History of Burlingame Street Names

Raziel Ungar

Raziel Ungar

April 14th, 2020 - 16 min read
Cumberland Road watercolor by Dale Perkins. The street I grew up on.

Having grown up in Burlingame, and then when I became a Realtor in my early 20s, I was always curious how all the streets of Burlingame got their names. In 2015, I engaged a local writer and San Mateo County history buff to spend hours at the Burlingame Public Library researching how each street got its name, and occasionally inquiring with the Burlingame Historical Society during that time. A few weeks ago, while reviewing blog posts and other material we've created, I realized we had not yet posted this to our blog. So, I hope you enjoy it!

The Burlingame Historical Society released a similar effort a few years ago. Check out theirs too as it has a lot of great information as well. To my knowledge, ours was written earlier, but the Historical Society may well have been working on theirs for a while too, even before we started. Either way, lots of fascinating information in both!

Lastly, the New York Times wrote a fascinating article in 2015 called The Secrets of Street Names and Home Values.

ADELINE DRIVE: This street is named for Adeline Mills Easton, sister of Darius O. Mills, bride of Ansel Ives Easton (founder of the town of Easton, later annexed by Burlingame) and mother of Burlingame pioneer Ansel Mills Easton. Married to Easton the elder in 1857, the young couple was shipwrecked during their honeymoon. Adeline thought her new husband was lost for good, but they were later reunited.

ALPINE AVENUE: Interestingly, this small street, part of the 1904 Villa Park subdivision, was called 1st Avenue prior to 1928, may have taken name from a pair of former residents – sort of. According to a 1985 account by resident Dick Thompson, the street is named for John and Fred Alpen, who lived at what is now 833 Alpine Avenue for many decades. Their family name was altered to become “Alpine.” The Villa Park subdivision has several other streets whose names were changed from the bland (2nd, 3rd and 4th Avenue, etc.) to the evocative (Laurel, Maple, etc.) suggests this story may not be true.

ANSEL ROAD: Though it is located south of the original town of Easton, this one-block downtown street is named after Easton’s founder, Ansel Easton.

ARC WAY: First reference to this one-block, curved street comes in the March 1, 1913 Burlingame Advance. “Ordinance #57 names Arc Way,” the paper said. In August of that year, the Advance followed up by referring to construction on Arc Way, calling it “The Circle.”

ARMSBY DRIVE: This small residential Hillsborough street may have been named after either of a pair of prominent early society members, Gordon and Raymond Armsby.

BALBOA AVENUE: Milton Ray, prominent San Franciscan, son of the founder of the Ray Oil Burner Company and builder of his namesake development Ray Park in Burlingame, was fascinated by two things: birds and great explorers. When it came time to name Ray Park’s streets, he opted for explorers. Balboa Avenue is named after Vasco Nunez de Balboa.

BARRIOLHET AVENUE: Better known as a Hillsborough Address, Barriolhet also runs through Burlingame. The street first opened in the mid-1850s. At the time, it was known as the Crystal Springs Road. Four decades later, the road was renamed – sort of – for one of its residents. Apparently, San Francisco banker Henri Barriolhet whose estate was on the street, deserved the honor even though his name was difficult to pronounce. Pragmatic city leaders opted for “Barriolhet” (pronounced “Barry-o-lay”) to avoid confusion.

THE BAYSHORE: Most locals use the shorthand “101” when referring to the north-south freeway that bisects Burlingame’s eastern quadrant, but the road’s official name, “Bayshore,” has been in place since the late 1800s. Back then, the “Bay Shore route” was a two-lane road that in 1904-07 ran parallel to a Southern Pacific railroad line bearing the same name. When the road became a highway, similar in function to El Camino Real but far more dangerous, due to its optimistic 55 mile per hour speed limit, in the early 1930s, “Bay Shore” was shortened to “Bayshore” – the “real” (but underused) moniker of the freeway most of Bayshore became in 1947.

BAYSWATER AVENUE: Though it lay several blocks from San Francisco Bay today, Bayswater Avenue was likely named for its original proximity to the water, before the shoreline mudflats were filled in. The street’s center median was once lined with Canary Island Palm trees, added (along with some on Peninsula Avenue) in the early days of Burlingame subdivision. The trees were removed – actually set on fire and destroyed – in 1964, 40 years after the palms on Peninsula Avenue met their demise.

