Friday, September 21, 2018

Comprehensive Plan Update already Prompts Head Scratching

Earlier this month the City announced the initial appointments to the Advisory Committee for the update to the Comprehensive Plan. Soothingly named "Our Salem," the process offers an initial committee that may offer more tension than unity, and shows an odd, even over-broad, sense of "ownership" for Salem.

Over on FB there is already a conversation about this, so there's not much new here to say. But maybe just to amplify concerns that the project already looks compromised from the start?
  • If it's "our Salem," why is there a Mayor from another city that is frequently dismissive of Salem, indeed whose municipal origin story and self-identity is all about "not-Salem"? That's not "ours" that's negation!
  • If the project is supposed to include a greenhouse gas assessment, why is a prominent denialist on the committee?
Sure there's a need to have diversity and some debate on the committee. But is this set up with the right diversity and for the right debates?

The committee's composition looks like something designed for gridlock and the status quo. It doesn't look very productive.

But its composition looks like it might be intended to produce something extra. One way of looking at the odd composition is to note the number of people who also sit on the SKATS Policy Committee, who have for several years resisted any kind of greenhouse gas assessment or scenario planning. Is this "Our Salem" process actually a way to do what SKATS has refused to do? There may be some subtext or other maneuvering going on here.

It also seems worth noticing that while this committee just appeared fully formed as announced, the committee for the Crosswalk Committee will have a process and recruitment.
[T]he City will seek community input and participation from Salem’s 18 neighborhood associations in a Project Advisory Committee to help develop a Safer Crossings Program.
Why didn't Our Salem have a similar announcement and solicitation?

Strong Towns has a series right now on a failed planning update in Austin, and it might be useful reading. You don't have to agree with all the details and argument to find it valuable.
And just as a footnote, on the Council "administrative purchases" list for Monday, the Fregonese Associates contract for "Our Salem" is listed at $ 197,045.

It's early here to have very much to say about the process for "Our Salem," but as first impressions go, it's not auspicious.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Open Streets Salem and Eugene Sunday Streets this Weekend!

The weather for Open Streets Salem on Saturday the 22nd looks mostly good - sun, some clouds, maybe a passing shower. And if you wanted to make a full weekend of open streets fun, you could travel to Eugene for their Sunday Streets on the 23rd.

This is from 2017; there's one new center
on Norway and Winter at Jason Lee Church
(This year's map is a tiny image)
Here in Salem they've published the schedule of traveling events, and it's great to see more of them:
11 a.m. – Ride with the Mayor: Meet at the Highland Elementary School Activity Hub Info Booth for a ride with Salem Mayor Chuck Bennett and City Councilor Cara Kaser to Grant Community School!

11:30 a.m. – Nearby Nature Walk: Meet at the Straub Environmental Center booth at Grant Community School - Escuela Comunitaria Grant for a half-hour walk of nature highlights in the neighborhood!

12 p.m. – Choose Reuse, Salem Puppet Parade 2018: Meet at Grant Community School - Escuela Comunitaria Grant for a puppet extravaganza! Make a giant puppet, celebrate at the awards ceremony, and parade down Winter Street to the Salem Saturday Market. Puppet assembly will begin at the corner of Hood & Cottage.

1 p.m. – River Sangha Mindfulness/Peace Walk: Meet at the Highland Elementary School OSS Info Booth for a silent Mindfulness/Peace Walk to the Jason Lee Hispanic Resource Center!

1:30 p.m. – Meet at the Straub Environmental Center booth at Grant Community School for a half-hour walk of nature highlights in the neighborhood!

2 p.m. – Winter-Maple Bikeway Tour: Meet with Salem Bike Boulevard Advocates at the OSS Info Booth in the northwest corner of Salem Saturday Market for a bicycle tour of the Winter-Maple Bikeway route!

ODOT to OTC: Fatality Rate Worsening

ODOT's "board," the Oregon Transportation Commission meets today, and they will get updates on Key Performance Measures and Transportation Options. (Agenda and meeting materials here.)

