,

    April 11, 2019 @ 11:03 am

    Though no sign is displayed, when a 17th-century synagogue was restored in Barbados, the small community found itself with two synagogues, one 300 years older than the other yet never before used by the community (two separately-founded groups, historically). Accordingly, the restored synagogue became the “new old shul”, and the more recent one the “old new shul”.

  13. J.W. Brewer said,

    April 11, 2019 @ 12:12 pm

    A parallel phenomenon that is a bit less semantically transparent can be found in the street grid at the lower tip of Manhattan. Pearl Street was so named by the Dutch because it originally ran right along the waterfront at the beginning of the East River, which in those days still had plenty of oysters in it. Eventually landfill pushed the shoreline further out, Pearl Street was now a block inland, and a new right-along-the-waterfront street needed to be given a name, which was and is Water Street. Then the same thing happened two more times, generating first Front Street and then South Street. So each incremental name made plausible sense semantically in its original context as "last street in this direction before we run out of dry land," but they didn't get as overtly absurd when overtaken by subsequent events as "Old New Street" does.

  14. bks said,

    April 11, 2019 @ 1:50 pm

    And, of course, the Pont Neuf (New Bridge) is the oldest bridge in Paris crossing the Seine.

  15. Jerry Friedman said,

    April 11, 2019 @ 1:50 pm

    Princeton University used to have an "Old New Quad" and a "New New Quad" for the obvious reason. I gather there have been changes since then.

  16. john v burke said,

    April 11, 2019 @ 2:00 pm

    @Jonathan Weisman: …but that one, I don't go to."

  17. Chris C. said,

    April 11, 2019 @ 2:42 pm

    Some Orthodox Christians still refuse to use a "New Calendar" first promulgated in 1582.

  18. The Other Mark P said,

    April 11, 2019 @ 2:50 pm

    Annecy in France has an "old town", named appropriately enough "la Vielle Ville, Annecy" (or "Vieil Annecy").

    There is also an entirely separate town, not far away, called Old Annecy, "Annecy le Vieux".

    That's not confusing at all to visitors, many of whom end up in entirely the wrong town.

  19. Jen in Edinburgh said,

    April 11, 2019 @ 3:52 pm

    There's a nice near-pair in Morpeth in Northumberland – Oldgate, and Newgate Street. What pleases me about this is the suggestion that by the time the Newgate was named they'd forgotten that a gate *was* a street, and had to tag on the extra explanation – but the Oldgate just stayed as it was.

  20. Gregory Kusnick said,

    April 11, 2019 @ 4:35 pm

    There seem to be a number of fictional cities called New New York.

  21. Victor Mair said,

    April 11, 2019 @ 5:09 pm

    This street exists in Borough Park, Brooklyn:

    From Ze'ev Sudry. (Source.)

    Apparently the Dutch like this sort of thing, even in the environs of New New Amsterdam.

  22. Victor Mair said,

    April 11, 2019 @ 5:11 pm

    From Thome Loggins:

    Here is an example of another form of that naming convention. Old Old Highway 11, in the northwestern corner of South Carolina. All that is left of the old old highway is a short hypotenuse of a road that lets you cut the corner where Highway 11 (not Old Highway 11) runs into Highway 276. There are no houses or other structures on the old old road and it seems to serve no real purpose anymore except to make me smile every time I see the sign.

  23. Victor Mair said,

    April 11, 2019 @ 5:26 pm

    @ Jen in Edinburgh:

    "Gate" must be cognate with "gata" in Swedish, which means "street, road, roadway, row, drag". But there's also "gaten", which means "gate". I remember when I was living in Sweden (Uppsala), I saw lots of "gaten" in the towns, and I took them to mean "street".


    From Middle English gate, gat, ȝate, ȝeat, from Old English gæt, gat, ġeat (“a gate, door”), from Proto-Germanic *gatą (“hole, opening”) (compare Old Norse gat, Swedish and Dutch gat, Low German Gaat, Gööt), from Proto-Indo-European *ǵʰed- (“to defecate”) (compare Albanian dhjes, Ancient Greek χέζω (khézō), Old Armenian ձետ (jet, “tail”), Avestan ‎ (zadah, “rump”)).



