In 1905, Anna Lester, who owned much of the land directly north of the University of Arizona, recorded four street names with the Pima County Recorder's Office.
One was Lester Street, named for her and her family, and the other three - Seneca, Linden and Waverly - were named for trees.
The Seneca tree is a variety of the species Siebold viburnum. The species was named for Philipp Franz von Siebold of Germany, who gained prominence for his study of Japanese plant and animal life, among other things. The tree is small and multitrunked with dark green leaves. It is native to Japan and usually grows up to 20 feet high. In late spring, it is covered with clusters of small, white blossoms.
Because they're small, Senecas are often placed in medians or buffer strips around parking lots.
The linden tree comes in several species. The little-leaf linden (Tilia cordata) is common in Germany, where Anna Lester was born. She likely named Linden Street after this variety, which is a common ornamental tree in Europe.
During the 1600s and early 1700s, the tree was frequently used to form streets in Europe, with trees lining both sides of a path. A well-known example is Unter den Linden Boulevard in Berlin.
The tree grows 40 to 50 feet tall and has sweet-smelling yellow flowers that bloom in the summer.
Waverly is another name for the quaking aspen. There are two species: Populus tremuloides, native to North America, and Populus tremula, native to Europe and Asia. Because Populus tremula is common in Lester's homeland of Germany, the street is probably named after it. It grows 49 to 65 feet high, and its leaves turn yellow in autumn.
Anna Lester also is believed to have give other Tucson streets their tree names. Among them: Elm Street, Walnut Street (now Cherry Avenue), Pine Avenue (now Warren Avenue), Maple Avenue (now Martin Avenue) and Oak Street (now Campbell Avenue). The oak is the national tree of Germany.
As Lester's granddaughter, Barbara C. Bacon, put it: "If it is a tree name - she named it."
Each week the Star tells the stories behind Tucson street names. If you have streets to suggest or stories to share, contact writer David Leighton at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sources: Special thanks to Tanya M. Quist, director of the University of Arizona campus arboretum Emails from Barbara C. Bacon (granddaughter of Anna Lester) David Kunstler, "Siebolds Viburnum sieboldii Miquel, new non-native species record for New York," bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club, April-June, 1993 U.S. Forest Service website on Seneca tree: http://hort.ufl.edu/database/documents/pdf/tree_fact_sheets/vibsieb.pdf Michael A. Dirr, "Manual of Woody Landscape Plants: Their Identification, Ornamental Characteristics, Culture, Propagation and Uses," Stipes Publications, 1998 Dirr, "Dirrs Encyclopedia of Trees and Scrubs," Timber Press, 2011 USDA. Populus tremula page: www.ars-grin.gov/cgi-bin/npgs/html/taxon.pl?29422 Unter den linden Web page: www.visitberlin.de/en/node/161 Information on the little-leaf linden (Tilia cordata): http://hort.ufl.edu/database/documents/pdf/tree_fact_sheets/tilcora.pdf Ed C. Smith file Pima County plat map MP01008