Today, Los Angeles’s Main Street extends over 20 miles from Lincoln Heights to Wilmington. But in 1927, Main Street almost wasn’t.
In the end, however, it was bureacracy that saved Main Street. The City Engineering Department informed the Council that a name change would significantly delay road-widening projects, since "Main Street" was designated as the area to be improved on all the relevant ordinances, notices, and triplicate forms. These would all have to be changed, to say nothing of the cost involved with changing maps and street signs.
The proposal died a quiet, bureaucratic death, but rumors persisted that the City Council had actually passed the measure and suspended it until the roadwork was completed. J.A. Graves, president of the Farmers’ and Merchants’ National Bank, collected over 1500 names in a petition to repeal the non-existent ordinance, including many notable citizens.
With his signature, Reverend John J. Cantwell, bishop of Los Angeles and San Diego, wrote, "The tendency of the present day to change street names as a means of paying tribute to the memory of some distinguished citizen tends to mar the historic connection between the old and the new."
Graves’s petition ended with these rousing words: "Leave us something of the flavor of the original pueblo for all the years to come… With the cry, ‘Vive Calle Principal‘ on our lips, we submit this petition to you, hoping that you will give it your earnest consideration."