23 November 2005

[Address_Nerd] History in the Curbstones, Part II

Dig, if you will, this picture:

This is the corner of SE Woodstock Blvd and SE 53rd Avenue, facing WSW, taken late on a recent late Fall afternoon (which, of course, is not all that late, but for the early sunset, which is why the light is so low). SE 53rd Avenue is the small unpaved street in the foreground, and it ends in a dead end about 100 feet or so off to the left. On the right hand, and just out of shot, is Woodstock Blvd, the Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church across the street, and immediately left and out of shot is a small drive-up espresso stand. Less than a block east on the same side of the street is a Plaid Pantry store; the bluish building in the background of the shot is the Mike's Auto Parts store at 52nd and Woodstock.

Recall, a few weeks back, I noted that before the street name rationalization in ca. 1930, the area sout of division and east of 39th out to the city's edge had a different pattern than the rest of the city; numbered avenues ran east-west crossing numbered streets, all suffixed SE and based on our modern baselines of Burnside and the river. In this area, many streetcorner markings in the pavement date from that time, so, if you come to a corner and look down, you can actually see what the streets used to be called.

Woodstock is the 6000 block south of Burnside, so in the old system it would be 60th Avenue, SE; what we today call SE 53rd Avenue would be 53rd Street SE. Let's go to the evidence:

The curbstone picture beneath the sign is the marking you see on the street the sign belongs to. So we see that, as predicted, the curb (on the right) under the SE Woodstock Blvd sign says 60(th) AVE S.E., but the curb on the SE 53rd Avenue side reads, not 53, but 54 ST S.E..

A look at a map suggests that someone, at some time, needed to make a judgement call. Between SE 52nd and SE 57th Avenues on the south side of Woodstock Blvd there are three dead-end stubs. Today they are 53rd, 55th, and 56th. At the time they were made it must have seemed more appropriate to number it 54th; very close by, entering Woodstock from the north, is another part of SE 54th Avenue.

These pavement markings still exist in a great many places in S.E., and though we can't expect them to stay indefinitely, the city doesn't seem to be in a hurry to remove them, so there's still time to find 'em.

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