When I went to the bank on Thursday, there was a belligerent homeless man yelling obscenities at passerby, including myself. He swung out at some people, even a woman in a wheelchair. The bank was closed, so I called 911. I gave the operator the cross streets of W. 32nd St. and Greeley Square, according to the street signs on the corner. She could not find Greeley Square in the system even after providing her with the nearest address number of 1260. I then realized that this street was actually Broadway, although it was not listed on the sign. What if I did not know this, especially if I were a tourist? Would the police or ambulance be able to find my location, and how long would it take them? No police came, and I was irritated.
Once I got home, I realized how truly dangerous this is. I called 311 and filed a report, on the phone for about a half-hour. Greeley Square is not listed in the database and there are easily at least 100 alternate street names in this city. Alternate street names must be listed in the database, or the signs should be removed. If there is an emergency, people should be able to receive immediate assistance. I emailed the mayor and the commissioner of police.
Think of how scary it would be to have your friend dying next to you and you give the cross streets according to the street signs, and 911 has no clue where you are. It's disgusting really. There is no point in naming a street something if you can't use it to tell people directions. At the very least, Broadway should also be listed on the sign.
Check out this New York Times article by James Barron regarding postal service confusion with alternate street names. I have emailed Mr. Barron as well.
I assume this problem exists in cities across the country, really anywhere a street has more than one name. Something has to be done about this. Then I can start writing funny stuff in my new blog.