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6 Famous American Streets (And What Makes Them So Special)

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Every town has a Broadway or a Main Street. And while some are more exciting than others, they all kind of look the same. Here's a look at six famous American streets, and what makes them so special.

Canal Street, New Orleans, LA

Don't let the name fool you; there isn't actually a canal on Canal Street. However, there were plans to build one when the town was founded, and a huge median was created to accommodate it. After the Louisiana Purchase, animosity between the native Creole population and the Americans was common, and the median in Canal Street served as the neutral ground.

Even though the canal never happened, the street has remained unusually wide over the years and now boasts three lanes of traffic in each direction, plus streetcar and bus lanes running down its center. One of the world's first successful movie theaters, Vitascope Hall, opened on Canal Street in 1896, and two classic movie houses survive today as live performance venues.

Now lined with skyscrapers and storefronts, Canal Street serves as the upriver border to the French Quarter and also the heart of the business district. Following Hurricane Katrina, many of the damaged store fronts on Canal Street were covered with bright graphic panels illustrating the essence of New Orleans, including its food, music and culture.

Delaware Avenue, Buffalo, NY

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Delaware Avenue is known as the "Avenue of the Presidents" because three United States presidents each made a historic mark on the mansion-lined street. Not-so-memorable President Millard Fillmore died there after his term in office. (His final words spoken at his home were "my only regret in death is that the Whig dies with me.")

William McKinley was shot during the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, and he stayed at the John Milburn home on Delaware Avenue while he recovered. Eight days later, however, McKinley died of gangrene in the house. As a result of McKinley's death, Theodore Roosevelt rushed to Buffalo and took his presidential oath of office at the Ansley Wilcox Mansion, owned by a friend and business partner of Grover Cleveland. It was at this house that Roosevelt became the only President to take the presidential oath without placing his hand on a Bible.

Aside from its presidential trivia goldmine, the historic mansion-lined stretch of Delaware Avenue was considered to be the richest street in the nation during the late 19th century. The mansions still stand today, many of them having been turned into businesses or museums. [Image courtesy of VictorianSociety.org.]

Las Vegas Boulevard, Las Vegas, NV

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Most people know this super-famous street simply as "The Strip," but it's actually just a portion of the 37-mile-long State Route 604. The northern end of the road passes through Jean, Nevada, where the last spike of the Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railroad was laid—historic because Las Vegas owes its existence to the railroad.

The road now known as Route 604 has had many names, including 5th Street, the Arrowhead Highway, Los Angeles Highway and Salt Lake Highway. For many years, it was the only major thoroughfare in Vegas. Of course, if you visit this street, you probably aren't going to stop by the railroad spike for a photo. Instead, visit The Strip, four miles of neon signs pointing you to dozens of casinos and attractions, including 18 of the 25 largest hotels in the world and the world's largest gift shop. In case you need another reason to visit, The Strip has been designated a National Scenic By-way.

Fifth Avenue, New York, NY

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It's not just for Saks stores, folks! If you follow Fifth Avenue from its beginning at Washington Square Park to its end at the Harlem River, you will pass many of New York's legendary landmarks: Rockefeller Center, New York Public Library, Central Park, St. Patrick's Cathedral and The Empire State Building. Let's not forget the museums along Museum Mile, which include the Met and the Guggenheim.

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Of course, Fifth Avenue also has a storied legacy as one of the most expensive streets in the world. On its most pricey stretch between 34th Street and 59th Street, you can find dozens of high-end retail stores like Tiffany & Co., Burberry and Chanel, as well as the famous glass cube entrance to the underground flagship Apple Store.

One more Fifth Avenue nugget—many streets in Manhattan are divided into east and west variations using Fifth Avenue as a zero-numbering spot, meaning numbers increase in both directions.

Vermont Street, San Francisco, CA

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Vermont Street in San Francisco has a bit of a dispute with Lombard Street for the title of "the crookedest street in the world." Located in the Protero Hill neighborhood, Vermont Street features a two-block section with seven incredibly sharp turns. Some sources state that Lombard features more turns, but Vermont Street features a steeper slope with sharper turns. While less picturesque than the touristy Lombard Street, any cab driver or native resident in San Francisco will tell you that Vermont is the curvier street. This year it was the new location of the annual Bring Your Own Big Wheel event, which features adults riding the classic children's toy. Fortunately for the riders, the twisted section of Vermont Street is paved with concrete rather than the red brick used on Lombard Street. As for the actual crookedest street in the world, Ripley's lists Snake Alley in Burlington, Iowa. [Image courtesy of San Francisco City Guides.]

Mulholland Drive, Los Angeles, CA

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There are a lot of great views of Los Angeles along its scenic roads, but Mulholland Drive provides some of the most popular. Mulholland Drive follows the Santa Monica Mountains and the Hollywood Hills, offering views of the Hollywood sign, downtown Los Angeles, Burbank and the rest of the San Fernando Valley. Part of the road is unpaved and not accessible by car, making it popular with hikers and mountain bikers, and leads to a decommissioned Project Nike site that has been converted to a Cold War memorial park. Due to its scenic curves, Mulholland Drive is also well-known for street races and car accidents.

