Streetscapes2018, ZEIT ONLINE
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. That is why ZEIT ONLINE programmed a searchable database including all German streets and squares. 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. Additionally, we identified groups of streets with thematically linked terms like the names of poets or types of animals. Beyond that, for example, we searched for all the possible endings to a street name, like Limes Road, Limes Way, Limes Alley or Limes Lane for discernible name components like -limes. All streets with the same root name were then tested to see if there were linked groups of streets on a local level. This enabled us to uncover other patterns.