16 October 2005

[geography] Street Name Synchronicity, or When Is Idaho Falls, Idaho, A Little Bit Like Portland, Oregon?

Figure 1. A section of NW Portland.

Figure 2. A section of inner eastside Idaho Falls, Idaho.

Dig, if you will, these two pictures. Figure 1 is a familiar section of a familiar part of a familiar town: a bit of our beloved Alphabet district, Portland, OR, from the 2006 Thomas Guide. Figure 2 is a section of the inner east side of Idaho Falls, Idaho, taken from a Seeger map, published by Rand McNally, and copyrighted 1985.

Take a good look at the streets I've focussed on in the Portland map (Fig. 1). Alphabet district streets, everybody knows 'em; Hoyt, Irving, Johnson, Kearney, Lovejoy, Marshall, Northrup.

Now take a good look at the streets in the middle of the clip of I.F. in Fig. 2. You'll notice a street running along the canal called N.W. Bonneville Dr. Just a little below the center it intersects Garfield Street. Going north from Garfield, N.W. Bonneville intersects: Halsey Street, Irving Street, Johnson Street, Kearney Street, Lovejoy Street. On the left hand side of that subdivision, Marshall Avenue connects Halsey to Garfield, and Northrup Avenue connects the west end of Halsey to Lovejoy, capping off Irving, Johnson, and Kearney. One will also note that a few of the street names extend east of the Bonneville Drive canal, but not too far. I.F. planning doesn't require all streets names to continuously extend across the city, so the clip I'm showing you is the extent of these streets withing the Idaho Falls area.

Perhaps what's most "hmmm"-inducing is the standing in of Halsey for Hoyt in the Idaho Falls street pattern. For those who are familiar with I.F., the bold line along the bottom is First Street, an arterial which leads out from the center of town (which isn't far away-I.F. isn't very big) and the bold line along the right is North Woodruff Avenue, a main road which distributes traffic up and down I.F.'s middle east side. That wedge shape in the lower left hand corner is where the First Street-Lomax Street one-way grid splits. Another interesting point is that N.W./N.E. Bonneville Drive is named in relation to its position on the west or east bank of the canal, and whether or not it's north or south of First Street only (there exists S.W./S.E. Bonneville Dr off the south edge of the clipping).

I'm not in any position to research why a handful of streets in a town in North Mormonland have identical names to a similar handful of streets in eclectic Portland, Oregon. It certainly isn't odd that widely separated cities should have similar street names. But it is indeed notable that such closely associated streets in another city have identical names and even mimic the pattern somewhat.

This whole exposition was inspired by Worldwide Pablo's announcment of his visit to grand old I.F. Hopefully he'll get a look, maybe even pictures. I'm engaged myself, but if you want to look at them yourself, here's how you get there.

  • Get on I-84. Follow it east to I-86 (once called I-15w), then when you get to Pocatello, go north on I-15.
  • Get off I-15 at the Broadway/City Center exit in Idaho Falls. You'll know you're getting close when you see the Mormon Temple. It's visible from a couple miles out.
  • Go right off the exit, cross the Snake River (you might take a moment to glance at the Idaho Falls, off to the left as you cross-they're actually rapids augmented by a dam, but never mind) and go straight through downtown to the light at US Hwy 91/26. Hang a left.
  • After you go under the railroad overpass, hang a quick right on First Street.
  • Proceed about 1 mile west, past the Holmes Avenue light, and start looking for N.W. Bonneville Dr on the left.
  • Proceed down N.W. Bonneville Street to one block after Garfield Street. Gawk.
Reserve some time for this, now. It's a 6-8 hour drive one way. Get a motel room. There's a nice family-style diner on the south side of West Broadway just east of the I-15 interchange that serves a killer breakfast buffet. Recommended.


stan said...

That's funny, just moments before checking your bloggo today, I was looking up etymology of a few streets. Inasmuch as I just put "Holladay", "Hassalo" and "Glisan" into a Google search...obviously I didn't get very far.

At that moment, I was just thinking how cool it would be to have The Zehnkatzen Times do a street-by-street etymology, starting with the alphabetters. Thedn I click over here to suggest it, and looky looky, you're already talking about them!

Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis said...


That's really cool of you to say. And thank you for continuing to read me.

I have, come to that, tried to research if anything has been written as to why that section of I.F. has those particular names. It sure is odd that they have them that way. No dice, though, or as some of my cow-orkers might say, 'nu'in, honey'.

I have thought of discoursing on the sources of our street names. Snyder, as always, has already done a better job than me, but that book hasn't been revised in over 20 years. Maybe I could find out some new things. At the very least, I could summarize because, after all, this is cool stuff to know, and I don't imagine that Snyder is all that easy to find, in as much as there only ever was one printing.

Thanks for the suggestion.

stan said...

Yeah, I've never seen the Snyder book, but I suppose I could try to find it at the library.

We each get a bonus point for using "inasmuch" in our comments.