On both, it is reasonable to ask whether ODOT is actually going to walk the walk, or if it's just talk.

Are we actually going to manage to these KPM?

Fatalities and Serious Injury on worsening trend

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

City Announces New Crosswalk Committee

Coming out of the Pedestrian Safety Study, the City's announced the formation of a new Committee to recommend crosswalks and sidewalk enhancement around Salem.

Crosswalk and Median on 17th at Mill in 2015
From the City:
​The City of Salem continues to focus on making it safer and easier to bike, walk or drive in Salem. In late September 2018, the City will seek community input and participation from Salem's 18 neighborhood associations in a Project Advisory Committee to help develop a Safer Crossings Program. The committee will consist of community members and City staff who will work together to provide final program recommendations to City Council by Spring 2020.

Once complete, the Safer Crossings Program will allow community members to:
  • Formally identify pedestrian safety needs;
  • Request projects to address those needs, such as installation or improvement of crosswalks, rapid-flashing beacons, or radar signs;
  • Easily see the criteria that are used to prioritize pedestrian safety projects and track project status.
The Safer Crossings Program is one of the recommendations from the Pedestrian Safety Study completed in March 2018. The study looked at a combination of crash data, police reports, and field observations to find ways to make it safer for everyone who drives, walks, or bikes in Salem. Other recommendations include upgrading certain traffic intersections and corridors, strategies for citywide application, and specific policy updates.

Rhetoric and Messaging for Effective Advocacy

At a big bike and walk conference this week in New Orleans, Places for Bikes (formerly People for Bikes) yesterday presented on rhetoric and messaging for bike advocacy.

"Activating support for bike infrastructure" - slide deck cover
This is a topic a real interest here, and we'll come back to it for sure.

The all-important "don't"s!
The "dont's" were interesting. Among them were:
  • Don't be in opposition to cars.
  • Don't lecture abstractly about the environment.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Whoo-Hoo! New Fossil Fuel!!! A New Turn Lane, and a Cancelled Crosswalk

Front Page last week
You probably saw the piece last week about the new gas station near Madrona and Commercial. Part of the traffic impact mitigation is a new northbound turn lane from the east, westbound side of Madrona onto Commercial.

New sidewalk and turn lane in progress, mid-September
That's in progress, and supposed to be done soon. But it's interesting to see that the new turn lane (between old curb and new sidewalk) may not be wide enough for later striping of a bike lane. A disconnected fragment of bike lane wouldn't make much sense here, but there are other places where we do stripe fragments, waiting to be assembled into a longer route.

The gas station did cancel a crosswalk.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Ride with the Mayor...Then What? How about Drive Less Challenge!

Maybe the centerpiece of Open Streets Salem, the Ride with the Mayor kicks off at 11am on Saturday the 22nd from Highland Elementary School.

Open Streets Salem
But what then? The "Ride with the Mayor" is a one-off, a little orphaned. What happens after the hoopla wears off?

the City as "model" and "leading example"
TDM chapter of TSP
According to the City's formally adopted Transportation System Plan,
The City of Salem shall encourage the use of alternative travel modes by serving as an institutional model...[and] leading example.
Councilor Andersen is great on this and leads by example. You can often see his bike at City Council. Earlier this summer in the midst of the cyanotoxin crisis, he biked up to our Geren Island water intake and treatment facility.

Drive Less Challenge
Is there a way to get more people in leadership positions visibly involved, so these things aren't just one-off photo ops, but knit more into habit and routine? To create more of an institutional culture at the City of visibly "modeling" ways to get around apart from our default drive-alone car trip? Maybe City leadership already does this, and if so they should share more of it publicly on social media, in interviews, and by participating in "encouragement" contests.

The Ride with the Mayor could be a pivot to the Drive Less Challenge and Walk+Roll to School Day, for example. It would be great to see daily updates from the Mayor, other Electeds, and other managers. (Remember when City Manager Steve Powers said he was going to bike and walk to City Hall?) They should really get into the challenge, even issue challenges to other municipalities! How about a West Salem focus from the Congestion Relief Task Force?!