The street has been nicknamed "Bad Boy Drive" in honor of its notorious bachelor residents, which have included Jack Nicholson, Warren Beatty and Marlon Brando. In fact, it was at Brando's Mullholland Drive estate that his son Christian Brando committed manslaughter. (The estate was purchased by Jack Nicholson, who tore down the famous house because it was becoming derelict.) And of course, the films Mulholland Drive and Mulholland Falls are both named for the scenic street, which has been the backdrop for many other movies. [Image courtesy of PlanJam.com.]

Caroline Donnelly is an occasional contributor to mentalfloss.com.

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10 Memorable Neil deGrasse Tyson Quotes
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Neil deGrasse Tyson is America's preeminent badass astrophysicist. He's a passionate advocate for science, NASA, and education. He's also well-known for a little incident involving Pluto. And the man holds nearly 20 honorary doctorates (in addition to his real one). In honor of his 59th birthday, here are 10 of our favorite Neil deGrasse Tyson quotes.

1. ON SCIENCE

"The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it."
—From Real Time with Bill Maher.

2. ON NASA FUNDING

"As a fraction of your tax dollar today, what is the total cost of all spaceborne telescopes, planetary probes, the rovers on Mars, the International Space Station, the space shuttle, telescopes yet to orbit, and missions yet to fly?' Answer: one-half of one percent of each tax dollar. Half a penny. I’d prefer it were more: perhaps two cents on the dollar. Even during the storied Apollo era, peak NASA spending amounted to little more than four cents on the tax dollar." 
—From Space Chronicles

3. ON GOD AND HURRICANES

"Once upon a time, people identified the god Neptune as the source of storms at sea. Today we call these storms hurricanes ... The only people who still call hurricanes acts of God are the people who write insurance forms."
—From Death by Black Hole

4. ON THE BENEFITS OF TECHNOLOGY INVENTED FOR USE IN SPACE

"Countless women are alive today because of ideas stimulated by a design flaw in the Hubble Space Telescope." (Editor's note: technology used to repair the Hubble Space Telescope's optical problems led to improved technology for breast cancer detection.)
—From Space Chronicles

5. ON THE DEMOTION OF PLUTO FROM PLANET STATUS 

PBS

"I knew Pluto was popular among elementary schoolkids, but I had no idea they would mobilize into a 'Save Pluto' campaign. I now have a drawer full of hate letters from hundreds of elementary schoolchildren (with supportive cover letters from their science teachers) pleading with me to reverse my stance on Pluto. The file includes a photograph of the entire third grade of a school posing on their front steps and holding up a banner proclaiming, 'Dr. Tyson—Pluto is a Planet!'"
—From The Sky Is Not the Limit

6. ON JAMES CAMERON'S TITANIC

"In [Titanic], the stars above the ship bear no correspondence to any constellations in a real sky. Worse yet, while the heroine bobs ... we are treated to her view of this Hollywood sky—one where the stars on the right half of the scene trace the mirror image of the stars in the left half. How lazy can you get?"
—From Death by Black Hole

7. ON DEATH BY ASTEROID

"On Friday the 13th, April 2029, an asteroid large enough to fill the Rose Bowl as though it were an egg cup will fly so close to Earth that it will dip below the altitude of our communication satellites. We did not name this asteroid Bambi. Instead, we named it Apophis, after the Egyptian god of darkness and death."
—From Space Chronicles

8. ON THE MOTIVATIONS BEHIND AMERICA'S MOONSHOT

"[L]et us not fool ourselves into thinking we went to the Moon because we are pioneers, or discoverers, or adventurers. We went to the Moon because it was the militaristically expedient thing to do."
—From The Sky Is Not the Limit

9. ON INTELLIGENT LIFE (OR THE LACK THEREOF)

Perhaps we've never been visited by aliens because they have looked upon Earth and decided there's no sign of intelligent life.
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/n/neildegras615117.html
Perhaps we've never been visited by aliens because they have looked upon Earth and decided there's no sign of intelligent life.
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/n/neildegras615117.html

"Perhaps we've never been visited by aliens because they have looked upon Earth and decided there's no sign of intelligent life."

10. PRACTICAL ADVICE IN THE EVENT OF ALIEN CONTACT 

A still from Steven Spielberg's E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
Universal Studios
"[I]f an alien lands on your front lawn and extends an appendage as a gesture of greeting, before you get friendly, toss it an eightball. If the appendage explodes, then the alien was probably made of antimatter. If not, then you can proceed to take it to your leader."
—From Death by Black Hole
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40 Fun Facts About Sesame Street
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Now in its 47th season, Sesame Street is one of television's most iconic programs—and it's not just for kids. We're big fans of the Street, and to prove it, here are some of our favorite Sesame facts from previous stories and our Amazing Fact Generator.

