City Cast

What's the Meaning Behind Missing Streets?

Kaela Cote-Stemmermann
Kaela Cote-Stemmermann
Posted on September 28, 2022   |   Updated on June 18
One of my least favorite intersections. (Wally Gobetz/Flickr)

One of my least favorite intersections. (Wally Gobetz/Flickr)

Pierre L’Enfant, the designer of our fair city, named D.C.’s streets by letters (east-west) and numbers (north-south), but a few letters are conspicuously missing. Namely, J St. and everything after W St.

X, Y, and Z’s absence can be explained simply. They weren’t needed. In early D.C., Florida Ave. was named Boundary Street, and it was the limits of the city. W St. was the last street before Boundary Street, so all the rest of the alphabet was void.

Additionally, J St. doesn’t exist because back in the day, the letter J didn’t exist. And, once it did, it looked so much like the letter “I” that people thought a J St. would be confusing.

However, if you want the more juicy (and false) story, rumor has it that L’Enfant so despised John Jay, an American politician and Supreme Court justice, that he slighted him by omitting J St.

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