I’ll never forget the first time I saw my last name gracing a street sign.
I was in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, shuffling down the Mid-Atlantic beach town's bustling boardwalk, when I saw it poking up from behind a sand dune: Hickman Street. Obviously, it was one of those drop-everything-and-mug-for-a-quickly-disseminated-to-social-media-photo moments. And even though I have no familial relationship with Rehoboth Beach or the state of Delaware (which, as it turns out, is a veritable bonanza of Hickman place names), I felt a sense of ownership, pride. I felt at home.
The only thing that would have made my discovery of Hickman Street even better was if it had intersected with my first name. Alas, my parents didn’t bestow me with the name “Country Club,” “King Charles” or “Route 18” so I was out of luck.
But thanks to the delightful new website Crossing, I’ve discovered there is indeed a place where “Hickman” intersects with “Matthew.” It's not in Delaware, but just south of New Albany, the seat of Union County in rural northeast Mississippi. It's here that Hickman Drive meets Matthew Street, a very short road with a very large house at the end of it.
Although I won’t be traveling to Union County, Mississippi, in the foreseeable future for a photo op beneath my full name, Crossing could prove to be a helpful tool when planning future summer road trips — or just killing time with a fun, slightly self-absorbed diversion.
Just plug in a name and go
Conceived by Jason Feifer, editor-in-chief of Entrepreneur magazine, Crossing is simple to use.
Plug in any name — or two names, if seeking out a special intersection — and the site pulls up a list of results along with the location plotted on Google Maps. (There’s also the option to view the intersection on Google Street View, where available). As Jacob Brogan reports for Slate, site developer Jeremy Merrill generated Crossing’s extensive database of street names using U.S. Census information. “From there,” Brogan explains, "he created a sort of sublist of intersections. It’s this list that the system examines when a user searches Crossing.”
For example, when I enter “Matthew” and “Hickman” individually, Crossing lists dozens of results for each. When I combine my first name and my surname, the site pulls up a map displaying my eponymous intersection in Union County, Mississippi.
Of course, you can do a lot more with Crossing than hunt down places — if any — where your first and last names magically meet.
Try entering quirky or naughty word combinations or, better yet, the names of siblings, parents, favorite celebrities, famous fictional duos or a partner or spouse.
As it turns out, tracking down an intersection where a street bearing his name crosses a street bearing his wife’s name is what inspired Feifer to create Crossing in the first place.
“My wife's name is Jennifer, and whenever we go to visit her parents in the Washington D.C. area, we drive by a road named Jenifer Rd,” Feifer recently told TIME. "The spelling is a little off, sure, but it always made me think: Wouldn't it be fun if this Jenifer Rd. intersected with a road named Jason? Like, we'd be driving around one day and suddenly Jason and Jennifer would be at the intersection of Jason and Jennifer.”
During the two years he spent developing Crossing with Merrill and others, it's no surprise that Feifer discovered that Jason and Jennifer do indeed meet in several locales across the U.S. Naturally, his favorite is the intersection of Lord Jason Drive and Lady Jennifer Drive in Biddeford, Maine.
Do streets with your full name — or streets with the names of you and your sweetie — merrily converge? How about any ridiculously named intersections?