Orange Street is one of the older street names in Durham, most likely deriving from the original county name (Durham was originally located in Orange County, and Durham County was originally part of Orange and Wake Counties.) The 1884 Sanborn map shows Orange Street proceeding some distance north from the center of town into the farmland north of East Chapel Hill (née Green) Street. By 1888, though, it had taken on its later one-block length.
Around 1970, when such things were in vogue, Orange Street was turned into a semi-pedestrian mall. In typical Durham fashion, though, a jumble of 'good' ideas were lumped together to create something neither here-nor-there. Half the street was demolished, and a parking deck/lot were constructed on the entire east side. The street was made brick and planter-y, but not closed to traffic entirely.
I'm told 90% of people can't see buildings and landscape how they could be rather than how they are. If you're in the 90%, you should take my word for it that Orange Street could be a cool dense little district again someday if 1) the east side was reconstructed with buildings and 2) they'd make some sense out of what the street is used for.