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Riverfront Park Plan Open House Tuesday the 18th

The City's published an updated concept plan for Riverfront Park, and it looks like a reasonable compromise, maybe a little dialed-back from the big ideas in the three versions we all looked at earlier this year.

So just a couple of things to note in passing.

at the south end, the new amphitheater at center #5
I was a little worried that any parking lot expansion (#12 and dashed yellow) would be way oversized, but what they have proposed looks modest and proportionate.

The path connection under the railroad and along the creek to Mirror Pond is keyed at #2, but hardly mentioned. This project needs more visibility and and a formal update from the City on the delay.

The possible bridge at #1 might be nice, but let's get the path connection first!

Monday, September 10, 2018

Congestion Task Force Reflects Ad Hoc Process, is Anti-Pedestrian, Anti-Climate

The Congestion Relief Task Force meets on Friday, and they've helpfully posted drafts of the meeting materials. So that's a nice thing to be able to report.
But the overall approach remains problematic, even a little suspect.

Much of that judgement come down to frame and expectations: What is the right frame for and expectations to have of the Task Force?

Task Force as Short-Term Consolation Prize?

To an earlier post arguing that the Task Force was fundamentally missing the big picture, a person commented
I think your criticism miss[ed] an important point. My understanding is that the Congestion Task Force is a political consolation prize for third bridge supporters and is specifically looking at short and mid-term solutions to car traffic in the downtown/river crossing area. I think the questions and issue you raise need to be addressed during the update to the comprehensive plan.
That articulates a frame and set of expectations.

So let's suppose that is the right one for the moment.

If that is the right frame and set of expectations, a useful thing would be to have a "road map" pointing outside of the Task Force and suggesting some "next steps." It wouldn't have to reference the Comprehensive Plan update specifically, and it could be more general in reference. But there would be a network of conceptual relations - bridges?! - that pointed outside of the Task Force's study limits for further consideration and actions. There would be the groundwork for a pivot to the medium- and longer-term planning. It should be more self-aware in method and in process.

But we do not see this.

Utter disconnect on climate and emissions
As it is the Conclusions lead with:
  1. The population of Salem and the region is projected to grow more than 20 percent over the next 20 years. The majority of residential growth is expected to occur west and south of downtown.
  2. Vehicle congestion in the study area is projected to increase. This will result in longer travel times and the duration of the morning and afternoon peak commutes on the two bridges.
Those are numbers one and two.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

City Council, September 10th - Plastic Bags

Council meets on Monday, and there's not much of interest here specifically.

Others will have plenty to say about the proposed ban on plastic bags.

So here's an idea for a next step: A phase-out on dirty two-stroke engines in things like leaf blowers, lawn mowers, and toy motorcycles!

via Twitter and the Wall Street Journal

Isn't this a lawn-mower engine bolted onto a bicycle? (May 2017)
There are two Council appointments to the committee for the Comprehensive Plan update. Councilor Lewis is a realtor and even if he has been championing some disagreeable policies of late, it is reasonable to want on the committee a realtor from Council. They will be shaping a new vision for development, after all. His presence alone on a committee projected to meet twice only will not tank the plan, and it could help develop greater assent, even enthusiasm, from a wider range of realtors and developers. We'll see.

The item also has the first public description of the process I have seen:
The Community Development Department is forming a stakeholder advisory committee to provide guidance and advise staff during the Comprehensive Plan update project, called Our Salem, which will help guide future growth and development in the Salem area. The need to develop a “comprehensive, long-term vision for future growth and development” was identified as a priority in the City’s adopted Salem Strategic Plan.

The stakeholder advisory committee will include City Council members, Planning Commission members, Neighborhood Association representatives, elected officials from area jurisdictions and agencies, representatives from the development and business communities, and other stakeholders. It will provide guidance throughout the Our Salem project, which will be completed in phases.

