Difference between Street and Avenue

Updated on March 9, 2017

We all have that one friend who loves to correct us, even when we wrongfully call a street an avenue or the other way around. While most of the times we assume that the people we are talking to will know what we mean, there are times when we risk confusing our interlocutor. Here is why we should stand corrected. And yes, even by our annoying friend.

Definitions

Street

A street represents a paved way taking you from one place to another in a built environment. It is usually considered public property and access is not restricted. Normally, a street can have walkways and different types of constructions on either or both sides. Streets often run perpendicular to avenues.

Also, while it is typically a paved way, there is also the case of a street being a leveled patch of dirt. It can also be cobbled, concrete, or brick. Streets can be made for pedestrian traffic, for vehicles, or for both types of traffic.

avenue
Champs Elysees Avenue in Paris

An avenue is a wide and straight paved way, with lines of trees and buildings running along it on either side. A fine example of an avenue is the Paris Champs Elysees. Usually, an avenue is considered an important street in a city and it connects some important points of interest and institutions.

Street vs Avenue

So what is the difference between street and avenue?

Although many people still use them interchangeably, streets and avenues were thought up as different ways of defining the traffic in an area. Therefore, streets tend to be smaller straight roads that are perpendicular to avenues.

While both of them may have trees lining their sides, only the avenue has that by definition. Also, an avenue is always paved, whereas a street can also be dirt.

We naturally assume that avenues are wider and more important than streets as they connect more important points of interest in a city. This is why recent real estate moves included calling any type of road an avenue so that the price of an estate can be artificially raised.

There is also the issue of traffic. When a street is very small, it can be restricted to car traffic. Other times, it can be meant for pedestrians and cars. If by definition an avenue is wider, it will mainly be destined for mixed traffic.

Comparison Chart

StreetAvenue
A straight path connecting two points of interest in a built environmentA straight and wider path connecting two points of interest in a built environment
It is usually paved; it can also be dirtIt is always paved
It can have lines of trees on the sidesIt must have lines of trees on the sides
Compared to an avenue, it is considered a secondary roadCompared to a street, it is considered a primary road
Can be solely for cars or pedestrians or for both pedestrians and carsUsually is for both pedestrians and cars