Whether they’re known for prime people watching or retail therapy, there are some streets in the world that are simply destinations in themselves. Which ones have you strolled down?
There are many Broadways all over the world (including several in New York alone), but Manhattan’s is the one that inspired the song, as well as played host to many musicals in its heyday. Dating back to the settlement of New Amsterdam at the tip of modern day Manhattan, Broadway is the oldest north-south street in the city, and cuts through the grid creating squares (Union Square, Madison Square, Herald Square, Times Square, etc.) wherever it crosses an avenue.
When Louis XIV called for this lengthy stretch of fields west of the Tuileries Gardens to be developed into a proper tree-lined avenue, he couldn’t have known how tony its modern iteration would eventually become. Officially named the Champs-Élysées in the early 18th century, this long and wide avenue was quickly embraced as ground zero for wealthy merchandising. And its proximity to the Grand and Petit Palais and the Arc de Triomphe has secured its place as the most popular parade route in Paris.
PACIFIC COAST HIGHWAY
Otherwise known as California State Route 1, this 655-mile highway isn’t the fastest way to get from one end of California to the other, but it’s hands-down the most beautiful. Initially constructed to connect the gorgeously rugged Big Sur region of central California to the rest of the state, the highway opened in the late 1930s and has been the vehicle for iconic west coast road trips ever since.
This pedestrian-friendly stretch of the Big Easy has an apt reputation as the city’s booziest, thanks to its late-night bars, burlesques and bead-wearing Mardi Gras partiers. But Bourbon Street is actually an English translation of Calle de Borbon, christened by the Spanish back in the 18th century, and renamed along with other landmarks in the city following the Louisiana Purchase.
Michigan Avenue and its subset, the Magnificent Mile, begin where the city curves east into Lake Michigan, carving out Chicago’s busiest shopping corridor. Running parallel with the lake, the street continues south and—after hopping a bridge over the Chicago River—serves as the primary entry point to the city’s front yard: Millennium Park.
Commonly (and incorrectly) referred to as Las Ramblas, this central Barcelona street connects the city’s famed Christopher Columbus monument with Placa de Catalunya. Hard to believe La Rambla is less than a mile long, but its lush, tree-lined and café-laden pedestrian zone is arguably the most popular stretch for people watching in the city, if not the country.
There are many famous streets in the City of Angels, but this is the one sprinkled with the stars: approximately 2,500 of them, sunken into the sidewalk in homage to famous entertainers of note. Introduced as a way to immortalize film stars back in the late 1950s, the stars are now lined up along Hollywood Boulevard between La Brea Avenue and stretch all the way to Vine Street, following it south to Sunset Boulevard.
As a metonym, Wall Street is the symbol of the American financial sector. But the physical street was put into place long ago, and quite literally: the present day Wall Street marks the spot in lower Manhattan where the 17th century New Amsterdam’s settlement backed up against a wall. As for its financial roots: the area’s earliest traders used to gather under a buttonwood tree near the alleged wall to do their business. They eventually named their association the Buttonwood Agreement — the earliest iteration of the New York Stock Exchange.
The Beatles popularized this north London road with the release of the eponymous album in 1969. Its jacket famously features the four Brits crossing Abbey road from EMI Studios (now named Abbey Road Studios, after the album), where they spent the better part of the 1960s recording their music. The street, known for little else, continues to attract the attention of Beatles devotees wishing to reenact the iconic album cover photograph by crossing the street.
In a city known for its incredibly steep hills, this so-called “crookedest” street in the world was designed with eight hairpin turns as a way to break the hill’s steep slope. Built in the 1920s, the solution was to lessen its drastic grade by gradually steering traffic—and pedestrians—down a series of turns. Believe it or not, it’s drivable (at 5 mph), and flowerbeds trellised up its hill make it one of the most photogenic streets in the city.