The first phase, Our Salem: Today, encompasses an analysis of the existing conditions of the city and an evaluation of how the Salem area could grow under current policies. It also includes a greenhouse gas inventory that measures the community’s impact on the environment. This first phase is expected to begin this month and take roughly nine months to complete. During that time, the committee is expected to meet two times. All advisory committee meetings will be open and available to the public.
Finally, the City wants to do more for urban forestry and trees.

There's also an information item on approval to convert a house on High Street at the base of Gaiety Hill to a short-term rental. (There might be occasion to revisit this at another time, as it is another point in favor of the thesis that Mission Street is already in transition. Some of the rhetoric against it also expressed the exclusionary sentiment for single-family housing to which we will return, especially as the Comprehensive Plan update cranks up. See here on historic districts and on deed restrictions.)

725 High Street: To be a short-term rental, back in July

Friday, September 7, 2018

Traces of Old Hotel at New Police Station Site? Archeology Day Offers Glimpse of Older Salem!

The City just announced a nice moment (and probably also calculated for good PR) at the new Police Station, a public archeology day.

Lodging House, Mill Race on corner, Corral on alley
Liberty and Division, 1895
The area for the Police Station is between centers of the earliest urban activity in old Salem: Along Mill Creek and at Boon's there was early activity in the north, and then downtown, along Pringle Creek, and at Willamette University.*

The Police Station site is sandwiched a little between them.

I don't know of any photos of the block, but by 1895 the Sanborn Fire Map shows a reasonably well developed residential area.
 
1895 Sanborn Fire Map
On the corner of Liberty and Division also note the "Lodging House" and in back off the alley a corral. There are also outhouses.

Running down the middle of Division is an old Mill Race we have lost track of!

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Robot Car Task Force Draft Report Looks Autoist and Thin


The Task Force on Autonomous Vehicles has published their draft Report and will present it at a meeting on September 10th.

This is not something we've been following closely here, and it will be very interesting to hear what others have to say on it. Last month the Safe Routes to School team remarked they had some concerns:
The National Partnership has been monitoring the AV Task Force activity and provided testimony during this most recent meeting. We thanked the Task Force for its leadership in this very important conversation for our state, and we also asked for them to hold an in-depth discussion on how this emerging technology could and should impact our most vulnerable and at-risk populations. We believe this conversation needs to happen sooner rather than later, to ensure we avoid furthering economic, safety and health disparities for our communities.
Earlier, AJ Zelada, former chair of the Oregon Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, shared concerns with the Task Force:
Given that the first round of Task Force Agenda and Memorandi are now appearing…there are deficiencies which show the void of not having all the important players at the table. The Pedestrian/Bicycle/Vulnerable Road user viewpoint is missing in every material packet presented on the ODOT website.
Indeed, the report seems to follow recommendations from pro-industry groups, and does not appear to have a sufficiently critical perspective. Crucially, safety for people not in cars is hardly mentioned. It looks like at least a partial instance of regulatory capture by cheerleaders for a nascent industry, and concerns raised by Safe Routes and a former Chair of OBPAC do not seem to have been addressed very robustly, if at all.

There is also reason to think Robot Cars won't reduce the amount of vehicle travel but will induce more. A recent study (here at the Washington Post and at Slate) found that drivers roaming without a fare greatly increased total travel:  "Schaller projects services like Lyft and Uber put 2.8 new vehicle miles on the road for every mile of personal car travel they remove." When we think about a personal commute, there is the drive to work, car storage time, then the drive home: An out-and-back loop. With a Robot Car, the temptation will be chauffeur to work, send the car home, hail the car, chauffeur back home. That's two loops where once there was but the one. Some may be willing to share a Robot Car with others either sequentially as a ride rental, or concurrently as a carpool, but many will want the exclusive pleasures of the solo chauffeured ride. Pricing the use of Robot Cars correctly will be important, and it's not clear incipient regulatory schemes are prepared for this.