BLOOMFIELD ROAD: Once the site of a nursery owned by the McLellan family, this street, which travels through Burlingables and Lyon-Hoag, is assumed to have been inspired by the McClellan’s acres of blooming flowers.

BROADWAY: Originally the road leading to Ansel Easton’s Black Hawk Ranch, Broadway eventually became the main commercial street of Easton, the town named after Ansel Easton that was eventually annexed by Burlingame. Before it was Broadway, the street had other names: Lamphier Lane (after Charles Lamphier, caretaker of Easton’s stables) and Buri Buri (after the Buri Buri Rancho). The latter handle, however, didn’t sit well with residents. On August 19, 1912, the Burlingame Advance reported that the Burlingame Women’s Club Civic Section planned to ask the city to change the name of Buri Buri because it “was like (the disease) beri-beri,” suggesting the generic-sounding “Elm Avenue” as an alternative.

BROMFIELD ROAD: This residential street, which runs mostly through Hillsborough, is named after Davenport Bromfield, a civil engineer employed by William H. Howard in 1888 to lay out a subdivision known as the Western Addition to the City of San Mateo. Bromfield’s work, which included a subdivision of Howard’s estate now known as Highland Park, laid the foundation for the present city of Burlingame. He eventually had a hand in platting most of the important tracts and subdivisions on the Peninsula, from Daly City to Menlo Park.

BURLINGAME AVENUE: Anson Burlingame was a diplomat and friend of William Ralston, perhaps the most significant early landowner in the region. Though Burlingame only visited what became San Mateo County once, Ralston promoted the Burlingame name. His “Burlingame Dairy,” was located on the “Burlingame Rancho.”Between 1866 and 1904, there were several attempts to gain a foothold for a town called “Burlingame.” Save for the establishment of a railroad station, post office and country club bearing the Burlingame name, an actual town didn’t exist until the end of that period. The name “Burlingame Avenue” for the road running west from the train station first appeared in William H. Howard’s 1896 subdivision for The Town of Burlingame. Prior to that, Burlingame Avenue had been known variously as Corbitt Lane, Donnelly Lane and MacMonagle Lane.

CABRILLO AVENUE: Another of Milton Ray’s Ray Park “explorer” streets, Cabrillo is assumed to have been named after Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo (1499-1543), the first European explorer to navigate the coast of what became California.

CADILLAC WAY: In 1966, auto dealer John L. Rector, owner of Rector Cadillac, successfully lobbied the Burlingame City Council (demonstrating the growing influence of auto dealers on the city) to change the name of Industrial Way, a street located off of Carolan Avenue near Broadway – and the new site of Rector’s Cadillac dealership, formerly located at 1021 Burlingame Avenue – to “Cadillac Lane.” While the city was receptive to Rector’s plan, it did feel that no 40-foot-wide street should be called a “lane;” hence, “Cadillac Way,” a name that took on an ironic tone years later, when “Rector Cadillac” became “Rector Porsche/Audi.”

CALIFORNIA DRIVE: Until 1925, the road now called “California Drive” was known as “San Mateo Drive.” The name change, we can only presume, came from an effort to separate Burlingame from its larger (and older) neighbor to the south. “San Mateo Avenue” is now a small frontage road running parallel to California Drive for about a block north of Oak Grove Avenue.

CAPUCHINO AVENUE: The origins of Capuchino Avenue in Burlingame are not clear. The street may have been inspired by Millbrae’s Capuchino Drive and Capuchino High School, both on land that was once part of the Rancho del Capuchino, owned by Janos Szabo in the 1850s. It may also have been named in tribute to the mistaken notion that California’s missions had been founded by Capuchin, rather than Franciscan, missionaries. Finally, and perhaps most likely, given that Burlingame is sometimes called “The City of Trees,” Capuchino Avenue, which travels north-south between Burlingame Gate and Burlingame Terrace, crossing the Broadway commercial strip on its way, may simply be named after the Capuchin cypress tree.

