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Let's say a street is known to have had name1 first, then name2, then name3. How should this be tagged so that Nominatim would be able to search in all of them? suggests alt_name_1 (and so on) for alternative names, actually discourages that. also proposes a way to specify years when the name was used, but how to handle the case when the sequence of the names is known, but the exact years when each was used - not?

Update: To clarify why it would be useful to map old names, in many cases the name change is not that long ago. There would still be printed materials referencing the old name, and in case of more recent changes, probably hundreds of websites using the old name still. Having such information in the map is useful today as people could be easily be given the old name and searching for it.

Another usecase is historical features like mounds or hills. While they might have one more prominent name, in many cases there are several other names they are or were known by.

asked 09 May '15, 07:44

Richlv's gravatar image

accept rate: 22%

edited 17 Nov '18, 19:52

I'm not sure there is actually such a need for tagging historic names, given that we want names -in use- in OSM (contrary to OHM). I would only use old_name and potentially alt_name if the names are still commonly used.

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answered 09 May '15, 09:52

SimonPoole's gravatar image

SimonPoole ♦
accept rate: 18%


in some cases the old names are extensively used in old (and even not so old) documents. it would be highly useful both to have them in the osm database and have them show up in searches. "historical search" that would kep all previous names of an object in osm could solve some of that, although often we only add old name after the object has been in osm for a while. additionally, the "previous name in osm" could have easily been a typo, so we wouldn't want to include that at all. as an example, in riga there's a a street called "Zigfrīda Annas Meierovica bulvāris". it was called "Basteja bulvāris" from 1990 until 2008, and lots of documents refer to that name. overall, using osm, there is no way to distinguish actual old names from typos. as such, it is very useful to record previous names both for data itself, as well as for the posterity of osm (showing up in search results for the old names)

(09 May '15, 10:03) Richlv

Woudn't this be a classical and useful role for a wikidata link?

I'm on the record for saying that core OSM data should be in OSM proper and not dependent on a 3rd party, but your use case would seem to be one which fits nicely for wikidata.

(09 May '15, 10:39) SimonPoole ♦

"overall, using osm, there is no way to distinguish actual old names from typos."

I don't get this? There is the "old_name" key just for that: putting in old names. Anything in there is considered not a 'typo'... why are you suggesting you can't use old names? Or is it just because the default Nominatim search doesn't consider "old_name" keys (I don't know whether that is the case or not, haven't tried), and you thus feel obliged to put an "old_name" in the "name" key somehow (which of course is bad habit and impossible as it is already used for current name)

(09 May '15, 11:08) mboeringa

According to the page from SimonPoole's comment, you can use old_name:1=foo, old_name:2=bar and so on.

(09 May '15, 12:18) scai ♦

@SimonPoole Thanks, I hadn't seen that page before, gives some insight into Nominatim.

(09 May '15, 12:18) mboeringa

@scai but it is unlikely that a lot of SW supports that notation (there was a longer discussion on one of the mailling lists a while back)

(09 May '15, 16:08) SimonPoole ♦

@SimonPoole Thats possibly true. But if there is currently no well-supported tag for specifying multiple *_names then we should just start establishing one. And it seems like a good idea to me to choose the tagging scheme that is supported by the geocoder running on our main map.

(09 May '15, 17:44) scai ♦
showing 5 of 8 show 3 more comments

When I find several old names of one highway and know the years in which they where used I tag them like this:


This tagging is not heavily used but understandable. I agree that it isn't probably easily to parse, especially in combination with a probable additional language code – but this can be solved by coding.

I don't want to start to use Wikidata for this purpose. I tried it before a little and found it quite cumbersome. Additionally: Why should I divide the data which belongs to one highway into a part for OSM and one part for Wikidata?

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answered 11 Jun '16, 07:40

malenki's gravatar image

accept rate: 6%


why not just name:1939-1945?

(31 Mar '18, 15:51) EoghanM

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question asked: 09 May '15, 07:44

question was seen: 4,760 times

last updated: 17 Nov '18, 19:52

NOTICE: is no longer in use from 1st March 2024. Please use the OpenStreetMap Community Forum