How Naperville Streets Got Their Names

Naperville began as a small settlement with only 11 streets. The settlement’s founder, Joseph Naper, platted the town himself and is credited with naming each of them.

“Generally speaking, he chose some classics. American presidents like Washington and Jefferson, American statesmen like Benjamin Franklin, and then some other politicians who might be forgotten now, but were well known in the 19th century,” said Jennifer Bridge, curator of exhibits and interpretation at Naper Settlement.

Eagle Street added another touch of patriotism to the early settlement.

Other roads have names that once served a purpose, but now seem slightly out of place.

“So, once you get outside of the old downtown, you can see the boundaries of when Naperville was a smaller community,” said Bridge. “For example West Street used to be essentially the western boundary of the town. And now it’s barely the western edge of Downtown Naperville.”

Mill Street and Center Street are more examples of anachronistic avenues. Mill Street used to lead right down to Joseph Naper’s sawmill on the DuPage River. Now, that’s where you’ll find the Naperville Park District offices.

And when Naperville was home to the DuPage County Courthouse, Central Park and Center Street were named, thinking they would become the center of town.

It seems Naperville’s first settlers weren’t thinking about how the city would change down the road.

Naperville News 17’s Casey Krajewski reports.

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