    I don't know Finnish well enough to say for sure, but I suspect that "katu" ("street, avenue") is related. Wait! Online Etymology Dictionary says it is:


    gate (n.)

    "opening, entrance," Old English geat (plural geatu) "gate, door, opening, passage, hinged framework barrier," from Proto-Germanic *gatan (source also of Old Norse gat "opening, passage," Old Saxon gat "eye of a needle, hole," Old Frisian gat "hole, opening," Dutch gat "gap, hole, breach," German Gasse "street, lane, alley"), of unknown origin. Meaning "money collected from selling tickets" dates from 1896 (short for gate money, 1820). Gate-crasher is from 1926 as "uninvited party guest;" 1925 in reference to motorists who run railway gates. Finnish katu, Lettish gatua "street" are Germanic loan-words.



    And here's from the American Heritage Dictionary Indo-European Roots Appendix:



    To release, let go; (in the middle voice) to be released, go. Oldest form *g̑heh1‑, becoming *g̑hē‑ in satem languages and *ghē‑ in centum languages.
    Derivatives include heir, and gait.

    go1; ago, forego1, forgo, from Old English gān, to go, from Germanic variant form *gaian.
    Suffixed form *ghē-ro‑. heir, hereditament, heredity, heritage; inherit, from Latin hērēs, heir (? < "orphan" < "bereft"). Possibly suffixed o-grade form *ghō-ro‑, "empty space." -chore, horiatiki; anchorite, chorography, from Greek khōros, place, country, particular spot; choripetalous, from Greek khōris, khōri, apart, separate. Possible suffixed zero-grade form *ghə-t(w)ā‑. gait, gate2, from Old Norse gata, path, street; gantlet1, gauntlet2, from Old Swedish gata, lane. Both a and b from Germanic *gatwōn‑, a going. Suffixed zero-grade form *ghə-no‑. Hinayana, from Sanskrit hīna‑, inferior, verbal adjective of jahāti, he leaves, lets go (< reduplicated *ghe-ghē-ti, *ghe-gheə-ti). [Pokorny 1. g̑hē‑ 418.] Source


  24. Chips Mackinolty said,

    April 11, 2019 @ 5:40 pm

    As a child I grew up on Old Northern Road in a suburb called Baulkham Hills (in Australia). It always puzzled me that a "new Northern Road" didn't exist. Naturally I am now able to google it–it still doesn't exist, but the history of the Old Northern Road is much more interesting than I knew, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_North_Road_(New_South_Wales)

  25. KB said,

    April 11, 2019 @ 5:53 pm

    > "Gate" must be cognate with "gata" in Swedish

    And with "gate" (=street) in Norwegian. Pronounced as two syllables, like the Swedish.

  26. ÄntC said,

    April 11, 2019 @ 6:12 pm

    Yes, in mediaeval York (the original one) "all the streets are called 'gate', and all the gates are called 'bar'" — is a catchphrase for the tourists.

    I used to live just outside Walmgate Bar.

  27. Victor Mair said,

    April 11, 2019 @ 7:10 pm

    From June Teufel Dreyer:

    There’s a major, and lovely, (overarching banyan trees, low stone coral walls, bougainvillea) thoroughfare here [Miami] called Old Cutler. For years, I puzzled about where the other Cutler was. A couple of months ago, exiting a local landmark barbeque called Shorty’s with the kids, I noticed what appeared to be the end point of a rather dinky looking street, apparently the new Cutler, where the Metrorail terminates. How strange is that?

  28. Deborah Pickett said,

    April 12, 2019 @ 6:32 am

    Related: Melbourne, Australia has a road called “High Street Road”. I used to live on it. The origin of the name is that it’s the road that leads to High Street, which it eventually joins.

  29. Trogluddite said,

    April 12, 2019 @ 6:33 am

    @J W Brewer
    Your mention of 'Front Street' immediately set me thinking – in old Victorian street layouts with back-to-back houses here in Northern England, it's common for the 'back streets' to be explicitly named. Indeed, a quick Google search turned up a couple of Back Front Streets.