CAROLAN AVENUE: The convenient, traffic-avoiding street running north-south along the east side of the Caltrain tracks between Broadway and Burlingame Avenue shares its name (almost) with one of the last of Hillsborough’s grand estates. “Carolands,” a 98-room mansion completed in 1914, was built by Francis J. Carolan and his wife, Harriet, heir to the Pullman railroad car fortune. Carolan Avenue, while not nearly as grand nor intriguing as Carolands, was also named after the Carolans. Before building Carolands, Carolan purchased 172 acres of land from William Corbitt. On it he built “Crossways,” a 30-room home located at Willow and Sharon Avenues (now Hillsborough). The street originally stopped between Oak Grove and Toyon Avenues. In 1966, a four-lane extension between those streets was completed, to the dismay of at least 200 protesting neighborhood residents. Several homes in the original Villa Park subdivision (dating to 1904) were razed to make way for the new road, while others found that what had previously been open space leading up to the railroad tracks had now become a well-traveled street.

CHAPIN AVENUE/CHAPIN LANE: The origins of the “Chapin” part of Chapin Avenue and Chapin Lane are unclear. According to the Burlingame Historical Society, “although the surname ‘Chapin’ can be seen off and on in Burlingame into the mid-20th century, it is unclear what early role the family played.” There is no official act marking the cut-off between Chapin “Avenue” and “Lane,” though on November 15, 1915, city trustees attempted to split Chapin into “West” and “East” Chapin, with the change happening at the intersection of Chapin and Ralson Avenues. The circa-1905 home at 1427 Chapin Avenue (once 1421 Chapin) that has been incorporated into the Burlingame Garden Center is of some historic significance. Built by English bricklayer George Farrell, it was the first “clinker brick house” built on the Peninsula.

CONCORD WAY: Located in Oak Grove Manor (also known as Burlingables), a subdivision built on land once owned by William Corbitt, the origins of Concord Way are not known; however, it is one of several neighborhood streets whose names are borrowed from New England cities. Concord, Massachusetts, was the site of the first battle of the American Revolution. When Paul Revere shouted “The British are coming!” it was to Concord that they were headed.

CORBITT ROAD: Scotsman William Corbitt, a wealthy coffee merchant and horse breeder, might be a bit miffed were he to learn his name only rates a humble, one-block residential lane in modern-day Burlingame. Corbett was one of the town’s first full-time residents. He purchased 440 acres of land there in the early 1870s, building a successful horse breeding farm – the famed San Mateo Stock Farm produced several champion trotters -- where Burlingame High School now sits..

CRYSTAL SPRINGS: Now a monicker shared by two roads, a two-lake reservoir and a golf course, “Crystal Springs” was originally the name of a resort hotel and the surrounding small town that grew up around it. The Crystal Springs Resort was built in 1855, across the lake from the present location of the San Mateo Creek dam. Crystal Springs Road was an access road, built between 1859 and 1860, leading to the resort. Named “Laguna Grande” in 1769 by the Portola Expedition, the original lake became “Upper Crystal Springs Lake” in 1877, anticipating the creation of two lakes by the Spring Valley Water Company – and the destruction of the Crystal Springs hotel, resort and town.

CORTEZ AVENUE: Another Milton Ray creation, Cortez Avenue is presumed to have been named after Hernan Cortes de Monroy y Pizarro, a 15th and 16th-century explorer known chiefly for leading the expedition that eventually led to the downfall of the Aztecs, bringing large swaths of Mexico under Spanish rule.

DAVIS DRIVE/DAVIS COURT: Though it cannot be confirmed, it is possible that this pair of streets was named after Burlingame City Attorney John Davis, who authored a number of unusual laws during the city’s early days. In 1916, Davis wrote a law restricting residents to ownership of no more than two dogs – unless all neighbors living within 350 feet consented to more. Davis also pushed to limit the number of chickens any one person could own to 25. He was, apparently, an advocate of a neat and tidy city.

DONNELLY AVENUE: John Donnelly, a carpenter, came to California from Minnesota in the 1870s. Upon his arrival, he paid William Corbitt $2,500 for a 4.5-acre tract of land located near Burlingame’s eventual downtown. In 1876, Donnelly built a home near the corner of present-day Burlingame and Primrose Avenues. During World War I, as Burlingame Avenue became more of a commercial center, Donnelly’s home, along with many others, was moved to the small, likely private service road running through his property, which then became known as “Donnelly Avenue.” His home, thought to be the oldest in Burlingame, remained at 1260 Donnelly Avenue until 1964, when it was razed. A parking lot now sits at that address.

