If you want to have more than just the typical day out, why not plan a trip to Historic Washington and stroll our streets? Sure, everyone is familiar with taking tours, but at Historic Washington, you can learn American and Arkansas history while you walk. All you have to do is look at the street signs.
Did you know the street signs in Washington serve multiple purposes? The first and most obvious is that they give you a sense of direction. But the names also create relevance. Who is going to forget Washington, Franklin or Jay Street? But did you stop and think that they also could offer you strength training in history?
If you see a sign with the name Franklin on it, then it is reasonable to assume that it is a sign with Benjamin Franklin in mind. Everyone is familiar with Benjamin Franklin, but as you walk down Franklin Street, you come across Lawrence. Which Lawrence comes to mind? Who is this Lawrence, and why is there a street named after him? This is another reason for the street signs in Washington. The named streets create a way to educate people about historical figures and raise awareness of their lives and accomplishments. This Lawrence happens to be Captain James Lawrence, a naval hero of the War of 1812.
Keep walking and you will come across Jackson, Hamilton, and Carrol Streets. If you really want to wade into the historical weeds, then try historical figures for the State of Arkansas. Do you recognize names such as Miller, Conway, Morrison, Etter and Gratiot?
Another purpose for the street signs is to remind people of our national identity and community pride. Recognizing and celebrating famous Americans like Washington and Franklin, and state and local officials who positively impacted the community, can help foster a sense of shared history and common values.
So, the next time you come to Washington, do not just use the signs to find your way around town. Instead, seize the opportunity to learn some national and local history, too.