By Andy Pouncey, May 11, 2006
I was asked to prepare a map for a party at our house last week. To guide people on Poplar going east to Kimbrough Road, I could have said “the 11th stoplight from I-240, or the second stoplight east of Germantown Road, or for the coffee drinkers the third stoplight from ‘Starbucks’ on Poplar, west of Germantown Road. That was easy.
But what if I lived north or south of Germantown and the assignment was to help a guest negotiate Germantown Road. That is not easy.
The latest version of “Germantown Road For Dummies” begins with definitions. Let’s first identify the various segments of this road. Germantown Parkway lies north of the Wolf River Bridge (outside of the municipal boundaries) so we will remove it from the equation.
South Germantown Road (not Germantown Road South) lies between the bridge and Poplar Avenue. Continuing south, Germantown Road lies south of Poplar Avenue extending to Arthur Road at the Presbyterian Church.
Farmington Boulevard runs perpendicular and east of Germantown Road at the Municipal Center. West Farmington Boulevard runs perpendicular and west of Germantown Road at the Municipal Center, curving southward to Poplar Avenue.
West Farmington Boulevard becomes West Street on the south side of Poplar moving south to the Southern Railroad and to the southernmost Poplar Pike at the Presbyterian Church (as opposed to the Poplar Pike that parallels the railroad). South of the intersection at the Presbyterian Church we are on Germantown Road once again.
And for the sake of those purists, before 1985 Germantown Road did run east and west, just south of the Presbyterian Church (predating the current sanctuary and education facilities) and connecting Arthur Road to Germantown Road.
Whoa…..Let’s back up and not complicate things any further. If you were not confused before you read this, you probably are now.
Armed with a common driving vocabulary and the knowledge that Germantown Road is State Highway 177, let’s help that guest go north to south through the city.
Using street names, I would say, “go south from the Wolf River on South Germantown Road to West Farmington to Poplar to West to Germantown Road.”
And please don’t use a bank as a landmark. Every time you make that drive, you are likely to find a new bank or an old one with a new name. And nicknames have been birthed that indicate the site’s former use, like the “Burger Bank” and the “Gas Bank”.
What I appreciate is that if you get lost, there is always plenty to eat and drink along the way, so stopping for instructions does have its benefits: Bittersweet, Firehouse Subs, McDonald’s, American Pizza Café, Yias Yias, Three Oaks, The Commissary, Wendy’s, Backyard Burger and The American Café.
You may ask what did people do before there was Farmington, West Farmington, or West Street? Well, it was simply much easier. You came south through the City to the Presbyterian Church and west on Germantown Road (adjacent to and south of the Chapel), before going south again on present-day Germantown Road. In those days Poplar Pike didn’t exist between Germantown Road and West Street between the Methodist and Presbyterian churches.
Let’s add one more point of clarification or confusion. Poplar Pike running parallel to the railroad used to continue eastward from West Street to Germantown Road. This stretch of roadway beside the Depot was known as 1st Street but was discontinued in 1986 with the development of Depot Park. Every 1st Street must have a 2nd Street, and until two years ago, 2nd Street connected Germantown Road and West Street just south of Three Oaks Grill. The tribute to its existence remains in the right front window of The Commissary.
Photo of Poplar Pike going beside the Depot
So, why don’t we just say ….“go south from the Wolf River, and right at the second Walgreens, follow the curve to the fountain, crossing over Poplar and then the railroad track.” Your fuzz buster will have beeped twice since you have just passed under both automated enforcement cameras. So much simpler don’t you think?
Good Luck and Good Driving!
Germantown Road South intersecting with Farmington Blvd. to the east (left), and West Farmington Blvd. to the west (right)
Poplar Ave. intersecting with West Farmington to the north (left) and West Street to the south (right)
Poplar Pike intersecting with Germantown Rd. to the north (left) and Arthur Road to the south (right)