Explanatory signs added to Rīga's street names

Take note – story published 8 years ago

New informative signs will be affixed to many street plaques in Rīga, informing about the name or the past of the street. Usually the explanations will be added to the streets named after famous people in Latvia - such as Rainis, Aspazija, Krišjānis Valdemārs, and others. 

In other cases the informative plaques will be attached in plazas and streets that are named after historical events or organizations. 

One of the places where such an explanatory plaque has been added is the Latvian Riflemen Square by the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia. Latvian Radio asked passersby their opinion, and locals said that even though they hadn't seen the new sign, they thought it's a valuable addition, though descriptions should be added for tourists as well.

The Rīga Municipality got the idea from the largest cities of the world. The first 30 signs were added to plaques last weekend in downtown Rīga, though the municipality told Latvian Radio about plans to add more plaques outside the city center. 

However, the new information will be available only in Latvian as otherwise it'll take up too much space. 

The stories about how streets got their names are often hard to follow. Historian Ingrīda Miklāva says that every street name has its story, but not all of the stories have been passed down to us. "[..] Why is there a Kristapa street, why is there an Annas street? There can be many explanations, [..]" said Miklāva.

Miklāva said that streets are most often named after famous people and famous places, though there's another tradition in Rīga to name streets according to the area.

For example, the left bank of Daugava - often referred to as Pārdaugava - has names related to Zemgale and Kurzeme, the historical regions that are located on the left bank of the river, while the right bank has names related to Latgale and Vidzeme, said the historian.

That's why locals, even if they don't know a certain street, can sometimes tell its approximate location just by the name.

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