DRAKE AVENUE: Another Ray Park explorer street, Drake Avenue is named for Sir Francis Drake, nautical hero to the British and scourge of the Spanish Armada. Between 1577 and 1580, Drake (1540-1596) led the second circumnavigation of the globe.

DWIGHT ROAD: Origins of this residential street, stretching though Lyon-Hoag from Burlingame’s southern border to Rollins Road, are unclear. The most likely explanation is that is was named after William Howard’s wife, Anna Dwight Whiting, as Howard was the landowner whose 1896 subdivision created an early blueprint for Burlingame.

EAST LANE: One short block connecting Howard and Burlingame Avenues, just east of the Caltrain station and a leg of the original Burlingame Square, East Lane was originally drawn into William Howard’s 1896 subdivision, then “fixed” in 1912 when Ordinance 40 created not only “East,” but also “North” and “South” (ironically, located west of East Lane) Lanes, all within a block of each other. “West” Lane appears on early maps but was not covered by Ordinance 40.

EASTON DRIVE: One of many reminders that Burlingame’s northern reaches were once a separate town named after landowner Ansel Ives Easton, Easton Drive runs east-west, directly uphill through what was once Easton’s Black Hawk Ranch and is now a very desirable neighborhood named, like Easton Drive, after Easton himself.

EL CAMINO REAL: Prior to the 20th century, the mostly unpaved road running between San Jose and San Francisco was known by the pragmatic (if unimaginative) name “Old County Road.” A California Federation of Women’s Clubs campaign designed to commemorate the road’s origins as part of “the old Mission trail” officially changed it to El Camino Real in 1906. In 1913, the road was paved, some 60 years after it replaced the old “stage road.”

GUITTARD ROAD: Only one block long, this dead-end industrial street leads from Rollins Road to the Guittard Chocolate Company. Founded in San Francisco by Etienne Guittard in 1868, the company relocated to Burlingame’s Millsdale Industrial Park in 1955. Guittard supplies 95 percent of all chocolate used in See’s Candies.

HATCH LANE (HATCH ALLEY, HATCH WAY): This little street, officially called “Hatch Lane” but known variously as “Hatch Alley” and “Hatch Way,” is named after Henry Hatch, an early Burlingame businessman and builder. Born in Half Moon Bay, Hatch was a former Sheriff of San Mateo County who by 1913 had built at least five of the earliest commercial buildings in Burlingame Square (the original downtown Burlingame, centered around Burlingame Avenue and the train station). Hatch’s second “Hatch Building” (made of concrete, it replaced the circa-1910 wooden Hatch Building in 1929) still stands at 1101 Burlingame Avenue.

HILLSIDE DRIVE: The road leading up into Burlingame’s western hills is surely named after its topography. From 1913 to 1918, Hillside Drive was traversed by a team of electric streetcars financed by Ansel Easton in an attempt to make more attractive the home sites he had for sale. The cars carried 26 passengers but were so underpowered that they seldom made the trip to Hillside Circle (where they would turn around to begin their descent) without bogging down, forcing passengers to walk. In 1918, the trolley line was replaced by a more powerful and reliable – though decidedly less romantic – Studebaker bus.

HOWARD AVENUE: Named for William H. Howard, son of William Davis Merry Howard and original owner of much of what became Burlingame. Howard first subdivided his land, which stretched from Sanchez Creek (near today’s Sanchez Avenue) to the present site of Mills-Peninsula Hospital and from the bay to the site of Highway 280, in 1896, creating The Town of Burlingame – and a template for future Burlingame development. Howard was also a founder of the Burlingame Country Club.

HUMBOLDT STREET: This road, which runs for several blocks, passing though downtown and past San Mateo High School in San Mateo, terminates at Victoria Park in Burlingame’s Lyon-Hoag. The street was first called, simply, “H Street,” likely referring to the Howard Estate, on which the road was originally laid.

