The Street Names of Sani­bel

Re­flect­ing the is­land am­bi­ence

Gulf & Main - - Contents - BY BAR­BARA LINSTROM

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

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