Friday, July 31, 2020

Driver Strikes and Kills Mrs. Denison during Elks Convention in 1920

The Elks Club held their annual state convention in Salem in 1920, and "thousands" of visitors came to the city. Over the weekend downtown streets were crowded and several drivers crashed into people on foot. On person died, and the case suggests shifting attitudes in normalizing autoism. Streets were for cars.

July 22nd, 1920 focused on Elks convention

July 23rd, 1920
The first stories are clear about the crowded streets and suggest an aggressive driver. From July 23rd, 1920
Right-of-Way Is Taken [on] Crowded Street, One Dead

Mrs. E. K. Denison [E. E. Denison, I believe], age 71, is dead and her husband seriously injured as the aftermath of a convention crowd accident at the corner of State and Commercial streets, Thursday night. Mr. and Mrs. Denison [were] in a group of pedestrians passing along Commercial street and were caught by a car driven by G. W. Wineland, of 1041 South 13th street.

Witnesses of the mishap asserted that Wineland's car had spurted up to about 12 to 15 miles per hour in an attempt to get the right-of-way from Dr. D. X. Beechler, who was approaching from the north on Commercial street. In order to avoid a collision with Wineland's car, Dr. Beechler "killed" his engine and permitted the car to pass. Witnesses stated that Mr. Wineland's attention was drawn to the Beechler car and that he did not see Mr. and Mrs. Denison until his machine was upon them.

That Wineland had absolutely no right to take the right-of-way from Dr. Beechler and to proceed in such a head-long fashion is the opinion of Chief Welsh and others who witnessed the accident. Wineland was not arrested.

In an effort to avert the disaster, Wineland threw on all brakes and stopped within the length of his own car. After the accident, Mr. Wineland left his machine, but according to statements made by him to Chief of Police J. T. Welsh, did not leave the scene as reported but assisted in conveying Mrs. Denison to the hospital, where she died within a short time. The car had passed over the aged woman's head and chest, death being pronounced as due to concussion of the brain.

Mr. Denison. who suffered painful hip injuries [,] was taken to a hospital by Dr. B. F. Pound and Chief Welsh. As usual with large crowds, much thoughtlessness was displayed, the hundreds of curious crowding upon the injured people and interfering with the efforts of those who were administering to the aged couple....

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Ponzi Enterprise Collapses, Gives Birth to "Ponzi Scheme": 100 Years Ago

Here's an interesting diversion. 100 years ago the empire of Charles Ponzi began to unravel and his name appears in the paper for the first time locally.

The very first story was published in Salem on July 29th, 1920. Interestingly, only the morning paper, the Statesman, published stories and the Capital Journal was silent in the afternoon, even after the story blew up the next day. They finally picked up the story on August 2nd.

That first story on July 29th is flat and neutral: "The accounts of Charles Ponzi, dealer in international postal coupons, who has obtained several million of dollars from the public on his promise to pay 50 per cent profits, will be audited by county and federal authorities."

July 30th, 1920
By the next day, the stories about the "stamp juggler" were far more lively. From July 30th:

Italian Millionaire Stamp
Juggler Tells Pressmen
New York Banker Wants to
Buy His Business


New York Postmaster States
That Such Fortune in
Stamps Impossible

BOSTON. July 29. A New York banker offered him $10,000,000 today for his business, according to a statement Ponzi made to newspapermen tonight. He added that he had not decided whether to accept but would hold another conference with the banker.

Ponzi added that he intended to resume his operations In Boston and other cities where he has branch offices when the district attorney's auditors have completed their investigation, if he did not accept the banker's offer.

He [said] he had been informed by his secretary that he had paid out to customers today about $250,000.

The three-day run on the coffers of Charles Ponzi by doubling investors ia his quick-rich scheme of international postal exchange, continued today while new believers in the possibility of abnormal profit took their money to a rival a few blocks away.

Ponzi, having agreed with District Attorney Pelletier to accept no further deposits until investigation of his accounts had been made, stood in his enlarged offices and saw every thing going out, with no new funds coming in; but although payments in the last two days are estimated to have exceeded a million dollars, he was honoring every demand.

NEW YORK, July 29. Postmaster Patten today declared that the entire world's supply of international postal coupons is not large enough to enable any person to accumulate the fortune which Charles Ponzi, the Boston financier [,] is said to have made through coupon transactions and foreign exchange.

In order to make $8,000,000, the sum which Ponzi is credited with having realized from his operations, 160,000,000 coupons would have been required, according to Postmaster Patten.

"To have made his money in these coupons would have oeen impossible," said Mr. Patten, "for the reason that enough have not [been] printed to permit it. There are not enough coupons In the world. Here In New York we keep not more than 27,000 on hand, the demand for them is so small."

The records of the New York post office, Mr. Patten explained, show that only $370.50 was paid to redeem coupons during the three months ending June 30 and only $360 worth of coupons were sold here during that period.
After nearly daily updates on the developing story, by the middle of August authorities had arrested Ponzi. We all know how the story ends!

August 13th, 1920

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

On Climate: Maybe Stop Digging First? At the MPO

Our local Metropolitan Planning Organization meets today, Tuesday the 28th, and they'll be discussing prospective greenhouse gas reduction rules coming from the State.

Agenda item on GHG reduction rule-making
One of the questions is about staging order and phasing.

Five (or six?) concepts for GHG reduction rulemaking
There are several wrinkles in play, and I have not followed this part of the analysis or debate, and so it is hard to have a firm opinion.

But at a more intuitive, if perhaps superficial, level, it seems like we should apply the old bromide: "If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging."

Monday, July 27, 2020

City Poised to Oversize Broadway at Pine Street; Engineer offers Counter

A neighborhood advocate and professional traffic engineer is circulating a critique of the City's plan for Broadway at Pine Street NE.