LAUREL AVENUE: The original street names of the 1904 Villa Park subdivision (now part of Burlingame Gardens) lacked color. So it was the 3rd Avenue became Laurel Avenu, two blocks running north-south between Oak Grove and Morrell, with a westward jog at Park Avenue.

LEXINGTON WAY: Lexington Way is another Oak Grove Manor street whose name is borrowed from New England cities. Lexington, of course, is the Massachusetts city most famous for being the site of the “shot heard ‘round the world,” the opening salvo of the American Revolutionary War.

LINCOLN AVENUE: The “original” Burlingame Avenue was a four-block residential street located one block north of Broadway in the town of Easton. Easton was annexed by Burlingame, in 1910, creating an awkward situation: Burlingame already had a “Burlingame Avenue,” one far more important to the nascent city’s identity. Easton’s “Burlingame” would have to go, and it did, adopting the name “Lincoln,” probably after the 16th U.S. President.

LINDEN AVENUE: Another Villa Park residential street, four-block Linden, which jogs several times during its journey from Oak Grove Avenue to Toyon Drive, was once blandly called “2nd Avenue” before switching to Linden.

LORTON AVENUE: Perpendicular to Burlingame Avenue and the heart of Burlingame’s downtown shopping district, Lorton Avenue has in recent years begun amassing an impressive inventory of businesses itself – appropriate, since Lorton was once called “Main Street” (south of Burlingame Avenue it was Middlefield Road, likely named for its location, until 1905, in middle of the Polo Field grounds bounded by Howard, Park, Highland and Peninsula{r} Avenues).In 1925, Sam Merk, Editor of the Burlingame Advance newspaper, asked that the city rename the road “Center Street” for reasons now unknown. Instead, City Attorney Judge F.A. Cutler suggested the street be named after Frederick D. Lorton, a real estate broker and early Burlingame booster. Lorton, Cutler pointed out in the January 7, 1925 Advance, “built the city’s first Class A business building at the corner of Middlefield (later Lorton) and Burlingame Avenue.” Present-day Burlingame residents stopping at the Burlingame Avenue Starbuck’s may notice the words “Main Street” on the sidewalk outside; a campaign by the Burlingame Historical Society saved the original imprint in the 1970s.

MANGINI WAY: Burlingame High School students may realize that the half-circle road leading from Carolan Avenue to their school was named after Victor “Vic” Mangini, four-time Mayor of Burlingame, but do they know that Mangini won 18 league titles coaching Burlingame High School teams, or that his football teams defeated San Mateo in the Little Big Game 11 times? Mangini, newly returned from a World War II stint in the U.S. Air Force, joined the school as an assistant football coach, history teacher and head track coach in 1945. He retired as Assistant Principal in 1980 and passed away in 2007, taking with him the unofficial title of “Mr. Burlingame.”

MAPLE AVENUE: Still another Villa Park street, originally named 4th Avenue, that later received a more palatable name. One-block Maple runs parallel to Laurel (nee 3rd Avenue) and Linden (once 2nd Avenue), between Park and Morrell Avenues.

MORRELL AVENUE: C.H. Morrell was a San Francisco resident, charter member of the San Francisco Yacht Club and early automobile operator (included in the San Francisco Public Library’s San Francisco History Collection is a permit, issued by the Office of Park Commissioners in 1905, granting C.H. Morrell, at a cost of two dollars, a license to operate a motor vehicle) who also owned a large tract of land in Burlingame. In 1906, Morrell subdivided his land, creating Burlingame Grove. Morrell Avenue, a four-block residential street, travels east-west through Burlingame Grove, linking Rollins Road and Carolan Avenue.

MOSELEY ROAD: This Hillsborough street is named after T.I. Moseley, without whom the Carolands mansion would still sit amid 554 untouched acres. Moseley purchased the estate from original owner Harriett Pullman Carolan in 1945 then set about subdividing the home’s grounds. Along the way, he named several newly-created streets after family members: Barbara, Denise, Robin, Robinwood, Darrell, Craig, Alberta.

