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Volume 14, Number 4April 1963

In This Issue

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Famous Streets Of The Middle East

They may be entirely different, but "main" streets everywhere have a great deal in common.

Whebe in the world is a city that doesn't have its "main" street? Whether village or metropolis, wherever mankind had settled down and built cities, one street comes to be better known than any other. Sometimes "main" street is lined with shops crammed with delights for tourists and townspeople; sometimes it's the center of nightlife. It may be narrow and thronged with scurrying humanity, or it may be a stately, tree-lined boulevard. Whatever its physical characteristics, it's the street that travelers always visit, the street that gets its picture snapped most often.

Of course, the larger the city, the more likely it is that several streets qualify for the distinction of being "main" streets. There are some who would say that New York's Fifth Avenue has several rivals, or that the Champs Elysees is not really the reigning heart of Paris. Maybe, but mention those street names, and the cities in which they are found immediately spring to mind.

How do "main" streets get their names? Examples of famous streets tend to prove that there's really no system. The Champs Elysees translates as "Elysian Fields," a peaceful vale for after-life. Berlin's Unter der Linden Strasse literally tells the story of a stroll under the street's linden trees. In Madrid handsome Avenida Jose Antonio takes its name from a dashing Spanish hero, but New York's Fifth Avenue is nothing more than a very ordinary numeral that's taken on elegance.

These streets are Familiar to almost every Western ear, even to people who are confirmed stay-at-homes. But other areas of the world, such as the Middle East, have their "main" streets too, named like their Western counterparts for national heroes, or a physical property, or for reasons long lost in the centuries gone by. These streets are just as familiar to Middle Easterners as Fifth Avenue and the Champs Elysees are to Westerners. Many of these "main" streets are very old indeed, for it was in this area of the world that man built his first communities and thereby created city streets that were more than the rough pathways of a rural world. But many of the famous "main" streets of the Middle East have a decidedly modern touch, though below twentieth-century concrete and macadam may rest stones over which the city's commerce passed thousands of years ago.

Our picture tour presents but a few of the many "main" streets so well known to Middle Easterners and all those who have journeyed to that part of the world.

This article appeared on pages 14-17 of the April 1963 print edition of Saudi Aramco World.


Check the Public Affairs Digital Image Archive for April 1963 images.