What’s the Difference Between a Street, Road, and Avenue?

What's the Difference Between a Street, Road, and Avenue?

Streets, roads, avenues. These words get used interchangeably by many, but are they really the same? It turns out, these terms, and many other roadway classifications, can actually be quite different. So, what is the difference between a street, road, and avenue?

What’s the Difference Between a Street, Road, and Avenue?

What Is a Street?

For the most part, the actual title of a roadway does not mean much. However, the designation word at the end does. In other words, when something is called Downey Street instead of Downey Avenue, it actually matters.

In the case of streets, they can be any public road that has buildings on either side of it. Simple enough, right?

What Is a Road?

Calling something a road is an umbrella term for any type of roadway that you are able to drive on. Any path that connects two points together is classified as a road. If you need to look for something that ends in the word road, then you will, unfortunately, have to consider nearly every type of driveable path you come across.

What Is an Avenue?

Avenues are more or less the same as streets, with the exception that they tend to be slightly longer and often run perpendicular to streets.

While most major cities have avenues today, the term has also traditionally been used to refer to a road with a line of trees or shrubs running along the sides.

Other Roadway Classifications

What's the Difference Between a Street, Road, and Avenue?

Road, street, and avenue are not the only types of classification that a roadway can have. There are many other terms that may be attached to it, which also indicate something very specific about the qualities of the path.


A boulevard is something similar to a street or avenue, but is often wider and will have multi-lanes on one or both sides. Boulevards are some of the busiest roads in communities and therefore, usually have some of the nicest aesthetic qualities to them.

Way, Lane, and Place

Way can be used interchangeably with road and has no distinction whatsoever. Lane and place, conversely, indicate a difference in the size of a roadway. Lanes are often found in more suburban areas and are narrower than most roads. Places indicate a roadway that is very short or in the shape of a square.

Drive and Driveway

Despite what some drivers tend to think, drives and driveways are not the same. While a drive refers to a winding roadway that is often very long, a driveway is something that is much shorter and leads only to a private building.

Court and Plaza

A court is a street that is short and ends with a dead-end. They are usually accompanied by a circle and most often found in cul-de-sacs. A plaza is almost the opposite of a court since it is a wide open area that is encircled with streets and often surrounded by big important buildings.

Terrace and Crescent

Terraces and crescents both involve curves but in different ways. A terrace is a short and narrow road that travels along the top or side of a slope. A crescent is a curved street that branches off from the main road and then reconnects with it again.

Esplanade, Promenade, and Turnpike

Esplanade and promenade are terms that mean the same thing and involve a roadway that travels along the edge of a body of water. If you are hoping to avoid paying tolls then you will want to stay away from turnpikes. These are roadways where a fee is charged to cross.

Freeway and Interstate

Freeways and interstates are both types of highways that have different purposes to them. Freeways are meant to contain vehicles travelling at high speeds, whereas interstates are designed to connect major sections of the country together.

Parkway and Causeway

Parkways and causeways involve the nature element of a roadway. Parkways involve highways that contain greenery or parkland on both sides of the road. Causeways are roadways that travel over top of water areas.

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