Top 10 goofiest avenue and street names in South Philly

By Joseph Myers
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 11 | Posted Jun. 15, 2012

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Photo by Greg Bezanis

If Little Red Riding Hood could visit the area, she might say “My, South Philadelphia, what a great history you have!” Yes, my fellow residents, we inhabit an interesting stretch with immense pride and fortitude. We are, however, not short on oddities. I have compiled what I deem our neighborhood’s strangest avenue and street names, with background for a few and attempts at humor for all.

1. Moyamensing Avenue

I became aware of this one while a student at St. John Neumann High School. Not as interested in etymologies as I am now, I could not have cared less about the origin of the name. Learning two years ago that it comes from the Lenape term for “pigeon droppings,” I wish I had stayed ignorant.

2. Passyunk Avenue

Another Lenape offering, Passyunk translates as “in the valley.” Much more pleasant than “pigeon droppings,” it has inspired a few debates on its pronunciation, and though I am open to accepting counterpoints to most topics, never ever expect for me to make this word three syllables!

3. Weccacoe Avenue

A third Lenape gift, this one translates as “peaceful place.” Situated near the Delaware River, it sounds apt for every time of year except for the Christmas season, when shoppers at adjacent stores curse their fate while dealing with long lines.

4. Hemberger Street

I do not eat meat, so I do not hanker for any cow when I hear this one; however, could someone order me some French fries?

5. Warnock Street

This one makes my list only because it sounds like “warlock,” and I would love to put spells on certain people to pay me back borrowed money. Guilty conscience, anyone?

6. Iseminger Street

Iseminger is a real humdinger in the name department. Another one that can be a pronunciation nightmare, it makes me want to use it in a poem, if only to rhyme it with “linger” or “singer.”

7. Sydenham Street

Sharing its name with an area and electoral ward in the London Borough of Lewisham, this one can have someone sounding very American if the last syllable is pronounced like the pig product or ultra English if someone utters the entire word much like “synonym.” Try the latter!

8. Titan Street

The Greek mythology fan in me loves this one; my humble side leads to speculation on the namer’s modesty.

9. Mole Street

Birthmarks are fine by me, so I am not deeming this one goofy because it conjures thoughts of blemishes. Instead, it merits placement because the mammal version creeps me out!

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Comments 1 - 11 of 11
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1. LARRY ISEMINGER said... on Nov 3, 2012 at 09:44AM

“Moyamensing, Passyunk and Mole seem like pretty strange names for Streets in Philadelphia. Iseminger on the other hand seems perfectly normal.”

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2. Maureen Fratantoni said... on Jul 18, 2013 at 11:39PM

“I wish I didn't know what Moyamensing meant. Now I will never look at it the same. Now Passyunk's meaning is good.”

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3. Ira Weinstein said... on Aug 7, 2013 at 07:45AM

“Just saw an old map of Philly where Weccacoe Ave was spelled Wiccacoa.
(Historic Mapworks dot com)

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4. Silvia said... on Nov 4, 2013 at 01:43PM

“I grew up on Mole, Now live on Moyamensing and Go out to eat regularly on Passyunk! I have relatives on Hemberger, Iseminger and So nothing is weird to me!”

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5. Sonny said... on Aug 25, 2014 at 08:05AM

“I always wanted to know how Hemberger Street got its name.”

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6. Steve said... on Oct 27, 2014 at 04:20PM

“Fitzwater was Originally Fitzwalter after a Philadelphia Judge but mis spelled the Name and never changed it !”

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7. ck said... on Oct 28, 2014 at 10:51AM

“Does anyone know the origin of Camac? Camac Street?”

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8. ck said... on Oct 28, 2014 at 10:54AM

“Does anyone know the origins of Camac? as in Camac Street, right near Iseminger?”

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9. David said... on Oct 29, 2014 at 04:15PM

“@CK: "This bit of street took the name “Camac” in 1898 or so because it was in line with Camac Street in North Philadelphia, named after Captain Turner Camocks (various spellings of the name were used), a wealthy Irish copper mine owner who emigrated to Philadelphia in 1804 and was related to the Penn family through marriage."”

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10. Lorraine said... on Nov 1, 2014 at 06:30AM

“My first husband lived in Olney and when I was introduced to one of the streets up there (Nedrk) I call it Merck....I really thought that was the name. And Passyunk does have 3 syllables!”

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11. Roxanne said... on May 16, 2015 at 11:30AM

“First half of my life, I grew up in the very Southeastern part of Philly. I've been blessed to have traveled some within our US. Many times, while trying to sight-see and/or navigate many cities, I find I am mumbling to myself, "Give me a grid, Man! Just give me a dam grid!" South Philly did that to me or for me? lol By the way, I vote that Passyunk is 2 syllables also.”


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