Previously:
As others publish comment on the draft report, this post may be updated.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Winter-Maple Greenway, 25th and State: ODOT Project Scoping at MWACT

The Mid-Willamette Valley Area Commission on Transportation meets on Thursday, and they'll be seeing a preliminary list of projects for State funding in the 2021-2024 cycle.

There's not a lot of information here, and once they get farther along and SKATS takes a look at them, there might be more to say. It's also not exactly clear how far along they are in the scoping process and how many projects (or how much dollar value) will fall out as the vetting continues.

Still, there are three projects being scoped that would significantly help walking and biking in Salem.

25th & State (the spreadsheet is not a very clear scan)
The project for 25th and State "includes median island on west leg of intersection to improve visibility of pedestrians; realigning crosswalk on east leg...; upgrading ADA facilities...extending left turn pocket for westbound to southbound movement..."

The crosswalk improvements would be helpful. You might remember neighborhood advocacy on this intersection even before the State Street Study kicked off. At the same time, because the Study embraced the "hybrid" plan rather than a full 4/3 Safety Conversion, the engineering and design for this project will be different than it would have been under the 4/3 conversion, and it is even possible that the four-lane cross section will be locked in.

That's just something to monitor.
Commercial St between D & Union
The Commercial Street project from D street to Union Street includes new bike lanes, in an area that has lacked them.

That's also at the new UGM/Police facilities.

Winter-Maple Greenway package
The project on Cherry Avenue at the Parkway includes "pedestrian refuge islands," a "bike signal" at the intersection with Auto Group Way, and a "separated bike boulevard between Auto Group Way NE and Salem Parkway," all part of the Winter-Maple Greenway package.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Fear of Wobblies, Expanding Surveillance State: Labor Day in 1918

Labor Day Message, 1918
In the middle of all the war headlines, just a few days before Labor Day, on August 30th IWW founder Bill Haywood's sentencing for sedition got big placement also. Labor might be celebrated, but only as it could be directed, managed, and expressed in authorized modes.

August 30th, 1918
From the paper:
"Bill" Haywood Handed Plenty

With Fourteen Other Leaders Must Serve 20 Years In Federal Prison And Each Pay a Fine of $20,000. - Others Draw Sentences As Low As Ten Days In Jail

Chicago. Aug. - Fifteen leaders of the Industrial Workers of the World, including "Big Bill" Haywood, today were sentenced to twenty years in federal prison and to pay fines of 20,000. They had been convicted on four counts charging sedition and obstruction of America's war program. Others of the 97 defendants drew lighter sentences.

Federal Judge K. M. Landis pronounced sentence's ranging from ten days in the Cook county jail for minor defendants to the twenty year-$20,000 punishment for the more prominent leaders.
It's hard sometimes to grasp the depth of feeling against the wobblies, but some of the reactionary populism and the ways it used patriotic symbolism might rhyme today.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Liberty Street between Court and Chemeketa Points to Historic District Flaws

Pacific Office Automation has a sign request at the restoration on 260 Liberty Street NE. It'll go before the Historic Landmarks Commission later this month.

While the east side of Liberty Street between Court and Chemeketa is formally included in the Downtown Historic District's boundaries, the buildings in it all straddle the boundary between historically significant and non-significant. In the lingo, they are on the edges between "historic contributing" and "historic non-contributing," and so they are useful test cases for our historic preservation codes in determining whether the codes actually do what we want them to do. The street also reminds us that we once did not have such a strict sort-and-separate approach to development, and that our notions about purity and integrity in any "historic district" are themselves historical and not timeless.

It is interesting to consider the immediate context of the building. A photo from probably the 1920s recently turned up in the digital collections of the Oregon Historical Society, and it really captures a moment in the development of that block and side of Liberty Street.

East side of Liberty St from Court St looking north, circa 1920s
(Oregon Journal collection via Oregon Historical Society)

Same view today - via Streetview

Friday, August 31, 2018

On his Bike Jack Rice Died Last Night in Collision with Train

From Salem PD:
On August 30, 2018 at approximately 7:30 pm Salem police officers and Salem firefighters responded to State Street and 12th Street on the report of a bicyclist being struck by a train. The male cyclist was declared deceased at the scene by medics.

Witnesses reported that the male cyclist had been riding westbound on State Street when he approached the railroad crossing and was struck by a southbound Amtrak passenger train. Based on the initial investigation, it appears that the railroad warnings and barriers were functioning at the time of the collision.

The deceased's identity will not be released until his next of kin have been notified.

It is anticipated that eastbound State Street at 12th Street will be closed for the next few hours while the investigation is completed.
As the release says, State Street is eastbound here, so a person riding westbound is either going against traffic or is on the sidewalk. And the lack of bike lanes on the Court/State couplet may compound any errors in judgement or perception. Hard to say very much until we know more.

Update, September 1st


Update, September 15th

At the crossing

Memorial for Jack Rice

This post will be updated as more information comes out.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Safe Routes and Cherriots Host Second Active Transportation Network Meeting Thursday

This is late notice, but if you have tomorrow afternoon free, Thursday the 30th a group of transportation advocates will hold their second meeting at Cherriots. The group appears to be mostly aimed at those already working for government or non-profits in transportation or transportation-adjacent areas, but if you wanted to network and learn, this could be a good way to get involved and for something to lead to specific projects and advocacy.

meeting agenda
From the Safe Routes to Schools description:
The Salem-Keizer Active Transportation Network (ATN) serves as an informational hub for community-based organizations and public agencies in the region to share information on best practices and upcoming funding competitions, and to engage in increasing active transportation investments and policy....

The ATN meeting on the 30th will be focused on transit and transporation options for the region....A Spanish language interpreter will be available to accomodate our Spanish-speaking partners.

Funny Lot with Walls on Second and Patterson NW to Become Sports Rehab Clinic

The City's posted a Hearing Notice for a proposed sports medicine rehab clinic on the funny walled lot on Second and Patterson.

From this...via Streetview

To this! via Public Hearing Notice
Mostly it looks pretty great, but you know, could we just arrange a swap so that Xicha gets this spot, and the clinic goes to the more hidden, industrial park site? (I know, I know.)

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Four Corners of Dud: At Commercial and Chemeketa Streets

We spend a fair amount of time here lamenting and lambasting the empty lots and surface parking lots downtown. Most of the voids had buildings on them at one time, and after fires or other building loss, owners haven't found sufficient incentive to rebuild on them.

There are other lots that have buildings on them, but are underwhelming, sterile, or just duds.

In thinking about the prospect of the UGM move, the old Gerlinger Building on the southwest corner (Firestone today) of Chemeketa and Commercial came to mind. Between the Chemeketa Parkade straddling the two east-side corners and the buildings on the west side, there are no empty lots here. But there are now four corners of dud. We haven't exactly trashed the intersection, and there are useful businesses on the corners, but the architecture is dull or unfriendly, especially with the parkade, and in total it is much less lively and interesting than it should be.

West side of Chemeketa & Commercial
from north, 1943 - detail
(Salem Library Historic Photos)
Of all the intersections in downtown, especially those that have buildings and are not empty, it is the one I most wished we still had around in an older form. High & Chemeketa is a close second, but that's more related to the voids on the old City Hall site, and the still-empty north transit mall. In any case, even with the too-big roads, Liberty & State as well as Liberty and Court retain most of their integrity and are intersections we should cherish and value while we still have them. By comparison, Chemeketa & Commercial is charmless and lifeless.

This is just a tour of the four corners and what used to be on them. It surfs around in time and is not trying to show what the intersection looked like at any one particular time or to trace out the specifics of building development or retail history. So it's a little ahistorical in that regard. But all four quarters were intact during the early- and mid-20th century, and talking about them together is not to create a chimera.