MURCHISON DRIVE: That there is a major residential street in both Burlingame and Millbrae named after Clint Murchison is almost surreal. Murchison, the son of a prominent Texas oilman, is known for many things – owning the Dallas Cowboys among them – but his participation in the growth of Millbrae is almost an asterisk in a life filled with Texas-sized accomplishments. During the 1950s, Murchison was the money man behind Paul Trousdale’s purchase, subdivision and development of the original Darius Mills estate. Their partnership produced a high-end suburban development named Mills Estates.

NEWHALL ROAD: Only a few blocks long, this Hillsborough street honors one of the great land-owning families of California. The descendents of Henry Mayo Newhall had, at one time, some 150,000 acres of Southern California land under their ownership, even though the family itself was based in San Francisco. The family’s Southern California holdings eventually became planned communities Valencia and Newhall Ranch. In the latter half of the 19th century, Henry Newhall’s son George Almer Newhall (1863-1929) purchased a large chunk of what would become Hillsborough. His 1914 mansion, known as “La Dolphine,” still stands on Manor Drive.

NEWLANDS AVENUE: Francis Newlands, developer of the Burlingame Park “planned community “(through which his namesake street travels), was an early evangelist for the region that later became Burlingame and Hillsborough. It was Newlands who hired architect A. Page Brown to design five “summer cottages, hoping to draw wealthy San Franciscans to the area and then, in 1893, founded the Burlingame Country Club for the same purpose.Newlands was the son-in-law of William Sharon, business partner of William Ralston, who purchased the financially damaged Ralston’s vast land holdings at a great discount in 1875, willing them to his daughter (and Newlands) upon his death, in 1885. Newlands was also instrumental in the development of Chevy Chase, Maryland, and served as a U.S. Representative and Senator for the state of Nevada.Newlands’ original plans for Burlingame Park were ambitious, even for their time. He employed legendary landscaper John McLaren, promising potential buyers a “colony of summer homes with tree-lined roads, lawn tennis courts, croquet grounds and polo fields,” with the Burlingame Country Club as its centerpiece. The original plan was to create a 750-acre suburb; only 16 acres were actually developed.

NORTH LANE: A segment of the original “Burlingame Square” (East, West and South Lanes are the other borders), “North Lane” was officially named by Ordinance 40 on June 3, 1912. Like South Lane, North Lane was not indicated in William Howard’s 1896 subdivision.

OAK GROVE AVENUE: The Burlingame train station was built in 1894; for some 30 years before that, the strain stopped at the Oak Grove railroad station, presumably named after the one of the residence of John H. Redington, whose son, attorney Arthur Redington, was a driving force behind the 1912 incorporation of Hillsborough. Oak Grove Avenue led from Redington’s home (which later the private Oak Grove School) to the station, where Redington would flag down passing trains on days he had business in San Francisco.

OCCIDENTAL AVENUE: Occidental Avenue runs diagonally from Bellevue Avenue in Burlingame through Burlingame Park and Hillsborough before ending at West Poplar Avenue in San Mateo Park. This land was the property of William Sharon, then passed to his son-in-law, Francis Newlands, upon Sharon’s 1885 passing. Newlands created an entity to manage the subdivision of his land, calling it the “Occidental Land Company.” A portion of Sharon/Newlands’ property became Burlingame Park and the Burlingame Country Club.

PALOMA AVENUE: While the origins of the “Paloma” part of Paloma Avenue are unkown, we do know that the street was extended into Burlingame Terrace in 1928-29, replacing two-block-long Grange Road, perhaps to avoid confusion. Prior to 1928, Paloma ran between Mills Avenue and Edgehill Drive, spanning the north-south borders of Burlingame Grove. It now ends at Oak Grove Avenue.

PARK AVENUE: Part of the 1905 Villa Park subdivision (and before that part of the William Corbitt estate), Park Avenue somehow dodged having its name changed to “Villa Avenue” in 1915 as part of City ordinance 104, an effort to ease confusion between street names in Burlingame and recently-annexed Easton. Residents of downtown’s Park Road likely wish this were not so, as the non-switch has allowed confusion to continue into the present.

PARK ROAD: An “original” Burlingame street (Park Road appears on the earliest maps of the Town of Burlingame subdivision), this mixed residential/commercial street was likely named for the open space that surrounded it until the U.S. Post Office was built in the early 1940s.

