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Many of us have been spelling Thorp Street in the City of Batavia wrong for years

By Howard B. Owens


For years, we've all been getting it wrong.  We've been misspelling the name of Thorp Street.

Until today, The Batavian never published a story that didn't spell the name of the Southside street between Watson and Maple, parallel Evans, as "Thorpe," with an unnecessary "e" on the tail.

It's not just us -- Google, Apple, scores of real estate-related sites, and even the Batavia Daily News, have been spelling it "Thorpe" for who knows how long.

That spelling may be traced to a mistake by a now-long-retired and unknown city worker who made a street sign for the roadway and for some unknown reason added that pesky "e."

City Manager Rachael Tabelski said she checked with Ray Tourt, superintendent of the Bureau of Maintenance, who said some years ago a city crew made a routine sign replacement while other roadway maintenance was being performed on Thorp and this apparently is when the spelling was misspelled for, perhaps, the first time.

Tourt said he isn't sure how the crew came up with "Thorpe Street."  Perhaps spell-check offered the alternative spelling.

The mistake was recently discovered and the street signs were corrected.

That doesn't change the archives of The Batavian, nor the Batavia Daily News.  In the case of The Batavian, there's no indication we've ever spelled it "Thorp" and the Daily News has one instance of "Thorp" we could find in a search of its website, which returned 95 articles from the past decade.

Records indicate the street was dedicated in 1894 as "Thorp Street." 

Before that, it was known as "Thorp's Alley."

County Historian Michael Eula said that county records indicate that local landowner David Thorp opened the alley, which ran in a southern direction from the New York Central Railroad to the former Hill Street.

City Historian Larry Barnes said in the city's Official List of the Streets" from 1912, and another from 1920, list the street as "Thorp." 

County Clerk Michael Cianfrini said a search of land records from the 19th Century produced several landowners in the area who spelled their name "Thorp" but none who spelled their name "Thorpe."

County Planning Director  Felipe Oltramari said the county's 911 database spells it "Thorp" as well, which means it is also "Thorp" in the state database. 

The County's tax records site contains the correct spelling, "Thorp," but search Google and pretty much everybody spells it "Thorpe."

"Google has it wrong as Thorpe probably because their latest StreetView imagery (Sept. 2017) shows the old street signs that say Thorpe," Oltramari said. "I submitted a request to Google, Apple, and MapQuest to change it to Thorp but may be rejected until new StreetView imagery can confirm it."

The Batavian discovered the mistake when local real estate broker Lynn Bezon placed an ad for a property at 1 Thorp that is for sale.  We wanted to correct the spelling. She corrected us.


Photo: Screenshot from Google StreetView showing the old "Thorp" street sign misspelled "Thorpe."

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