City of Salem Historic Buildings map, notes added

Monday, August 27, 2018

Environmental Justice at the MPO Tuesday

The Policy Committee for our local Metropolitan Planning Organization meets tomorrow, Tuesday the 28th, and they'll be getting a refresher on Environmental Justice and Title VI requirements, will consider setting Legislative priorities for the next session, and ratify adopting more Performance Measures that ODOT has set rather than setting them independently at the MPO.

These are mostly just some notes in passing. (See also notes last week on continued intransigence on greenhouse gas assessment.)

On Environmental Justice, even though there is a formal and legal framework, it is more about process and procedure than about outcome, and it is not clear that it's actually very effective. Environmental Justice is another framework we could use for evaluating greenhouse gas emissions - and, indeed, the Federal lawsuit in Eugene may well develop new approaches along this line. But the MPO on its own could still interpret the legal requirements in more charitable and more effective ways rather than in the minimalist, pro forma way we see now.

SKATS currently evades
addressing "adverse environmental effects"
of greenhouse gas emissions

The EJ analysis is not very robust
For next year's Legislative session, the Eugene area MPO submitted a draft of priorities (1-17) for statewide consensus at a state-level organization, and SKATS can get on board with that or can develop its own list. The top of the list is dominated by non-auto mobility. SKATS has been lukewarm, and sometimes even hostile, to this general sense of priority, so it will be interesting to see what they have to say. Probably they will not adopt a concurrence.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

City Council, August 27th - To Buy the old UGM

Council meets on Monday, and there's little in the way of transportation-related issues. There are other topics of interest, of course!

Under Runaway Arts, Saffron Supply, and the UGM
are the bones of old buildings, heavily remodeled.
But also - apartments over retail!
(Salem Library Historic Photos)

Same view today - via Streetview
Bullets only for this one:

Saturday, August 25, 2018

1870s Nesmith Block, Bell Tower Brothel, City Laundry Mystery: Errata and Addenda

A couple of photos posted to social media deserve some comment, and chasing down one of them turned up information about a third. These are mainly just footnotes and some commentary along the way.

The Nesmith Block

Two views of the Nesmith Building, 1870s and 1955
(State Archives FB and Salem Library Historic Photos)

Over on FB State Archives posted an interesting image of old Salem. About the image, which seems to be sourced from State Fair archives, State Archives doesn't have much to say, and they may not in fact know its location:
Our historic image of the day shows Main Street in Salem Oregon circa 1875....

Orrin Atchinson 'Atch' Waller, as O.A. Waller was familiarly known, was the son of Rev. Alvin F. Waller after whom Waller hall at Willamette university was named. Born at Oregon City August 9, 1843, he came to Salem when he was still a boy, and for the space of two generations was prominent in the life of the city.

He was a gunsmith by trade, considered a master in that calling at a time when the use of guns meant gaining the necessaries of life and the protection of it from actual and threatened Indian invasions. In his generation 'Atch' Waller was one of the most popular residents of the capital city. Mr. Waller January 19, 1856, married Mary L. Chamberlain, daughter of a pioneer Methodist missionary. She died March 7, 1924.
We can do better than "Main Street" - which is likely just a generic label, though it could be an earlier name for Commercial Street. (The 1876 Birds Eye map as well as the map in the 1870 Directory both label it "Commercial," not "Main" Street, however, and if there was a name change, it had to have been very early.)

It's pretty clearly an old view of the Nesmith Building on the southwest corner of Ferry and Commercial, currently the Umpqua Bank site across from the Conference Center. At some point the building became known as the Smith Block, and in the 1870s the State Library was in it. In the 1850s the Territorial Legislature met in it, and other state functions were housed in it also over the years. Later the WCTA, Capital Journal, and Oregon Statesman had offices in it. Directly across from the Chemeketa Hotel, it was an important building in Salem history.

via 1870 City Directory
The photo's too fuzzy to read more than the bit on Waller and a second sign that says "Job Printing." The 1870 Directory listed the State Printer in the Griswold Block (one block north on State and Commercial) and didn't list any printers in this building, so it's hard to say who it might be. If the original is better, maybe a better scan will turn up.