PENINSULA/PENINSULAR AVENUE: Burlingame and San Mateo’s Peninsula Avenue is not named after the popular slang for San Mateo County. In fact, the busy border street, which appears as “Coyote Avenue” on an 1894 map, was known as “Peninsular” Avenue until the 1940s. It wasn’t officially changed to “Peninsula,” at least in San Mateo until 1966. By then, the Burlingame side had called itself Peninsula for several years.

RALSTON AVENUE: Like at least four other streets in the Bay Area, Burlingame/Hillsborough’s Ralston Avenue is named after Bank of California founder and Comstock Lode tycoon William Chapman Ralston. Once one of the richest and most powerful men in California, Ralston lost most of his wealth in the aftermath of the Panic of 1873. It is unclear whether his 1875 death was accidental or self-incurred. After his death, much of his holdings were purchased at a deep discount by former business partner William Sharon.

RAY DRIVE/ RAY COURT/ RAY PARK: In 2007, Ray Oil Burner Company executive Milton S. Ray’s former Pacific Heights (San Francisco) Roaring 20s-era mansion was listed for sale at an asking price of $55 million. It is still on the market, now asking $34 million after several price reductions, and is considered one of the finest homes in the city. During the 1940s, however, the San Franciscan’s attention lay further south. On December 19, 1940, the Burlingame Advance-Star reported that the city had approved Ray’s plans to subdivide and develop 114 acres of land, part of the former Dairus Mills estate located west of El Camino Real, annexed to Burlingame. From this emerged the Ray Park neighborhood. Ray was a poet and ornithologist and history enthusiast who named many of the streets in his new subdivision after famous explorers (Cortez, Coronado, etc.), perhaps picking up his interest in exploration as a child; after all, his father had founded the Ray Oil Burner Company in 1872 primarily to service the boilers of clipper ships. For the main residential lane running east-west up the spine of Ray Park, however, Milton Ray simply chose his own name, calling it “Ray Drive.”

RHINETTE AVENUE: Rhinette was the wife of landowner/Burlingame Grove developer C.H. Morrell, who also named a nearby street after himself. Though Morrell Avenue is four blocks long, to honor his wife Morrell chose the one block connecting Laguna Avenue and California Drive. Streets adjacent to Rhinette Avenue are called Juanita, Summer and Marquita Avenues, suggesting that Morrell was using other relatives, possibly his children, as inspiration for other street names.

ROLLINS ROAD: The origins of this hard-working road connecting Broadway and Millbrae Avenue are unclear. However, it’s possible the name comes from an early Burlingame resident, Newell W. Rollins, whose passing is noted in the January 26, 1912 Burlingame Advance.

SANCHEZ AVENUE: Jose Isidro “Chino” Sanchez was the son of Jose Antonio Sanchez, grantee of the Buri Buri Rancho. When the elder Sanchez died, in 1843, “Chino” inherited 1,500 acres at the rancho’s southern end. Sanchez the younger lived on the land, which stretched from the bay to the present site of Highway 280 between Mills and Sanchez Creeks, for almost two decades. In 1860, he sold his entire plot, including the adobe home he’d built for his family (located near today’s Edgewood Avenue) to Ansel Ives Easton.

SAN MATEO DRIVE/SAN MATEO AVENUE: “San Mateo Drive” was the name of California Drive prior to 1925. “San Mateo Avenue” is a small frontage road running parallel to California Drive for one block north of Oak Grove.

SHARON AVENUE: William Sharon, U.S. Senator from Nevada from 1875 to 1881, was an Ohio native who moved west in 1849, eventually making a fortune in silver mining (a book about Sharon, published in 2009, is titled “The Infamous King of the Comstock”), real estate and banking. Sharon was William Ralston’s business partner, and yet when Ralston’s fortunes turned after the Panic of 1873, he wasted non tim in acquiring Ralston’s assets – including a great deal of the land later to become Hillsborough and Burlingame – at a deep discount. Sharon’s daughter, Clara, eventually married Francis Newlands, who founded the Burlingame Country Club and created Burlingame Park on land inherited from his father-in-law. In 1876, one year after acquiring Ralston’s share of San Mateo County, Sharon drew up a town plat “covering most of the thousand-odd acres (Anson) Burlingame had owned,” but it took more than two decades – and William Howard – for the idea to take hold. Sharon also owned a dairy called the “Palace Hotel Dairy” after the glamorous San Francisco hotel he owned that had once been William Ralston’s unfinished dream project. The dairy was located near the present-day intersection of El Camino Real and Ralston Avenue.

