05 March 2010

[signs] Pedestrian-Street ROW Blades In Seattle

Ben Lukoff, a Seattle area dude of no small renown and a fellow street-blade obsessive, posts some nifty shots of Seattle street blades at his flickr stream. One which caught my eye details how New York Alki signifies pedestrian ways that are aligned in street rights-of-way.

My fellow Portlanders may be aware of how we do it. A simple standard street blade is erected at the place where a street would be if it were built there, leading to the interestingly-dissonant scene of what looks like a walkway with a street name. Some, in the west hills, align with staircases.

As I recall, Oregon City's famous Municipal Elevator downtown was, at some time or another, designated a right-of-way called Elevator Street, but that's a digression of height as well as breadth.

Anyway! Via Ben's Twitter stream I found he'd posted this picture, which really caught my eye:

There he is, the little Crossing Guy on the end of the blades for E Mercer Street and 31st Avenue E, indicating that the city ROWs go through, but just as pedestrian paths (and, perhaps, terminating at the corresponding Open-For-Travel streets.

The font seems to be Clearview, but it seems a little off somehow.

A notable addition would be the st superscript next to the number 31 on the 31st Avenue sign. Standard Seattle style up to now will have been to use for 31 Ave E, eliding the superscript.

But it's the Crossing Guy that I really like to see there. Makes quite a statement.

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Benjamin Lukoff said...

No small renown... nice!

Good eye (of course) — there IS something off about these signs. Maybe they were just getting used to the new design?

Also notable: the blade for Lake Washington Boulevard E. (or Lk Washington Blvd E as they like to put it) is brown, as it's part of the Olmsted-designed park boulevard system.

Both 31st and Mercer here are staircases, incidentally. They do connect to the open-for-travel streets, but Mercer lasts for only a few blocks in either direction (one of which runs in front of the house I grew up in!). 31st fares better southbound, but is interrupted for a few blocks northbound, then only manages about half a block before it's swallowed up by the Arboretum.

More than you wanted to know, I'm sure.

Very cool about Elevator Street, BTW.

Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis said...

The brown blade – yes. Brown backgrounds are, as you've no doubt gathered from any given road trip, for cultural features such as museums, zoos, and parks.

The idea of the Olmstead blvds is a grand one, and I always envied Seattle for accomplishing it. The Olmsteads did come up with a park boulevard system for PDX but, surprisingly (given our green reputation) it was follwed very little if it was followed at all. The Olmsteads did give us Laurelhurst Park – but that's it pretty much. And there are boulevards in NE and SE 72nd Avenues and NE Ainsworth Street – lovely ones, but I don't know if they were meant to be part of the system.

While I don't have anything to add to the narrative about 31st and Mercer it's hardly more than I wanted to know! Actually, having you tell it illustrated the point better than I could have.

RE:Elevator Street in Oregon City: That has long deserved coverage from my plastic fantastic ViviCam 3705. We'll see about doing that soon.