Tuesday, December 2, 2014

A Postscript on Catastrophe, History, and the Third Bridge

The Dye House right next to the big factory building for the Woolen Mill will be a great place to consider questions about the Third Bridge on Wednesday.

The first mill burned down in 1895
Here it is circa 1889 during construction
(image via Writerquake)
Dec. 16th, 1895
In an irony not perhaps considered by organizers and planners, it is significant that the first mill structure completely burned down in 1895.

It was rebuilt in brick instead of wood.

Walter D. Pugh, who was both a builder and architect, and who was responsible for Old City Hall and the Grand Theater, as well as many buildings we have lost, was engaged for the second mill structure.

The catastrophe of fire should remind us that we face another catastrophe.

A seismic retrofit of our existing bridges will be a lot cheaper than a new bridge, and when the big earthquake literally shakes everything to the foundations, as we know it will, wouldn't we be thankful for functional Center and Marion Street bridges instead of piles of rubble?

Additionally, both of the mill buildings used water power, and the Dye House setting, so close to the Mill Race, is also a fine place to consider technological and social change.

The second mill, still standing today, circa 1900
(image via Oregon State Library)
Bridge planners like think that mid-20th century patterns of autoism will continue into the 21st century, but we're already seeing change as Millennials drive less and get cars later than their parents, and smart phone technology, like what is being used for Uber and other ride-sharing applications, will offer yet more change.

The old assumptions won't work in the future. The whole mill complex testifies powerfully to this.

Autoist-in-Chief  Eisenhower at a Traffic Safety Conference, 1954
Part of work leading to the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956
(image via Eisenhower Presidential Library)
It should be a great place to ponder whether best practices from the 1950s are what Salemites will most likely need as we head towards the 2050s.

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