Sesame Workshop

1. Oscar the Grouch used to be orange. Jim Henson decided to make him green before season two.

2. How did Oscar explain the color change? He said he went on vacation to the very damp Swamp Mushy Muddy and turned green overnight.

3. During a 2004 episode, Cookie Monster said that before he started eating cookies, his name was Sid.

4. In 1980, C-3PO and R2-D2 visited Sesame Street. They played games, sang songs, and R2-D2 fell in love with a fire hydrant.

5. Mr. Snuffleupagus has a first name—Aloysius

6. Ralph Nader stopped by in 1988 and sang "a consumer advocate is a person in your neighborhood."

7. Caroll Spinney said he based Oscar's voice on a cab driver from the Bronx who brought him to the audition.

8. In 1970, Ernie reached #16 on the Billboard Hot 100 with the timeless hit "Rubber Duckie."

9. One of Count von Count's lady friends is Countess von Backwards, who's also obsessed with counting but likes to do it backwards.

10. Sesame Street made its Afghanistan debut in 2011 with Baghch-e-Simsim (Sesame Garden). Big Bird, Grover and Elmo are involved.

11. According to Muppet Wiki, Oscar the Grouch and Count von Count were minimized on Baghch-e-Simsim "due to cultural taboos against trash and vampirism."

12. Before Giancarlo Esposito was Breaking Bad's super intense Gus Fring, he played Big Bird's camp counselor Mickey in 1982.

13. Thankfully, those episodes are available on YouTube.

14. How big is Big Bird? 8'2". (Pictured with First Lady Pat Nixon.)

15. In 2002, the South African version (Takalani Sesame) added an HIV-positive Muppet named Kami.

16. Six Republicans on the House Commerce Committee wrote a letter to PBS president Pat Mitchell warning that Kami was not appropriate for American children, and reminded Mitchell that their committee controlled PBS' funding.

17. Sesame Street's resident game show host Guy Smiley was using a pseudonym. His real name was Bernie Liederkrantz.

18. Bert and Ernie have been getting questioned about their sexuality for years. Ernie himself, as performed by Steve Whitmere, has weighed in: “All that stuff about me and Bert? It’s not true. We’re both very happy, but we’re not gay,”

19. A few years later, Bert (as performed by Eric Jacobson) answered the same question by saying, “No, no. In fact, sometimes we are not even friends; he can be a pain in the neck.”

20. In the first season, both Superman and Batman appeared in short cartoons produced by Filmation. In one clip, Batman told Bert and Ernie to stop arguing and take turns choosing what’s on TV.

21. In another segment, Superman battled a giant chimp.

22. Telly was originally "Television Monster," a TV-obsessed Muppet whose eyes whirled around as he watched.

23. According to Sesame Workshop, Elmo is the only non-human to testify before Congress.

24. He lobbied for more funding for music education, so that "when Elmo goes to school, there will be the instruments to play."

25. In the early 1990s, soon after Jim Henson’s passing, a rumor circulated that Ernie would be killed off in order to teach children about death, as they'd done with Mr. Hooper.

26. According to Snopes, the rumor may have spread thanks to New Hampshire college student, Michael Tabor, who convinced his graduating class to wear “Save Ernie” beanies and sign a petition to persuade Sesame Workshop to let Ernie live.

27. By the time Tabor was corrected, the newspapers had already picked up the story.

28. Sesame Street’s Executive Producer Carol-Lynn Parente joined Sesame Workshop as a production assistant and has worked her way to the top.

29. Originally, Count von Count was more sinister. He could hypnotize and stun people.

30. According to Sesame Workshop, all Sesame Street's main Muppets have four fingers except Cookie Monster, who has five.

31. The episode with Mr. Hooper's funeral aired on Thanksgiving Day in 1983. That date was chosen because families were more likely to be together at that time, in case kids had questions or needed emotional support.

32. Mr. Hooper’s first name was Harold.

33. Big Bird sang "Bein' Green" at Jim Henson's memorial service.

34. As Chris Higgins put it, the performance was "devastating."

35. Oscar's Israeli counterpart is Moishe Oofnik, whose last name means “grouch” in Hebrew.

36. Nigeria's version of Cookie Monster eats yams. His catchphrase: "ME WANT YAM!"

37. Sesame's Roosevelt Franklin ran a school, where he spoke in scat and taught about Africa. Some parents hated him, so in 1975 he got the boot, only to inspire Gob Bluth’s racist puppet Franklin on Arrested Development 28 years later.

38. Our good friend and contributor Eddie Deezen was the voice of Donnie Dodo in the 1985 classic Follow That Bird.

39. Cookie Monster evolved from The Wheel-Stealer—a snack-pilfering puppet Jim Henson created to promote Wheels, Crowns and Flutes in the 1960s.

40. This puppet later was seen eating a computer in an IBM training film and on The Ed Sullivan Show.

Thanks to Stacy Conradt, Joe Hennes, Drew Toal, and Chris Higgins for their previous Sesame coverage!

An earlier version of this article appeared in 2012.

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