Union Squares here & there

SAME name, different stories.

It would be presumptuous to believe that your name is unique. But we all have different stories to tell. Stories behind how names came about, from the extraordinary to the extraordinarily absurd, or hilarious, or to be politically correct, say “interesting.”

Try Xxyyzz Road in the Mojave Desert. Got the chance to encounter it on a road trip from Las Vegas to L.A. Unusual, maybe it means “the end of the road” twice over. I am curious as to how the locals came up with the name, and the names of these places :

Hopeulikit, Georgia

Horneytown, North Carolina

Two Eggs, Florida

and Dickshooter in Idaho.

You can’t believe how long the list is, and it’s just in this country alone.

The John Smiths and Mary Johnsons are teeming in Uncle Sam’s land and filling the telephone directory, so do the names of historic spots. While moving around the big land, it came as to no surprise that I came across a couple of Union Squares, one in San Francisco and the other, in the Big Apple. What’s more interesting is how their names came to be.

The San Francisco Union Square got its name because it was once used for rallies and support for the Union Army during the Civil War while the Union Square in New York City has a bit simpler roots. It celebrates neither the Federal union of the US nor the labor unions, but the union of two principal thoroughfares of the island, Broadway and Fourth Avenue (former Bowery Road), though the square was the site of the 1861 gathering in support of the Union troops.

To honor the square as the first Labor Day parade site, it was name a National Historic Landmark in 1997. But one recent event made this place more significant- 9/11 terrorist attack. The days following the tragic event, the Big Apple’s Union Square became the main gathering point of the mourning public.

If the SF square has the Dewey Monument and Hearts of San Francisco artworks, NYC has the statues of George Washington, the Marquis de Lafayette and Mahatma Gandhi, the Temperance Fountain and the Metronome Building, a kinetic wall sculpture and digital clock expelling bursts of steam.


Both squares are amidst historic and renowned buildings. And to spice up everyone’s tour of the areas, both Union Squares is a shopping destination with popular shops a few steps from them.

Admit it, nothing keeps the Pinoy walking a mile or two (and three or four) unless there is shopping involved. I have the travel agents to back me up on that statement.

So as much as I have enjoyed the sights and sounds of the Union Squares here and there, it’s the glowing neon signs of the nearby shops that got my heart pumping, that, and the thought that I learned something new for the day, two in fact.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on April 28, 2011.

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