12 February 2008

[pdx, Street Blade Gallery] Unusual Portland Street Blade - SE 63rd and Flavel

1358. Update, 1330 on 2008-02-13: I see someone has posted this on OLive's Oregon Reddit! This is a first for me ... thanks whoever did that. Skookum!


While on the way down to Milwaukie today to check out some information me and The Wife™ had, we had occasion to go down SE Flavel Street in order to get there via SE 52nd Ave, Harney Dr, Johnson Creek Blvd, and SE 32nd Ave. On the stretch of Flavel between 72nd and 60th I caught a most unusual street blade, but we weren't able to get a pic on the way there. On the way back, I did though:



The segment of SE 63rd Ave going south from Flavel Street is a very short, very narrow dead-end. It serves seven or eight houses of very recent design (very infill-y), and by the construction of the street, it looks very much as though it was privately-built and is probably privately-maintained, and specifically designed to serve the handful of infill-houses that it serves.


To the both the practiced and the novice blade-spotter, there is nothing unobvious about the differences in this sign:



  • Standard city street blades are white type on green. This is green on white.

  • The standard format for the generic on a numbered avenue (the part that says "AVE" here) is the same size as the rest of the type (save the ordinal on the number) and only two letters ("AV"). On this sign, the generic is the same size as the generic on named streets. By what seems to be the Portland standard, this is a style sheet more appropriate to a named street.

  • Despite the differences, though, the font looks to be an MUTCD-approved one, and appears, in fact to be identical to the one used on standard Portland blade.


We suspect that this is a privately-built and maintained street for two main reasons: the design of the street itself, which is clearly different from the street it connects to; and the reverse-color of the blade. There is local precedent for this; in Clark County, particularly, the blade color scheme of private roads which get official street names is notably different, being dark type and light background rather than the standard light type on dark background (they also bear the legend PRIVATE DRIVE so as to remove every confusion).


There is nothing that says that a private road can't have an official, 911- and Post-Office-licious and compliant street name. It makes a great deal of sense for navigation and dispatch of emergency and law-enforcment services, since a grid-based address system allows for quick location of any address point on a map without first having to know which roads connect in. Once the spot is located, presumably, the route to get there should be self-evident.


But so far as we can determine, this is the only blade if its type in Portland – indeed, in the three-county area, where private roads don't usually get named.


And, just to preserve a moment in time, here's a little of middle-south-SE Portland, Flavel Street looking westbound from 63rd. That light in the distance is the blinking light over SE 60th and Flavel.



People call this area (unfairly, I think) Felony Flats. McArthur records it as  Errol Heights, because it's at the top of the hill overlooking a locality once known as Errol, which was a station on the Oregon Electric line that once ran where the Springwater Corridor Trail does now right about where Johnson Creek Blvd crosses its eponymous stream. Latterly, in the era of modern Portland neighborhoods, they call it Brentwood-Darlington.


There are some cool people in this area, and some who are a little scary, but if you really look, you'll find that the area you live in might have the same sorts of people.


There is also a Vietnamese Buddhist monk along the north side of Flavel about a quarter-mile east of this point. Like I said, cool people.


Tags: , , ,


4 comments:

stan said...

I guess I don't really have any "official" blades to compare this to, but I also noticed that the kerning in AVE is kind of wonky. It almost says AV E.

I lived in Felony Flats (SE 77th & Duke) for literally three months in 2001. In that time, I heard gunfire on three different occasions (one of which might have been a car backfiring), and some sort of a police manhunt that was followed by a news chopper. In my book, it definitely earned its title.

On a side note, I noticed that you, too, refer to a Portland intersection by its quadrant first, then its two street names: "SE 63rd and Flavel." I too believe that this is the correct way. What always bugged me when I lived there were commercials and print ads that would say it as, "on the corner of 63rd and SE Flavel." It's SE 63rd, too, people - so why not say the SE part first so as to cover both street names?

Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis said...

@Stan:

I guess I don't really have any "official" blades to compare this to, but I also noticed that the kerning in AVE is kind of wonky. It almost says AV E.

You're absolutely right – the kerning does seem inconsistent. I imagine that these forms are still arranged by hand, and sometimes if a letter's a little off it's okay, as long as the whole thing looks good.

I lived in Felony Flats (SE 77th & Duke) for literally three months in 2001. In that time, I heard gunfire on three different occasions (one of which might have been a car backfiring), and some sort of a police manhunt that was followed by a news chopper. In my book, it definitely earned its title

Fair enough. I certainly can't contradict you on that ... it's true that the area is a bit rough. The landlord of the apts we lived in at Lambert St and Flavel Dr had at least one gun, and this last year, a disabled veteran we knew there who ought to choose his friends a bit more carefully let one of them have one of his guns at a party where there was much alchol and the police got called out and one dude went to the hospital with a bullet in him.

But I knew quite a few fine, law-abiding people in that complex too, who never had (and never will) commited a crime. Just a little prole and maybe a little wierd. I think it's unfair on them to call the whole area Felony Flats, though it's hard to fight fashion.

That's just my thoughts, there. All on me.

On a side note, I noticed that you, too, refer to a Portland intersection by its quadrant first, then its two street names: "SE 63rd and Flavel." I too believe that this is the correct way. What always bugged me when I lived there were commercials and print ads that would say it as, "on the corner of 63rd and SE Flavel." It's SE 63rd, too, people - so why not say the SE part first so as to cover both street names?

That's a good question. Most heavy locals I meet, given an intersection, will usually encode the information (quadrant)(numbered ave)(named street). If someone were at the corner of SE 18th Ave and SE Stark Street, they'd say "SE 18th and Stark".

While I'm not sure why exactly this is so common, I know as far as I'm concerned that putting the named street first ("SE Stark and 18th") feels a bit more awkward. As long as we're saying the number first, it's important to note which quadrant we're speaking of – simply "18th" is too ambiguous, as there's an 18th Ave in NW, SW, NE, and SE. And if putting the name first comes off as awkward, then saying the quadrant in front of each street ("SE 18th and SE Stark") is even more so, as well as being redundant (if we're on SE 18th, we already know that the crossing street is also SE, so we can leave it out as it's understood).

Those are the little incidental thoughts that inform me as I encode it, anyway.

Interesting question. Glad you voiced it.

Anonymous said...

I've seen another blade like that on SE 174th avenue and Emmert Ct (between Division and Main). IIRC, just like the SE 63rd blade, there's just a blade for Emmert, and nothing for 174th.

And the street is like SE 63rd as well - small with a dead end with infill houses, and most likely a private road as well.

Anonymous said...

Whoops, forgot to leave a name.

-Josh, SE Portland