Does Lincoln Boast the Longest Street in the World?

O Street Begins

Images courtesy Google Maps Street View

I’d like to point your attention to this article where I talked about Yonge Street’s pretty solid claim to being the longest street in the world, despite its diminished length of 56 rather than 1896 kilometres. There were candidates throughout the United States which tried to lay claim to the title “the longest street in the United States”, but all fell short of Yonge Street’s length:

And that’s nothing to sneeze at. Looking around, there’s some dispute as to what the longest street in America is. Many people cite Colfax Avenue in Denver. Running from an intersection with Mt. Vernon Canyon Road through downtown Denver to Aurora Airport, it has an indisputable minimum length of 50.5 km. If you excuse its break at Aurora Airport, then the road runs for an impressive 81.6 kilometers to the town of Strasburg, but that’s still shorter than the broken version of Yonge Street.

Western Avenue in Chicago is cited as another candidate. Running from West Howard Street in Evanston to 147th Street deep in the South Side , it has an indisputable minimum length of 44.25 kilometers, still shorter than Yonge Street (although of all of the candidates, it could well be the most urban). Forgive its break and jog as the Dixie Highway (plus another at West Crete-Monee Road) and this takes Western Avenue to West County Line Road, a trip of 82.4 kilometers, but still shorter than the named portion of Yonge Street.

Remember what I said about what my definition of a “perfect road” is: a street or country road which you can live on (in other words, not a limited access highway), that retains the same name throughout its length, without significant break or jog. If a road loses its name but keeps going without a break, then it is a contender for longest unbroken road. Airport Road has Yonge Street beaten on both counts, as does Dundas Street.

Missouri River

But in my search for other contenders, I stumbled upon a nondescript avenue running east-west through Lincoln, Nebraska. O Street, crossing through the centre of town, has all of the American contenders beat handily, and beats anything I’ve yet seen in Canada.

It doesn’t sound like much, “Oh Street”, but just look at the map. As a perfect road, O Street runs from Union, Nebraska, not far from the Missouri River, straight west through LIncoln, ending at a crossroads south of Utica, a distance of 76.2 miles or 122.6 kilometres. If you add East Union Road on the east and 9th Road on the west, the unbroken road stretches from the banks of the Missouri almost to the banks of the Platte, a distance of 131 miles, or 210 kilometres.

O Street and 27th

A number of other streets in Lincoln stretch almost as far to the east in name. Names like A Street or Van Dorn Road can be seen far from the city which gives them most of their traffic, but only O Street manages to cross the distance without interruption. It helps that it’s a U.S. highway for most of its route (either Hwy 34 or Hwy 6), and it also helps that the road is in the Midwest, with few natural features to obstruct its passage, unlike Yonge Street, or Airport Road or Colfax.

At almost six hours driving time, the ride from one end to the other might be scenic, or it might be boring, depending on whether you like primarily flat, rural scenery. Other than the neighbourhoods of Lincoln, there aren’t many other towns or villages en route

The fact that a street exists that, without anybody’s acknowledgment, demolishes other streets’ claims that they’re the longest street in America or the world, makes me wonder what else is out there. There’s a lot of territory to cover within North America alone. And it is a shame that a bigger search isn’t on for a definitive answer. Perhaps Lincoln could ignite the challenge by laying claim to O Street as its own entry into the record book. And while they’re at it, perhaps they could pick a more distinctive name than O Street.

End of O Street

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