Reno Rd. NW

Reno Road Almost Renamed Washington Avenue

A little-known story about upper northwest is that Reno Road, which cuts right through the heart of North Cleveland Park to Chevy Chase, was almost renamed Washington Avenue, in honor of the west coast state.

An article in The Washington Post from July 24th, 1959 mentioned the proposal and opposition from a single senator, Howard Cannon of Nevada.

Sen. Howard W. Cannon (D-Nev.) said yesterday he is not taking lightly the move to change the name of Reno rd. nw. to that of the Johnny-come-lately state of Washington.

The suggestion for the change came from Francis E. Healy, District surveyor. Washington and California are the only two states without a major avenue in their honor in the District.

Cannon wrote to Commissioner Robert E. McLaughlin yesterday that Reno rd. and Reno, Nev. were named after one of “the most distinguished soldiers ever to serve the United States.”

He was Gen. Jesse L. Reno, a Union officer who was killed at the battle of South Mountain, Md., in 1862. Not only that, Cannon wrote, but the late Sen. Francis G. Newlands of Nevada–Reno to be exact–was instrumental in the development of an exclusive area of the District.

To make matters worse, Cannon said, “Reno–Nevada, that is–was a city long before Washington was a state.”

He ran into technical difficulties on this point because Reno was not incorporated as a city until 1899, 10 years after Washington was admitted to the Union. This doesn’t matter, an aide to Cannon said, because Reno was a bustling city in 1868. And besides, he said, there are several Nevada cities that are not incorporated.

Well, we know what happened–or didn’t happen. It remained Reno Rd. NW and Washington Ave. ended up in southwest.

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