25 March 2009

New-PDX-StreetBladePalooza and More Curbstone History In Sellwood

1995.Today I found not one but two new-look PDX street blades. We go into Sellwood with gun and camera ... minus the gun.

This is a view down SE Tacoma Street looking toward the 13th Avenue light. That spire on the right is a Columbia Sportswear store that at one time, not too long ago, was the Sellwood Theater movie house:



A thing to see in the area is the sign to the Methodist Church, there on the left, which typically has Korean (well, at least it looks Hangul) on the readerboard. Very interesting to view.

And, askew on the SE corner of SE 13th Avenue and Tacoma Street, The Wife™'s sharp eye picked out this:



Tacoma Street is the 81st full block south of Burnside, so Tacoma equals the 8100 block.

The signs are looking better and better. The block index, which seemed to crowd the name at first, now seems more natural that way. Here's a closer look:



And the Avenue blade:



The kerning on this sign is very well done. There's a companion for it, over on the NW corner of the intersection, adjacent to the dental clinic (which, I note, is accepting new customers).

Some time ago I had a "day job" down in little ol' Sellwood, and decided to leave the area on a circuitous route, doubling back on SE 17th Avenue to go either north out that street or east out SE Tacoma. Little did I know that Sherrett Street had a surprise for me. Here you go:



It's a longer name, there's a longer blade, and the block index number is a little condensed (the numbers themselves seem a little bit squeezed skinny). Note also here it's a mixed set; like the 92nd and Ellis assembly I showed off a little while back, the SE 17th Avenue blade is the old-look, extruded style. The new Sherrett Street blade is only on the NE corner of the intersection; it's companion, on the SW corner, is the traditional old-style (complete with bolted-on block index tab on the Sherrett blade), is pretty weathered and could use replacing itself.



I remember when I worked in this area, about two-three blocks south of here. If I didn't know it before, I'd not recognize it now; something is always being built or remodeled around there these days:



That convenience store there on the right, Foster's Market and Deli, has been there an awful long time, and if it's still owned by the Fosters, under the same ownership.

Nice, dark photos, yes? When you've lived in a place all your life, you tend to take the environment for granted, including the seemingly-everpresent Oregon overcast. It's not till you get the photo home that you realize how dark it was out there. You'd think I was shooting day-for-night here.

One other remarkable thing. My obsession with the Portland address grid should by now be a matter of wide public record. I've also documented that frequently the archaic street name was preserved in the curbstone of the corner; I don't know exactly why they decided to do that, though I've always thought that it was for the benefit of pedestrians (of which there were undoubtedly more of back before 1930). But the point I'm driving at is that when the city street grid was rationalized in The Great Renaming of 1933, some numbered avenues actually changed thier names too. In a posting made on 23 Nov 2005, I published some pictures and findings detailing the changes that occurred over time at the corner of SE 53rd Avenue and Woodstock Blvd (which were once known as, respectively, 54th Street SE and 60th Avenue SE).

The corner of SE 17th Avenue and Sherrett Street has a similar treat in store. The corner holds the name of the contractor who poured the cement and dates it to 1910, twenty years after the merger of Portland, East Portland and Albina into the kernel of the modern-day City of Portland and twenty-three years before The Great Renaming. Looking down at the corner side facing onto SE 17th Avenue, one finds the following:



It may be a little hard to read at that resolution, but it says:

E. 19 ST. S

In 1910, what we call SE 17th Avenue was known to the people who lived in Sellwood rather as East 19th Street South. The suffixing of South is unexepected, as the general Portland street naming scheme of the day suggests it would have merely been East 19th Street only. Perhaps the suffixing of South was reserved for streets in the city's outer areas, as Sellwood is today, and with the slower travelling modes of the dawn of the 20th Century, would have seemed like the boonies.

But how did 19th Street move down two places to become 17th Avenue? We can only guess that they started counting from a slightly different place, or decided to call 15th 17th for some reason. But some number changing went along with the name changing.

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5 comments:

Benjamin Lukoff said...

Love the old street name in the concrete. There are similar things in Seattle--I can't find a picture doing a quick Google search, but they're blue-and-white mosaics. I wonder when they date from.

Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis said...

Those are cool. Sadly, we here in PDX haven't kept many-if any-of them. I don't mean to sound arrogant, but if anyone would have found one by now, odds are it would have been me.

They have beautiful examples of that sort of thing (generally speaking) in San Francisco too as Eric Fischer has documented in his WalkingSF flickr photostream. Here's an example:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/walkingsf/3212793305/

It's not tile but it has the same feel, and it's charming too.

pril said...

aw, from Klamath Falls I say "What Oregon overcast?"

Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis said...

Okay, fair enough. Western Oregon overcast. Willamette Valley overcast, if we must.

But I'll bet you saw your fair share if that when you lived down by the coast (yes, I've been reading your bloggage for that long!).

pril said...

yup. eight straight months of gray sky every year for 11 years about drove me completely insane (maybe it did, and no one noticed?). I had forgotten what the night sky looked like until we moved east of the mountains. And then remembered to look up one night and was totally blown away by how clear it was and how many I could see. Stunned. Last night was one of those stunning, dark, clear nights. Granted, it was about 20 degrees with the windchill around 9, but still worth standing out there and looking at it.