The Street Names of Sanibel
Reflecting the island ambience
With such intriguing names as Pyrula, Singing Wind, Blue Heron and Sea Grape, the streets of Sanibel Island capture the essence and backstory of the selfproclaimed Sanctuary Island.
With about 70 percent of the island’s lands in conservation, it’s no surprise that more than three times as many street names reflect on Sanibel’s natural bounty as are named in honor of humans. With about 260 named streets, more than 140 are named after vegetation, shells, birds and bodies of water.
Names of island flora predominate in such street names as Buttonwood, Mangrove, Strangler Fig and Wax Myrtle, which capture Sanibel’s infatuation with native vegetation. Jim Pickens, a 65-year resident of the island, recalls how Sea Grape Lane was named.
“The Kinzies, who ran the ferry line, owned all the land from about the causeway to the lighthouse when we got here in 1953,” says Pickens. “I remember Ernest Kinzie asking my mom what she wanted to name the street we lived on when they were developing subdivisions, and she said, ‘Sea grape’ because there was a big sea grape there.” Over the years, he recalls his mother making sea grape jelly every year and his dad distilling sea grape wine.
Pickens also remembers that the main thoroughfare, which would later be called Periwinkle, didn’t yet have a name when he arrived. “We just called it the ‘hard road’ because it was the only road on the island that wasn’t a shell road,” he says. “But there’s a story about a county commissioner who was out on the island and looked over and saw Periwinkles growing there, and that’s how it got its name.”
With about 70 percent of the island’s lands in conservation, it’s no surprise that more than three times as many street names reflect on Sanibel’s natural bounty as are named in honor of humans.
Dr Blue Heron