SHERMAN AVENUE: Though the origins of Sherman Avenue are not perfectly clear, the street was likely named for Union Army General William Tecumseh Sherman, not for his Civil War feats (it was under Sherman’s command that Atlanta burned) but for his friendship with the Easton and Mills families. Between 1847 and 1856, Sherman held several military and business posts in and around San Francisco, at one point overseeing the 1854 construction of a bank building at 800 Montgomery Street. Parts of “Sherman’s Bank” still stand. Local legend says that the Easton and Mills children were so impressed with Sherman that they would follow him around during visits, collecting his cigar butts as souvenirs.

SOUTH LANE: The third segment of Burlingame Square, South Lane is not shown on William Howard’s 1896 subdivision maps. It was officially named, like North and East lanes, by Ordinance 40 on June 3, 1912. On June 28, 2007, South Lane was closed at the railroad tracks.

TROUSDALE DRIVE: Though he made his name building homes in his adopted Southern California, Paul Trousdale certainly made his mark on San Mateo County. In 1954, Trousdale and financial partner Clint Murchison completed the first of what would eventually be 200 homes on Burlingame and Millbrae land once owned by Darius Ogden Mills. Mills Estates became Burlingame’s last large-scale subdivision of the 20th century. Between 1946, when he established the Trousdale Construction Company, and his death in 1990, Trousdale built approximately 25,000 homes in California. Perhaps this is why, in addition to Trousdale Drive, which runs east-west through Burlingame’s north end, there is also a Trousdale Parkway (Los Angeles) and a Trousdale Place (Beverly Hills).

VERNON WAY: Vernon Way is one of several Burlingables/Oak Grove Manor streets whose names are borrowed from New England cities. Vernon, Vermont was the site of Fort Bridgeman, destroyed in 1755 during the French and Indian War.

WEST LANE: The fourth edge of Burlingame Square; unlike North and South Lanes but like East Lane, West Lane does appear in William Howard’s 1896 subdivision map. Ironically, West Lane was not included in 1912’s Ordinance 40, which “officially” fixed the names of North, East and South lane.

WILLBOROUGH PLACE/WILLBOROUGH ROAD: Developers George Williams and Frank Burrows’ ambition was to recreate a quaint, English village on the former site of a nursery in Burlingame (between Palm Drive, Oak Grove Avenue and California Drive). Under the name “G. W. Williams Company” they hired an English architect and built 22 five- and six-room homes promised to offer “the largest dollar value ever offered in Burlingame home construction.” A 1931 advertisement for their development, named “Willborough Place,” after a combination of the partners’ last names, offered homes for sale at a Great Depression-friendly price range of $5,950 to $6,500. Williams and Burrows went on to develop two similar (but smaller) projects, Williams Place and Chesterton Place in San Mateo.

WINCHESTER DRIVE: Famed (and infamous) widow Sarah Winchester didn’t just build a House of Mystery in San Jose; she also owned a double-floored houseboat, modeled after Noah’s Ark, in Burlingame, at the end of what is now Winchester Avenue. The craft sat on a man-made island surrounded by a canal on the Bay marsh, in the vicinity of the present-day Anza Drive Highway 101 onramp. The boat was accessible via a footbridge imported from Asia. There, aboard her yacht (there were several houseboats in the bay mudflats at that time), Winchester awaited “the flood.” The flood never came and Winchester’s ark burned in 1929.

VANCOUVER AVENUE: Another of Milton Ray’s Ray Park “explorer” streets, this one was named after Captain George Vancouver (1757-1798), best known for his expedition through the Pacific Northwest. Between 1791 and 1795, Vancouver sailed through what would later become Oregon, Washington, British Columbia and Alaska. However, as impressive as it may be to have Milton Ray name a residential street after you, the honor pales in comparison to the two cities (Vancouver, British Columbia and Vancouver, Washington) and mountain (Mount Vancouver, on the Alaska/Yukon border) also named for Vancouver.

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