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Where street names came from

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To The Editor:

Driving across Ogdensburg the other day, I was amazed that my companion, a very well educated person, had no idea as to the origins of the street names. In particular, we passed Montgomery, Greene, Morris and Knox Streets. Although my knowledge is incomplete, I felt I should make an effort to enlighten my friend and any others who may read this letter as to its unique origins.

The story begins in 1979 when the British, due to the Jay Treaty, finally let go of their grip on Ogdensburg and the vicinity. They had continued their occupation illegally, long after the American Revolution.

The street nearest to Canada was defiantly named for Washington. The next street was named for Ford in honor of Ogdensburg’s most famous developer, Nathan Ford. Ford Avenue in the second ward ran past the Ford mansion on King Street, as did Mansion Avenue, the next street west. Apparently the third ward, State Street to Paterson Street, was developed first, with streets named for Nathan Greene, perhaps the most successful of Washington’s generals.

Lafayette Street was named for the French nobleman, Gilbert du Motier, marquis de Lafayette, a successful general in his early 20s.

Montgomery Street was named for Richard Montgomery, Irish-born general who was killed trying to capture Quebec.

Jay Street was named for John Jay, Washington’s secretary and later a very successful secretary of state.

Morris Street was named for the man who raised a lot of money for the revolutionary cause, Gouverneur Morris.

Gates Street was named for Horatio Gates, hero of Saratoga, later cashiered as a loser.

Franklin Street was named for Benjamin Franklin.

Knox Street was named for Henry Knox, Washington’s chief artillery for whom Fort Knox, Ky., is named.



Apparently the second ward, west side of the Oswegatchie River, was developed later.

Main Street was an extension of Ford Street across the Lake Street Bridge and ran to the city limits.

King Street was probably named for Preston King, who was mentioned as Lincoln’s vice presidential candidate in 1860.

Streets were named for Madison, Monroe, Adams, Harrison and Jefferson. Absent were any streets named for Jackson or Van Buren, Democratic presidents and not popular in the area. Lincoln Avenue and Grant Street were named after the Civil War.

Ironically, only one street, Ogden Street, was named for Samuel Ogden, the original owner of the entire Ogdensburg area, for whom the city is named but who never once visited Ogdensburg.

Starting with Spring Street, named for a free-flowing spring near what is now the Lafayette Street Bridge, neighboring Grove Street was followed by Oak, Pine Spruce, and Cherry streets.

There is much more. If you have additional information I would be glad to hear from you.

Gilbert Ashley

Ogdensburg

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