29 October 2009

[address_nerd] New Seattle Street Blades, And PNW Address Nerds Unite!

2251.Benjamin Lukoff, a Seattleite with whom I'm fortuned to occiasionally communiciate with, has an article up on Crosscut.com about the Seattle street blades which are being gradually rolled out, coincidentally at more-or-less the same time Portland's are undergoing a gradual change.

The observation is particularly fun because, just as the leaves are going from green to brown, so are the the Seattle street blades:

Actually, not all of the Seattle blades are brown, just the ones on Seattle's network of Olmstead boulevards, those city-spanning parkway blvds like Ravenna Blvd or (as above) Lake Washington Blvd and Interlaken Blvd that were inspired by the Olmstead Brothers' park plan for Seattle.

Ben points out that this change has been in the works for a while:

Yet it turns out that we approved this project in 2006 as part of the Bridging the Gap levy. Since then we've begun replacing signs at all our nearly 13,000 intersections, as the aluminum ones installed in the 1960s have definitely begun to show their age, and the new fiberglass batch is larger and more reflective. In a sense, we're finally catching up with the rest of the country. Our timing may not have been perfect, but we'd better pray for strong stomachs, because this project is scheduled to go, according to a report in The Seattle Times, until 2016. (On the bright side, that leaves plenty of time for you to pick up your favorite old sign at the city's surplus warehouse.

The material appears to be the same that we here in PDX are seeing going up on our new street blades.

The new Seattle design not only includes a design for streets and roads but also for pedestrian stairways and paths that happen to be in the streets right-of-way and trails (such as the Burke-Gilman Trail), with a walking-man pictogram similar to the ones we see on our walk-signals. Very nifty.

Ben does point out that, as I've seen in Portland, some mistakes are obtaining. No misspellings yet, but directionals are being left off and some signs are a little inscrutable.

It is becoming apparent that Clearview, the font, is catching on all over. Seattle's signs are using it too, and the reputation of mixed-case type is being forewarded thereon.

The real gem is that Ben links two other of us Address Nerd (or sign-obsessives, if you will). The other one is one whom I've enjoyed, Morgan Wick; the other is, of course, my own self. It made my day when I saw he linked me to the work "odd", which made me laugh out loud.

Address nerds go viral? Maybe. And here I thought I was the only one, when I started. Nifty.

Ben's full flickr stream is here. Also very nifty. Don't miss the "Gently Used Kids Sale" while you're at it. That Seattle – so inscrutable.

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Snowbrush said...

You've got to be the only street blade expert I've ever known. Not only did I not know any, I didn't even know there were any.

Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis said...

Well, there are Ben and Morgan, though I think I got at it with my own sort of 'elan', if you'll allow.

I certainly think I was the first evern to give myself any sort of title.

There really weren't any before us. We are that sort of self-made experts the intertubes tend to give birth to.

Benjamin Lukoff said...

It was either "odd" or "obsession" :)

You definitely have your own √©lan! I wouldn't even have known there was anything to this other than my own fixation if not for your blog. The funny thing is, I think I came across it looking for something else, not for information on blades. And then — OMG, I am not alone!

Nice writeup and thanks for the links.