11 April 2015

[Address_Nerd] In Passing: Two Interesting Salem Street Names

While I've not called Salem home for many a year (and at this point feel myself more of a Portlander than I've ever been of anywhere else), I'd be lying to myself if I said I didn't still feel somewhat at home there.

You can take the boy out of Marion County (or he can), but you really can't take Marion County out of the boy. The strawberry patch has set its stamp upon me, aye.

Since I don't get back to Salem as often as I ought, Google Street View is my friend betimes. And since the street level photography has gotten so damn good over the last few years, I indulge my urge to see what the street names and blades look like and how they have changed over time. There are two interesting bits of nomenclature that have stuck with me. I delved and found, and I'd like to share them now.

1. The Cutoff at the end of 12th Street.

12th Street, SE, is a major access backbone to the area of southeast Salem east of Commerical Street but west of the Salem Airport. For over 2 and a half miles south of State Street it distributes traffic and commerce to those inner south-east side neighborhood areas, climbing the hill south of Vista Avenue, and then swerving southwestward to merge with Commercial Street at about the 3800 block, just north of where Sunnyside Road SE peels off.

What is easily missed, though, is that the road stops being 12th Street SE at that point. There is a 12th Street SE south of this point … but it lines up with the main stem of 12th and goes from Duffield Heights St SE south to Hilfiker Lane SE, in the small neighborhood just east of Commerical, south of the 12th St light. That diagonal section connecting 12th at Oakhill Avenue SE to the big traffic signal plenum at Commerical Street is actually known as …

12th STREET CUT-OFF SE. A real mouthful of a name. But it lends itself to, perhaps, the most intriguing looking street blades Salem can boast. The above blade blends the signage for Ibsen St SE and 12th Street Cut-off due to the interesting angle of the intersection, and the extension across the main road that allows southbound 12th Street traffic to access Commercial Street northbound … a dendritic ramp affair that also connects to Promotory Place SE.

Another interesting thing is that the signage is not consistent. There are two other cross streets to 12th Street Cut-off, Doris Ave SE and Oakhill Ave SE, and both the signs shift the "ST" generic to above the block index, leaving the "CUT OFF" kind of dangling there.

The street name is most prosaic, as the cut-off does provide a shortcut to Commercial Street. Giving it a variant name also prevents a duplicated street name, as the southern third of 12th Street Cut-Off is somewhat parallel to the southernmost extensions of 12th Street SE, just a few blocks to the east.

2. The One And Only Link You Need.

The other interesting blade happens in West Salem. I lived near this place for a very short time. There is a street that links Kingwood Dr NW and the place where Hillcrest Dr NW and Riverview Dr NW come together. This is a very short street, on the order of only about 180 feet in length, and in honor of its functional position of being very near three streets but not actually being part of any of them, it's simply (and also prosaically) called …


The "ST" generic seems to be a later addition; when I lived in that neighborhood, maps and the street sign simply called it The Link, NW. Latterly, I've noticed, post offices and city planners abhor a vacuum in the generic spot (Witness here in Portland where SE Reedway (a per se street name sans generic) is increasingly posted as SE Reedway St, a misnomer. So, the awkwardish The Link Street NW it is for them. I'll always see it a little different.

At least the word THE has been retained, giving a memorable presentation. 

1 comment:

Isaac Laquedem said...

The only other street in Portland I can think of that, like SE Reedway, doesn't have a suffix is SW/NW/N/NE Broadway. I once collected unusual suffixes (NW Logie Trail, SW Aventine/Esquiline/Fairview Circus), compound suffixes (SW 6th Avenue Drive, SW Market Street Drive, and a few others), and "Hills" (Palatine Hill Road, Capitol Hill Road, Marquam Hill Road, and the newer Orchard Hill Place). I'm working on misspellings now.