Bell Tower Brothel?

via Facebook
This image of the alley by the Book Bin is circulating quite a bit right now and, shoot, there's a significant, though perhaps unintended, error being spread about any Bell Tower Brothel. It's a little pedantic to point this out, but this "telephone game" is a way bad history spreads and grows.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Weekend Fun: Peach Ride on Sunday, Climate Run on Saturday, Santiam's Trail Builder Lounge

August 20th, 1918

The Salem Bicycle Club's Peach of a Century Ride is this weekend, and if you are looking for a fun, but long, ride through the rolling Waldo Hills, the weather looks pretty good - 72 degrees, though a little cloudy also.

Day-of-Ride registration (for $45) starts at 7:30am on Sunday the 26th. (Full description and links to maps and forms here.)
Each route starts and ends at Chemeketa Community College. The Full Century route is challenging with some steep hills. The 75-Mile route also involves a significant of amount climbing. The Metric Century route offers flat to rolling terrain with some moderate hills....The routes follow low-volume roads past the farm fields of the Willamette Valley, through forested foothills and rural communities east of Salem....

There are three rest stops on the 100-Mile route and two on the 66 and 76-Mile routes. All rest stops have food, water, sports drink, restrooms and friendly volunteers. The weather is typically mild to warm in the late fall although we have experienced rain during past events. Bring extra layers just in case. The 100-Mile route goes through Jefferson, Stayton, Sublimity, and Silverton. The Metric Century and 76-Mile routes visit Jefferson and Stayton. All riders must finish by 6:00 p.m. A sag vehicle will sweep both courses at day's end.

On Saturday, there is a run/walk for the environment.
The local climate action group 350 Salem and the youth environmental organization Plant for the Planet enthusiastically invite you to participate in the first 1st Salem Run For The Climate on August 25, 2018 at 9 am in Minto-Brown Island Park. The goal of our 5k walk/run is to bring community members together around the cause of climate change in an entirely new setting, with the hope of creating a positive, family-friendly walk/run through which people can build community and have fun.

Our registration is $25 for adults until July 1st after which adult registration will be $30 per person. Registration for children 12 and under is $10. The race will start at the covered shelter in Minto-Brown. Please arrive early to hear announcements and to pick up your reusable goody bag and raffle ticket.
Finally, last month Santiam Bicycle put in a bar!

Adult Beverages at the Trial Builder Lounge
This is a newish thing for bike shops. Though it regrettably just closed, the bar at Velo Cult in Portland was a real community hub. The Salem Area Trail Alliance has done a couple of events at Santiam, and this is a nice amenity to add to that.

Twilight on the River will light up the Minto Bridge

Willamette Valley Hospice and several other organizations are holding a combo celebration and memorial down in Riverfront Park this evening.
Imagine thousands of luminarias glowing at twilight, each light representing someone who has brought love, laughter and light into our lives – a friend, family member, neighbor, or co-worker. In celebration of Willamette Valley Hospice’s 40th year of caring for neighbors in our community, 24,000 glowing luminarias will honor and remember each of them.
Quite apart from the fact that it is about dying and memory, it is also about light, and beauty, and, well, infrastructure.

It could be one of the very best and most wonderful uses of the Minto Bridge and path system since it opened. Maybe the best full stop.

In addition to ways you might want to remember someone, it's also a candidate for the most creative employment of the bridge, a delightful and moving aesthetic moment in and of itself, and something to consider visiting this evening.

The smoke is supposed to have subsided, the temperatures will have moderated, and it could be a very magical evening.

There is a program at 7pm, and the twilight stroll between 8pm and 9pm.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Hazy Skies and Unsettled Weather at the MPO: Intransigence on Goal 7

On its one year anniversary yesterday, the Eclipse was in the news again.

What if we had still had smoky, crappy air? - via Twitter
But what might we have missed? We were lucky!