In Poland, there's an ulica, an Aleja (capitalised) - an Aleja has to be broad, straight, multi-laned and reprezentacyjna, a Plac (also capitalised) - which is a Square or a Place - and that's your lot. The latter two are relatively rare; 95% of streets in Poland are ulice and that's that.
But then in Poland you get naming conventions that are alien to Britain. Alien, for instance, is the practice of naming streets after dates of historical significance. To a Brit, this smacks of banana republics where streets are named after the date of The Revolution. Poland has fewer of these than it used to in communist days (gone are all the Aleje 22 lipca), but there's still many Ulice 3 maja - 1 maja even. As well as oddball ones - ul. 29 listopada (29th of November Street). And Warsaw still has an ul. 17 stycznia ( 17 January Street - the date the city was 'liberated' by the Red Army).
Far more Polish streets are named after famous people than in Britain. It tends to grate on the British sensibility to come across a 'Councillor Reg Sprott Avenue' (it smacks of lefty-ism rather than a commemoration of a life of service). Poles are happier to accept streets named after people, including - I would argue - far more foreigners than the insular British would deign to name their streets after. Warsaw has four streets named after Indians, for example - two Gandhis, Nehru and Tagore. Categories of people that British streets are named after tend to be great poets, writers, artists, long-dead generals and admirals, generic royalty (King Street, Queen Street, Princes Street).
Genitives and Adjectival forms
Another thing about Polish street names is that they take the genitive (possessive) form of the noun, or they are in the form of an adjective. So it's ul. Dembińskiego (literally, Dembinski's Street, or the street of Dembinski), not ul. Dembiński. Adjectival forms - ul. Słoneczna, sunny street, are the other form. As a result (genitive noun or adjective), very nearly all Polish street names end in the letters a, i, o, y. Rarer plural forms will end in -ych or -ów. Exceptions prove the rule - ul. Wylot, ul. Przeskok, ul. Widok, ul. Giewont, ul. Solec, ul. Foksal - these are older names, in their non-genitive, non-adjectival form, they are rare.
|A Street Name From Old Desire|
Victorian Britain, when most of the nation's urbanisation occurred, liked to name its streets after Victoria and Albert, but also after 19th Century battles. So Waterloo, Trafalgar, Balaclava and Sevastopol. The Empire provided names for many British streets - Adelaide, Melbourne, Bloemfontein, Jamaica, Singapore.
There is a new practice in Poland of going full-on Polnische Romantizmus - ul. Spełnionych Marzeń (yes! - literally a 'Dreams Come True Street'); ul. Malinowy Gaj (Raspberry Grove), Pachnącej Wiśni (Smelling Cherry), Kwitnących Kwiatów (Flowering Flowers) etc etc. Check out Baszkówka, an exurb south of Warsaw. Another one of my favourites is ul. Posag 7 Pań ('Dowry of Seven Maidens Street'). At last, the developers and estate agents have got their hands on the instruments of street-naming. Gone are those streets whose names put off prospective buyers; ul. Bagno (lit. Bog Street), ul. Asfaltowa - the newer the street, the more poetic and less prosaic the name.
Common in both countries are streets named after trees - Dębowa, Bukowa, Topolowa (pronounced 'Topple Over'); Yew Tree Lane, Old Oak Common, Elm Street, The Firs. And just like Acacia Avenue is the stereotypical English suburban street name, so are Akacjowa, Bukszpanowa, or Polnych Kwiatów.
Roads that point to somewhere - or not
Here's a subtle one; the use of the definite article 'the' in front of the road name, as in 'the Uxbridge Road'. No Londoner would say "My office is on Uxbridge Road." They'd say "My office is on the Uxbridge Road". But then writing the address on an envelope, you'd write, for example, 255 Uxbridge Road, Hanwell, not 255 The Uxbridge Road, Hanwell. If a 'Road' is prefixed by a definite article, something only locals would know, it suggests that the road goes there. The Great West Road, the Old Kent Road, for example, go west and to Kent respectively.
We have this in Poland too; ul. Puławska heads south out of Warsaw, and go far enough in its general direction and you'll get to Puławy. Likewise ul. Raszyńska heads out towards Raszyn, and ul. Radzymińska towards Radzymin. But you need some local knowledge to know which streets behave this way - ul. Rzymska does not lead (or even point) towards Rome, nor Brzeska towards Brześć nad Bugiem.
Out Jeziorki way we have Musical Names given to streets that were developed after the war, named after dances, songs or instrument(alist)s (Puzonistów, Drumli, Baletowa); on the other side of ul. Puławska are Bird Names (Pelikanów, Tukanów, Kuropatwy).
My final note is about translating the word 'ulica' into English when used in an address. DON'T. Leave the address in Polish as it is. To translate ul. Chopina 39 as 39 Chopina Street is just WRONG. I know lots of people do it; they are all WRONG. You don't translate Rue St Michel as St Michel Road, nor do you translate Bahnhofstrasse as Bahnhof Street. So leave ul. Chopina just like that - or (and this is probably the cause of this mistake) - because ulica is always abbreviated in Polish to 'ul.', it can seem a little unfamiliar in English, so my advice if you're doing literary translation is to spell it out in full - ulica Chopina.
This time five years ago:
A glorious month
This time six years ago:
This time seven years ago:
My home-made fixie bike
This time eight years ago: