How the Streets in the City of Fort Collins Got Their Names

While many often take the streets they drive on for granted the inquisitive among us may wonder how their names came to be. Wonder no more because today we will shed some light on how some of the more well known streets got their names. 

The first street that often comes to mind is College Avenue. This extension of Highway 287 runs North to South in Fort Collins and is essentially our main street. It probably isn’t hard to guess how College Avenue got its name considering it passed directly by Colorado Agricultural College or what is now known as Colorado State University. Similarly it isn’t hard to figure out where the East to West running Mountain Avenue got its name being one of the first major offshoots from College Avenue in Old Town and into the storied West.

Many of the streets in the Old Town Area that run East to West were named after trees. Take for instance Pine, Maple, Oak, Olive and Locust streets. This is in juxtaposition to North to South running streets which were named after historical Fort Collins residents. 

Another street worth mentioning is that of Elizabeth. At first glance this seems like a fairly pedestrian name, and in other cities you might well expect that a developer would choose to name the street after a significant person in their life. Yet this is not the case in Fort Collins. Elizabeth is named after Elizabeth “Auntie” Stone, a historical figure here in town who is best known for building the first permanent dwelling in Fort Collins.

Laporte in French roughly translates to “gateway” and as french trappers were some of the first non indigenous settlers to the area, and named several other things (Cache La Poudre anyone?). The trappers viewed the Fort Collins area as a gateway to the Rocky Mountains hence the street name Laporte which runs from East to West and into the foothills. Some also say this name was a tribute to the former Camp Collins which moved from the Laporte Area to Fort Collins after a flood in 1864.

Finally two fun facts. Did you know the longest street name in Fort Collins is Montezuma Fuller, which happens to be little more than an alleyway. Additionally, Larimer County’s “standardization of road naming criteria” prohibits the use of cardinal directions, North, South, East, West etc as street names.