The Streets Department quickly fixed a street sign misspelled Naudian after the Inquirer and Daily News reported July 14 on the sign in the 2000 block of Naudain Street in Southwest Center City. But no action has been taken on a sign spelled Ernst on Ernest Street near Ninth Street in South Philadelphia.
That's because — despite what some of the street's residents believe — city officials say that sign is spelled correctly.
A city ordinance shows that the street formerly called Summer Court was renamed Ernst on Sept. 1, 1858. City records in 1908 and 1939 also identify the street as Ernst, and official property records show that addresses on the street use that name.
All that comes as news to people who live there.
Leslie Grace, 35, who always thought the sign on her street was misspelled, is adamant that she lives on Ernest Street, not Ernst.
"My driver's license, my utility bills _ everything says Ernest," she said earnestly Wednesday. "Why don't they type in [her address on] Ernst into Google and see where it takes them?"
She's right: Google Maps lists the street as Ernest, as do the U.S. Postal Service, the Department of Motor Vehicles, and — suggesting that the confusion is not new — old city directories, like Boyd's from 1911, and a 1990 streets guide from former regional mapmaker Alfred B. Patton Inc.
Grace is not the only resident affected by the situation. Her next-door neighbor Kelley McKenna, 45, said that when she moved to the block in 2004, one of the street signs was indeed spelled Ernest.
The confusion does not end there.
In a twist that might be named "Philadelphia Streets Switched at Birth," Mike Dunn, a spokesman for Mayor Kenney, said the city also has an Ernest Street, and it's also in South Philadelphia. It's about a 15-minute drive west from the block where Grace and McKenna live, running from 28th to Dover Streets just north of Passyunk Avenue.
Naturally, Nancy Shapiro, 68, who has lived on the real Ernest Street for three years, has always considered her block to be called — you guessed it — Ernst Street.
After all, she said, that's the name used by the post office, the DMV, Google Maps — and the one on the nameplate next to her front door.
In this case, too, the street name on city property records matches the current street sign, but like Shapiro, Joseph Kluzynski, 64, who grew up on the street and frequently visits his elderly mother's house down the block, has always known his childhood home to be on Ernst Street.
Until a few years ago, he said, the sign was "spelled the right way" — as Ernst — which other longtime residents like Charles Orlando, 73, who's lived on neighboring Newkirk Street for 52 years, confirmed.
Dunn said the city had notified Google that it lists the streets incorrectly.
Streets Department spokeswoman Keisha McCarty-Skelton said the city has been looking into other sources that have mixed up the street names.
Meanwhile, life for residents of the narrow, quiet and almost hidden Ernst and Ernest Streets remains one of mild confusion.
Kluzynski said the Ernst/Ernest mystery frequently comes up when he orders pizza delivery. Shapiro said the street sign spelling is almost always pointed out by visitors.
Despite learning that the street sign on her block is correct, Grace said, "Now it bothers me more." She said she'd like the sign to be changed, but mostly just finds it funny that the city "has so many discrepancies."
Shapiro said she'd appreciate more consistency on her block as well, but "can't even imagine the amount of paperwork" that would be required to get all the city, state, and federal agencies involved on the same page.
For now, she said, switching the street signs might be easier. "But as long as I get my mail," she said, "I'm fine."