During a trip to France earlier this year, while walking through the city of Perpignan, I was very pleased to discover this street named after Benjamin Franklin, the 18th century American statesman.
That name plate is in French, as you might expect, but over on the other side of the street I saw another one in a different language.
That’s because Perpignan is in the French part of Catalunya, and the streets there are all named in two languages – French and Catalan. The old wall with the Catalan sign is also interesting for its construction materials, with red bricks and river stones arranged in a traditional Catalan pattern.
The mixed materials and languages are very appropriate for Ben Franklin Street, because he’s often named as a role model for people who have a mixture of widely varying interests, whether they’re called renaissance people, polymaths or scanners.
Wikipedia describes Benjamin Franklin like this.
A noted polymath, Franklin was a leading author and printer, satirist, political theorist, politician, scientist, inventor, civic activist, statesman, soldier, and diplomat.
In her book The Renaissance Soul, Margaret Lobenstine wrote this about him.
One of my favorite Renaissance men is actually from the American colonial era: Benjamin Franklin. As a printer, inventor, scientist, author, and diplomat, he blended the perpetual curiosity of the Renaissance man with the down-to-earth, can-do spirit of America.
And in the prologue of Refuse to Choose, Barbara Sher’s book about the Scanner personality type, she includes Ben Franklin among her examples of famous people in history “whose interests were also all over the map” and who “flitted from one subject to another with complete freedom”.
Ben’s unique character led to him becoming enormously popular during his time in France. His diplomatic work there was very successful, and he even inspired a new women’s hairstyle. This video tells you more about his life, achievements and personality.
It sounds like a fascinating and highly successful life. So let’s keep on walking down Benjamin Franklin Street!