|Names for the alleys?|
This could be "Electric Alley"
1. Electric Alley
2. Pastoral Alley
4. Spirited Alley
7. Sun Alley
8b. Peppermint Flats Alley
|Should we name our alleys? |
(via CANDO, comment added)
|Already old, April 24th, 1919|
Earlier usage confirms the singular, "flat," and underscores that it was a block for brothels, gambling, and drugs. It was our district for Vice! Gold Rush towns have often leveraged their red-light districts for tourism, and we might embrace this. But we should not offer a version of it that's completely sanitized and neutered. I know, tragedy+time =comedy. But still, it's not just a Disneyfied red-light district full of beautiful whores with hearts of gold. There were real people involved, many of them struggling.
|There was great sadness also|
July 20th, 1900
|November 14th, 1894|
|March 2nd, 1905|
|Opening of the Electric Building, September 21st, 1917|
(The building's plaque says 1920, but we can date it to 1917.)
Just generally it is not clear these names were historically attached to the area of a specific alley, and it might be stretching things to claim that the alleys themselves had these specific names. In my readings of the newspaper during the streetcar era, alley names have not jumped out as significant. That's not to say they didn't exist, but it is to say they were not prominent if they existed at this time. It may be that names coalesced later in the interwar period as autoism came to prevail. If so, were people on foot at this time pushed to the alley? Or were they celebrated in the alleys? There might be interesting transportation history here in addition to any referential significance of the names themselves.
As for new names, alley 5 was the site of the Bell Tower, the fire bell, and that certainly was a significant place for Salemites. "Bell Tower alley" rings the right note! (Have to think more about the others. And while we're on the topic of reviving historical place names, consider "sleepy hollow"!)
Hopefully the Main Street group will publish more on why they think these names are appropriate. There is the potential for interesting history here. And really, it would be great to have a set of more particular downtown place names that have at least some basis in history. That would be a meaningful enrichment to the urban fabric. But it would also be nice for them to be more than nostalgic confections, and to have more than a fanciful relation to the actual past. Better documentation will help secure their place in our history. This could be an exciting project for better downtown history and extra juice for tourism and other downtown visits.