I’ve posted before about visiting the building that housed Edwin Land’s lab (not to mention Alexander Graham Bell’s before him, and Kaplan Furniture in between). It’s on a narrow alleylike side street in Cambridge, running just two blocks between Albany and Main Streets, that’s called … well, that’s the point of this post. Is it Osborn Street or Osborne Street? Both spellings are rampant, and I had to pick one for the book.

Google Maps says Osborne.

Click image to enlarge and read.

A bunch of old Polaroid paperwork (here, an issue of the Polaroid Newsletter from December 1960) spells it Osborn.

So does Victor McElheny’s biography of Edwin Land, which is quite rigorously correct.

An article in The Tech, MIT’s newspaper, says “Osborne.” That was presumably written or edited by a local, who ought to know. But mistakes creep into local papers all the time.

Polling the Google results (searching “osborn street cambridge massachusetts” et al.) is inconclusive: You get 960,000 hits for Osborne, 824,000 for Osborn. Too close to be any help.

I thought about this some, when working on the book. And in the end, I went with “Osborn,” for one reason above all: the street sign, which I checked when I was in Cambridge. It’s barely visible on Google Street View, but it’s clear enough that you can tell there’s no “e.”

“Osborn Street,” pretty conclusively. (Click to enlarge.)

Yes, there are mistakes on street signs too, and Osborn(e) Street has only one corner with a sign, which made me pause. If anyone out there has authoritative information to the contrary—e-mail me. (Get it? “E”-mail? Oh, I crack myself up.)

Update, 6/18/12: Discovered that the Cambridge, Massachusetts, property register lists it as “Osborn.” And I e-mailed Google Maps to suggest that it might be an error, and, incredibly, they changed it the next day. Whoa.


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3 Responses to The Osborn(e) Street Question

  1. Hi there: For my own book I need to know after who might the Osborn(e) street in Cambridge be named after. Any clue?

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