Friday, March 9, 2012

From Highland to Hooverville: A Well-Wrought or Rotten Rivercrossing?

Old drive-ins pose kindof interesting questions. On the one hand, as they reach 50 years of age, the mid-century architecture represents a distinctive style and phase in land use and development history.

On the other hand, yeah: cars.

Lots of empty space devoted to a ritual obeisance to autos, autoism, and food. I don't know if our nostalgia for the 50s and 60s should trump the wasted space they represent. But it's also unwise to bulldoze over our history; today's Mid-century Modern and Atomic Googie was yesterday's Queen Anne, Stick Style, and over-the-top Victorian. Still, the magic is in the streetcar neighborhoods and commercial centers from the early 20th century, not so much in post-war and car-centric suburbanism.

This drive-in, located on the corner of Pine and Broadway NE was built in the early 1960s as the A&B Drive-in. By 1980 it was a Speedy Burger, and now it's Josey's. I imagine it was a bunch of other things, too.

Along with much older properties, it is the kind of building potentially impacted by the Rivercrossing. I'll return to this in additional explorations - this was mostly unplanned and a side product of checking out the Maple/Winter bikeway. But it's worth spending more time on.

There will be real costs to building a ginormous highway and bridge through town, and we cannot minimize the impacts. Other cities are taking out highways - so why are we talking about putting one in?

Will new connections be wrought? Or will it rot a neighborhood?

Here are three maps of the Highland neighborhood. A 3D rendering, a 2D map with the footprint in yellow, and the new bike routes. They aren't to the same scale, but are mostly oriented the same way, a quarter turn to the right, so north is on the right.

Much of the neighborhood is still gridded and it developed mostly between the wars, at the end of the streetcar era. The Parkway, Portland Road, and the two railroads interrupt the grid and are significant barriers.

A highway approach to a large bridge would exacerbate the problems of barriers.

Here's a cut-through at Spruce and Maple. (The intersection of Highland and Church might have been more interesting!) Is it fair to the neighborhood to pile another highway onto the disruption created by the railroad?

Anyway, it was beautiful yesterday evening, and I hadn't been through the neighborhood to see the signs on the Winter/Maple bikeway (in red on the bikeway map). Here's a cut-through along Maple at Biller to Salem Industrial Drive - soon to be known as Auto Group Avenue.

At Maple and Highland is a lovely house.

Off to the right at the other end of the block, and with some whackadoodle mansarded thing, is possibly the most significant house in the neighborhood.

Believe it or not, this was Herbert Hoover's childhood home when he lived in Salem! Virginia Green has written some about it in her timeline of Salem history. You can see an old view with the original roof here.

Almost every block in the neighborhood has one or more old houses. Here are two just off of the Maple bikeway. A modest turn-of-the century farmhouse.

Here's one that's had some remodeling, but its bones are old.

Back on the bikeway, this is one of my wacky favorites! It's an old farmhouse with a mid-century storefront addition! It's also at an intersection with character, Norway, Cottage, and Fairgrounds.

And here's the backside of the Jason Lee church.

Except for the church, these aren't really highlights of the neighborhood. But they are real, they have value, and we shouldn't want to demolish them or ruin the fabric of the neighborhood lightly.

(Here are more of the interesting "local landmarks" in the Highland neighborhood.)


Jim Scheppke said...

Can you explain the headline for this post? It's inscrutable! As for the post, who wants to bulldoze Josey's? I have heard it was (under a different name) Salem's first drive in. Is that true? If so it is an important historic building that should be preserved. They also serve killer breakfasts at this place -- probably the best corned beef hash in town and a chicken fried steak that falls off the edge of the plate. Yum!

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Busted! It's true: I struggle with headlines.

But really, even if it's awkward, the sense isn't clear? Shoot! I contend a bridge this big will rot the Highland neighborhood and risk turning it into a Hooverville - ironic, since he lived here! (Here's a piece on the ways highways like this harm neighborhoods and decrease property values.)

The 4th graf has the name of the drive-in, A&B!

The site and building is potentially impacted by the bridge, and if you look at the yellow footprint on the second map, you can see the corner of Pine and Broadway in yellow. We will know more about the specific impacts once the Draft Environmental Impact Statement is out.

Probably the most noteworthy building at risk is the circa 1858 Harritt House, which is on the National Register. There are several other older homes and buildings in West Salem and in the Highland neighborhood that will also likely be at risk.

Thanks for stopping by!

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Here is a brief summary of the bridge project with links to the official faq and to the on-going series of posts here on this blog. That page will be updated periodically so that it offers an easy-to-grasp summary of the bridge, why it matters, and the outstanding issues.