14 January 2009

New and Improved Portland Downtown Street Mnemonics: Now Three To Choose From!

1912.Some time ago, I wrote about the need that Portland has for some sort of mnemonic device for keeping the downtown streets straight. In this entry I published a rather brilliant solution by a commenter identifying himself as JD. I thought he hit it out of the park (and still do), but a commenter over on my Wordpress mirror of this blog has proven that there is, indeed, more than one way to skin a cat.

There, in this entry, commenter Dave DiNucci points out the following cogent fact:

That mnemonic may help you to remember the first letter of the streets in order, but even if you're familiar with the street names, it doesn't tell you whether (say) Morrison is N or S of Madison, whether Clay is N or S of Columbia, etc.

Quite true. JD's mnemonic is designed around an initial string of letters which reflect the order of the streets from north (at Burnside) to south (at Jackson). To review, it looked like this:


Where the initials stand for, in this order:

Ankeny, Ash, Pine, Oak, Stark, Washington, Alder, Morrison, Yamhill, Taylor, Salmon, Main, Madison, Jefferson, Columbia, Clay, Market, Mill, Montgomery, Harrison, Hall, College, Jackson.

Finding words to match the first letter gave this:

All Across Portland Our Streets Wind Around Mossy Yards. Traffic Snarls May Mean Jammed Cars, Cranky Motorists Making Minimal Headway. Harried Commuters Just Love Going Slow.

Which is, I think, rather charming, and for those with more than basic geographical awareness, will fit the bill quite well. But Dave's solution drills down a little deeper, addressing the aforementioned problem (which, it just occurred to me, New York Alkaseltzer's famous "Kurt Cobain Jesus Christ Made Seattle Under Protest" shares: Do you, without consulting a map know offhand if University is north or south of Union? Me, neither) by including enough letters in each streets name to clear up the ambiguity:

AN.keny, AS.h, P.ine, O.ak, ST.ark, W.ashington, AL.der, MOR.rison, Y.amhill, T.aylor, SA.lmon, MAI.n, MAD.ison, JE.fferson, COLU.mbia, CL.ay, MAR.ket, MI.ll, MON.tgomery, HAR.rison, HAL.l, COLL.ege, JA.ckson, L.incoln, G.rant, and SH.erman

Nifty! But he's set himself out a hard row to hoe, as he himself admitted in the comment:

Inventing a paragraph with words starting the same way is a challenge.  How many "good" words start with "JE"?  With "COLU"?  Not many.  And in a row?

We couldn't have said it better. But Dave did it, twice. Here's what he came up with. I'll let his words speak for him.

Attempt 1:  This one plays off the way the streets N of Burnside are named alphabetically for Portland's founders, and those S of Burnside are more traditional names you'd find elsewhere, and in no particular order, with the N and S joining at an angle.

"ANcestors ASsociated Portland Oregon STreets With ALphabetic MORtals, Yet Toward SAlem, MAInly MADe JEjune, COLUmnar, CLiche MARked MIxtures. MONotones HARmonize HALfway, COLLiding JAuntily.  Lines Gently SHim.

(Editor's Note: Anyone how knows enough to work jejune into the same sentence with Salem is aces in my book. Anyhow ... )

Attempt 2:  This one might be easier to remember and more poetic, even if not quite so close to home. Referring to the gorge rather than downtown allows the use of "Columbia" (it's real name!) for the "COLU" street... not to mention, "JAcob's Ladders" for JAckson and Lincoln.

"AN AScending Path Of STone
Wends ALong MORning Yellow Trilliums.
SAnity MAIntenance.
MADe JEalous,
COLUmbia CLeaves MARvelous MIsty MONuments,
HARsh HALcyon COLLages.
JAcob's Ladders Gorge-ously SHine."

(Workable options include "SAge MAIden MADe JEalous," for the third and fourth lines, "HARshly HALoed COLLages" for the 5th, and "...Gently SHimmer" ending the 6th.)

I've never met Dave DiNucci in person, but I've just got to say ... this guy is wicked clever.

So there you have it my people: Three ways you can keep straight which street comes after which street in downtown Portland, tailored to your individual taste. I like them all: JD's for its simplcity, and Dave DiNucci's for the whimsy and smartness involved.

With the brain inherent in your average Portland blogger/blog reader, you just can't lose.

Thanks, Dave!

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

Powered by ScribeFire.

No comments: