Alston Avenue is named for Absalom Alston; Jean Anderson recounts that Alston owned a large tract of land in the area now east of downtown Durham. In 1819, he sold 450 acres of land to William Dilliard, centered on the crossing of the Raleigh-Hillsborough Road and the Roxboro-Fayetteville Road.
On Lewis Blount's map of Durham in 1865, Alston Avenue exists only south of the railroad tracks, and is termed "Neighborhood Road, now Alston Avenue."
South Alston Avenue extends all the way south to RTP, ending at TW Alexander Drive. See also North Alston Avenue.