Street Names: Where Else Is Your Street?

All German street names in a single search – find the most interesting patterns

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Authors and Contributors

Kai Biermann, Paul Blickle, Astrid Geisler, Flavio Gortana, Tom Lazar, Dr. Andreas Loos, Fabian Mohr, Karsten Polke-Majeweski, Julian Stahnke, Alexa Steinbrück, Sascha Venohr and Andreas Zeidler

Methods and Sources

Streets and squares are an archive of both language and history. We suspected that their names would reveal patterns, and we wanted to make them visible. Doing such a thing is impossible using conventional map tools because none of them will show you all of the streets and squares of the same name at the same time.

The foundation of our tool is OpenStreetMap, a map wiki where volunteers collect information on all streets around the world. Using that information, the Karlsruhe-based service provider Geofabrik created a dataset for us including all streets and squares in Germany (updated and current as of March 4, 2019). It includes the respective street names, the postal codes and communities through which the streets lead, and the precise geometry of the route taken by the street. Geofabrik also combined multiple data points from OpenStreetMap to create a single, coherent data object accurately reflecting the street's geometry.

Using this data, ZEIT ONLINE programmed a searchable database. By doing so, we discovered some fascinating patterns in the distribution of the 450,000 street names. They tell the story of almost forgotten artists and historical events, they shed light on obsolete economic structures and trade routes, on dialects and on idioms imported from abroad. The most common street names in Germany are: Hauptstrasse (Main Street), Schulstrasse (School Street), Dorfstrasse (Village Street), Gartenstrasse (Garden Street) and Bahnhofstrasse (Station Street).

For those wishing to perform a comprehensive analysis, we have made the underlying dataset available at no cost, under the user license ODbL 1.0. You can download the data here in GeoJSON format (206 MB)..

Given the amount of map details that are gathered by OpenStreetMap, errors are unavoidable. In addition to spelling mistakes or even missing streets, there may also be instances in which OpenStreetMap employees have inadvertently classified hiking paths as official streets, for example. Should you find a mistake, you can report it to OpenStreetMap or correct it yourself. oder korrigieren.

Data & maps Geofabrik GmbH and Mitwirkende | Data: ODbL 1.0