Why Has America Named So Many Places After a French Nobleman?

The Marquis de Lafayette's Name Graces More City Parks and Streets Than Perhaps Any Other Foreigner

If you live in the United States, you’ve probably come across a county, city, street, park, school, shop, or restaurant named for Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette (1757-1834), the most beloved French hero of the American Revolution. In New York City, my home town, I’ve spotted three different Lafayette Avenues, one Lafayette Street, a Lafayette playground, and four public sculptures of the Marquis. Although there’s no official count, Lafayette probably has more American locations named for him than any other foreigner.

The practice of naming places for Lafayette …

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