Street Renaming Controversy Not New

Recently, there’s been a move afoot to rename Maryland Avenue at the University of Missouri to Tiger Avenue.

Reports indicate some controversy about the proposal. Research on the historic significance of Maryland Avenue even reached back to an October 23, 1912 article in the University Missourian newspaper, with the help of the Western Historic Manuscript Collection.

But such divided opinions on renaming streets isn’t new. In 1957, work was being done on Third Street. What? Can’t find Third Street in Columbia? That’s because today it is Providence Road.

Nor is it the first time people sought to rename a street to up the recognition of the University of Missouri.

In 1957, there was a move to change the name of Third Street to Caniff Road. Caniff? What? Why Caniff?

In the 1940s, Milton Caniff was the creator of the then famous Steve Canyon comic strip, according to “A Boone County Album,” published in 1971.

Caniff visited Columbia and incorporated a character Miss Mizzou into his syndicated strip. Much hoopla occurred during the years, with a model being chosen to represent Miss Mizzou. She was Miss Bek Stiner then of the chorus of the Coppacabana Night Club in New York City. (Unusual spelling of first names, apparently, isn’t new either.)

Then in 1952, Miss Stiner appeared at half-time at the Missouri homecoming football game, according to “A Boone County Album.” In 1957, the book relates, “A group of businessmen felt that since Mr. Caniff had been so kind and had given the University of Missouri so much good publicity, he should be remembered by renaming Third Street, Caniff Road.”

However, then as now, opinion was divided. Letters to the editor, radio spots and editorials took sides, with people weighing in from all over the world.

“Actual battle was avoided when the City Council selected ‘Providence Road’ for the new name,” the book continues. Finally, a private developer did name a few streets with a nod to Milton Caniff, Steve Canyon and Miss Mizzou by naming streets Caniff Circle, Canyon Drive and Mizzou Place, according to “A Boone County Album.”

Something to think about the next time you are driving down Third Street — I mean Providence Road.

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