Hickory street signs confusing to residents, visitors

Hickory street signs confusing to residents, visitors

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by TONY BURBECK / NewsChannel 36

Bio | Email | Follow: @TonyWCNC

TONY BURBECK / NewsChannel 36

Posted on February 11, 2011 at 4:28 PM

HICKORY, N.C. -- Welcome to Hickory, a city where avenues aren't just avenues. They're also drives and places. And streets aren't just streets. They're also are drives, courts, lanes and places.

And to some folks, they're just plain confusing.

Brian O'Connell moved here six months ago.

"I still can't get around very well," he said.

He manages Table 220 Fusion Grill in the heart of the city, Union Square.

"Fourth Street Drive becomes Fourth Street Southwest," O'Connell said, reading directions to his restaurant printed on a flyer. "That's two streets that actually turn into different streets. It's really only three turns, but it changes roads almost four times."

O'Connell says, at times, even a GPS is confusing.

"There's about 17 Sixth Streets or avenues, so you really have to look through it," he said.

O'Connell isn't the only one getting lost. Josh Hood has lived in the town of Hickory for two years and in the area his whole life. He's more confident, but says he still gets lost.

"Too many to count to be honest with you," Hood said. "You have to drive around and purposely get lost to figure out where you are going."

That's what Hood says he did.

"I had to find Main Avenue and ended up on Main Avenue Drive," he said.

Public Services Director Chuck Hansen likes the layout.

"Delivery drivers really like it," Hansen said.

Hansen says it's not that hard to figure out with some homework and knowing what to look for.

The city says there are three key pieces of information you need to give or get when getting around town or helping someone else do the same. First is the house number. Second is the street name or number. Third is the quadrant, like the "SW" identifying the part of town you're in.

"SW" on the signs means the southwest part of town.

"From there is your fifth grade math, plotting an x-y axis," Hansen said. "From that you can make it to where you need to get to."

Hickory went to quadrants in 1951, dividing the city into northeast, northwest, southeast and southwest.

Other navigation helpers:

  • Center Street is Hickory's east-west dividing line.
  • The railroad track is the north-south dividing line.
  • All avenues run east and west.
  • All streets run north and south.


"It's one of those things that makes Hickory unique," Hansen said.

The city of Hickory is working on putting way-finding signs around town. Officials say the plan is in place, but money in the budget for it isn't.

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