There are three streets here in North Minneapolis that are named for no one, and that is what makes them special! Our forefathers did a wonderful job of picking out names of prominent people for most of the streets. I wonder if they were all in agreement or if they had different choices?
But when it came to three certain streets, to keep them in alphabetical order, they hit a snag! They could not think of any names that were fitting. So what does one do then — make something up? Well they couldn’t do that!
The first street they had a problem with was the “Q” street. They could only think of Q for Queen. But which Queen should it be? Queen Elizabeth or Queen Ann? It would certainly sound funny if one said they lived on Queen Ann! So they left it at just plain Queen Avenue.
The next two letters that were causing problems were X and Y. These were the proper letters of succession in the alphabet, but they could not come up with any prominent people with that letter in their last names. So they just picked out the names York and Xerxes.
Years ago I came across a Hennepin County History Magazine (Fall, 1959) which had a funny fictional story about the naming of Xerxes and York. Here is their imaginative interpretation:
Xerxes was named for Billy Bob Xerxes, famous monster truck driver and home town hero. He holds a world record for squashing 110 flaming Ford Pintos in his truck “The X Guy.” Unfortunately he was fatally wounded and his truck was reduced to a smoldering pile of fiberglass trying for number 111.
When it came to York, they said York Avenue was named for Cornelius Dork. Dork was a Civil War hero who later went on to found “The Department of Needless Studies” at the University of Minnesota. He had a long and distinguished career as a political and fashion adviser to many politicians throughout the country. To honor his life the City wanted to name a street after him, but the hand wringing types at city hall had a problem with “Dork” Avenue, so they changed the first letter to the unused letter “Y”– and the rest is history. Of course, this was a bold-faced lie. The name has no real significance, it’s just a word that starts with Y.
Note: Taken from the Hennepin County History Magazine, Fall, 1959.