SA street names represent colorful history

Have you ever wondered why there are two roads in San Antonio containing the name Wurzbach?

Were you ever curious what Floyd Curl had to do with the Medical Center? 

Did you know San Antonio had a Can't Stop Street? 

These place names are all part of San Antonio's vast history and give a glimpse into the people who formed what the city is today.

From Cesar Chavez to McCallister Freeway, each street name carries importance.

General McMullen fought in three wars. Culebra, which means "snake" in Spanish, may have been named for its windy path.

Toepperwein is named for the "Famous Toepperweins" -- Adoplh and Elizabeth "Plinky" Toepperwein, once known as the "World's Greatest Sharpshooting Team."

Vast information on street name history is detailed in the book "Place Names of San Antonio," written by David P. Green.

One of the intriguing stories in the book revolves around the confusion of having two roads named Wurzbach: Wurzbach Parkway/Road and Harry Wurzbach Highway. Wurzbach Parkway is named for William Wurzbach, who owned 1,400 acres of land near the medical center in the early 1900s.

"William had a brother named Harry who been a private in the Spanish American War in the Texas Volunteer Army," said Green.

Harry, an advocate for veterans, was set to be honored with his own street name.

"William's family went down (to City Hall) and said, 'No, you shouldn't do that, because it'll be very confusing,'" said Green. "They lost and it was confusing."

San Antonio is also known for its ever-lengthy two-named roads, like Jones-Maltsberger, Binz-Engleman, Vance Jackson, Jackson-Keller, and Perrin Beitel. 

The names represent families who lived on either side or either end of the historic thoroughfares. In some cases, the families even intermarried.

According to Green, there are still some street names that remain a mystery.

"The truth is, I've never really figured out who Bitters was named for," said Green, who has spent countless hours of research on the issue.

Can't Stop Street, a two-block-long street near downtown, remains another mystery, but carries an intriguing name. Green said he often gets queries about the uniquely named street.

Floyd Curl's name is synonymous with the medical center. Curl was a Methodist clergyman who presided over the first meeting of trustees for Methodist Hospital.

"So when Methodist Hospital, which was the first thing in the medical center, was built, there was one street there and they named it for Floyd Curl," said Green.

Perhaps more interesting, Curl gave his son, Robert, a chemistry set when he was nine.  Robert would go on to win the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1996.

The list of fascinating street names continues and Green's book contains many more interesting facts regarding San Antonio's rich history. You can find his book, "Place Names of San Antonio," at local bookstores.

For a list of recent stories Justin Horne has done, click here.

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