  30. Victor Mair said,

    April 12, 2019 @ 7:07 am

    From Juha Janhunen:

    FInnish katu is a mediaeval borrowing from Swedish *[gatu], from which modern Swedish gets [ga:tta]. The original short vowel is preserved in Finnish.

  31. Robert Coren said,

    April 12, 2019 @ 9:54 am

    @Deborah Pickett: Just yesterday I was driving around somewhere south of Boston and twice needed to use a street called "Turnpike Road".

  32. Chas Belov said,

    April 12, 2019 @ 11:15 am

    Odd, in Google maps, I tried looking up Old Old Highway 11. It did find it, but on the way, the predictive list behaved strangely. It was offering Old Old Highway 99 (which turns out to be a point in Oregon nowhere near any roads and thus suspicious) and a single Old something else, but not Old Old Highway 11.

    I had to type old old high before Old Old Highway 11 popped up.

  33. Terry Hunt said,

    April 12, 2019 @ 1:49 pm

    Further to ÄntC: in Southampton, Hampshire, much of whose mediaeval walls still exist – notable gaps are courtesy of the Luftwaffe – there is a Bargate Street adjacent to the surviving north gatehouse called The Bargate. There are also Westgate Street and Eastgate Street whose eponymous gates survive intact and ruined respectively.

    (The other four gates were York Gate (now fragmentary) on the north side adjacent to The Bargate, Friary Gate (surviving) on the east side well south of East Gate, Water Gate (ruined) on the south side and Castle Watergate (intact) on the west, none of which have current streets named for them).

  34. Andrew M said,

    April 12, 2019 @ 3:12 pm

    While in the North of England and in Scotland 'gate' means 'street', in the South it typically does mean 'gate' – when it appears in street names this is because the streets were adjacent to gates. Terry Hunt's examples from Southampton illustrate this; another example is the City of London, where names like Aldersgate, Bishopsgate etc. mark the sites of ancient gates into the city. (The precise designation of the streets varies; Aldersgate Street and Newgate Street, Ludgate HIll, but simply Bishopsgate.)

  35. Bloix said,

    April 12, 2019 @ 3:28 pm

    Per Anschel's comment, you can see pics of the Altneuschul here –
    When it was built in 1275, it was called the New Synagogue, but after 300 years or so there were some newer synagogues around, so people started calling it the Old-New-Synagogue.

  36. Jen in Edinburgh said,

    April 12, 2019 @ 4:10 pm

    Edinburgh's gates are called ports, although more humble Scots gates are yetts.

    Off the top of my head we only have one street called a gate – or gait – the rest of the medieval town is closes and wynds and a couple of bows. But I expect someone will prove me wrong!

  37. Andrew (not the same one) said,

    April 12, 2019 @ 4:24 pm

    Jen: Two, at least – Canongate and Cowgate. (Though historically Canongate was outside the city.)

  38. Stephen said,

    April 13, 2019 @ 11:00 am

    Perhaps I should mention St Aldate's Church, Oxford, which is believed to represent the Old Gate, canonised.

  39. Smut Clyde said,

    April 14, 2019 @ 3:02 am

    there is a Bargate Street adjacent to the surviving north gatehouse called The Bargate.

    The entrance to the nearest pub is presumably the Bargate Bar Gate.

  40. Narmitaj said,

    April 14, 2019 @ 3:28 pm

    I was driving through Priddy (in Somerset, atop the Mendips near Cheddar Gorge) on Friday and passed a pub that used to be called the New Inn and has been closed for some time but seems to be planning to reopen this year under the name The Old New Inn.


    I don't know how long the actual New Inn was operational… Priddy is quite old and has had an annual Sheep Fair since 1348, which had had to relocate from nearby Wells due to the Black Death. But I gather it stopped in 2014. No doubt the sheep herders &c used to like a drink in the old old days, so someone must have sold it to them.

  41. TIC said,

    April 22, 2019 @ 7:22 am

    Depending on which origin theory of the name of what's now Newport News (Virginia, USA) one leans toward, it might or might fit the general pattern…

  42. stephen said,

    April 24, 2019 @ 7:44 pm

    Is anybody seeing this? Did I wait too long? I just wanted to say that I wished to see a movie starring Paul Newman, Gary Oldman and Henny Youngman.

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