Josey's at Pine and Broadway
Originally an early 1960s A&B Drive-in (2012)
The concerns are not new, unfortunately. The Highland Neighborhood has been asking about the design of this segment since at least the summer of 2017. With the context of the project a 4/3 safety conversion on the Broadway corridor, they wondered why this particular section was staying in a four lane and less safe configuration.

Broadway here at Pine is four travel lanes
Josey's driveway on right
You might remember Gary Obery from the 2010 Smart Cycling Classes and or know him from Salem Bike Boulevard Advocates. He's also a traffic engineer. While Obery approaches the problem of Broadway at Pine especially through the lens of crosswalk length and safety for people on foot, the City's proposed design also illustrates the systemic misalignment of our street planning with goals on improving all kinds of non-auto travel and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Our City road engineering and design practices still are too often stuck in the past century, prioritizing auto capacity and its pollution, and are not catching up with the exigencies of our climate emergency. We could be anticipating a Climate Action Plan instead of bulldozing forward with antiquated 20th century style plans.

The larger corridor project in the 2021 CIP:
"one through lane in each direction
with center turn lanes and bike lanes"
As with the zone change on Hickory, Pine Street here was part of the SRC bridgehead, and there are reasons to be suspicious of the widening on that account also. (This note from 2012 shows earlier SRC concepts that definitely included the intersection itself.)

Friday, July 24, 2020

City Council, July 27th - Urban Trails Plan Grant Application

Council convenes on Monday, and they will consider supporting the grant application to fund an Urban Trails Plan.

But as important as local items are, just now there's a national crisis with a nascent secret police and an escalation of incipient Fascism and Authoritarianism.

Yesterday front page in DC
These are events of national significance
It's not just about rowdy BLM protests and vandalism in Portland, but is about kidnapping and secret police going out to multiple American cities, targeting American citizens, and subverting the Constitution. A couple of days ago Senator Wyden spoke ominously about "fascist practices I never thought I'd see on American soil...If the line isn’t drawn in the sand right now, America will be staring down the barrel of martial law for months to come."

That's far outside our usual scope here, but it's even more urgent now to consider national politics.

The trail system as envisioned in 1999
(black circled segments of particular interest)

Back to Council, about the Urban Trails Plan, see the note on it at the Planning Commission. Travel Salem and the local Safe Routes to Schools team have also endorsed it.

Monday, July 20, 2020

Proposed Urban Trails Plan at Planning Commission

After sitting out a few years, the City is looking to submit a TGM application for an Urban Trails Plan. On Tuesday the 21st the Planning Commission will consider whether formally to support it with a letter.

From the City's memo to the Planning Commission:
The Public Works Department is preparing to apply for a grant to develop an Urban Trails Implementation Plan for the City of Salem. We are seeking a letter of support for our application from the Salem Planning Commission....

Urban Trails Implementation Plan—Summary of Proposed Project
Public outreach has consistently identified urban trails as a priority in Salem. The City of Salem has adopted plans that call for a significant network of future off-street trails. Off-street paths are included in both the Salem Transportation System Plan and the Comprehensive Parks System Master Plan. A recent code amendment (SRC 800.065(4)) increased the City's ability to require connections to existing or planned paths and trails. This new code language has drawn attention to the need for more clarity in the hierarchy of trails, appropriate design standards, and guidelines for trail alignments. Action items include: differentiating between classifications of trails, similar to the classification of roadways; developing design standards; establishing implementation guidance; and possibly refining code language to support development requirements. The goal is to have a unified urban trail plan with clear priorities and a path toward implementation.
If you read here regularly, you'll know about deep mixed feelings on trails and paths.
  1. Too often they are offered not as a complement to a complete set of on-street bikeways, but are conceived as a substitute for street connectivity, and function as pedestrian and bicycle displacement systems: To get people on foot and on bike out of the way for zooming cars.
  2. Since we have made little headway on housing and homelessless, paths attract camping. Most campers are not threats, but some campers are aggressive, hostile, and criminal. These can make paths unusable or unsafe. Cars are problematic, but other drivers are eyes and ears; paths are sometimes very isolated especially in the dark and in winter and lack eyes and ears.
  3. Maintenance is often not a priority, and unless the creation of new paths has ongoing operational budget attached, brush trimming, sweeping, and pavement maintenance is a problem.
via Twitter
Still, paths can offer pleasant connectivity that wide streets cannot.

Saturday, July 18, 2020

ODOT Asks for Zoning Change near former SRC Site - Updated

The City's published a Hearing Notice for a zoning change on a block immediately adjacent to the proposed SRC eastside bridgehead. The applicant is ODOT and their agent is the Angelo Group, who was an SRC consultant.

The SRC was proposed to use Hickory and Pine here.
Innocent or nefarious? Hard to say, but it will be very interesting to read the full Staff Report when it is published and to learn more about the proposal.

SRC in blue and bridgehead footprint (and changes) in grey,
lots proposed to be rezoned in red
(Description of Preferred Alternative, January 2019)
But even aside from any possible entanglement with a zombie SRC is the fact that it would be a subtraction of land zoned for apartment housing, and therefore the proposal deserves extra scrutiny, since we have a shortage of that according to the Housing Needs Analysis.

More to say later.

Update, July 28th

The Staff Report is out, and it is one after another instance of "Staff does not concur" for Findings. They recommend denial.

A strong recommendation for denial across the board
In this case, the obvious analysis is in the Staff Report, and it does not seem necessary or very interesting to drill into it.

Friday, July 17, 2020

City signs onto Crypto-NIMBYism from League of Oregon Cities

I'm not sure how far to dive into this right now, but Michael Andersen of Sightline, whom you might have seen quoted in the recent Salem Reporter piece on the German Baptist Church project in Grant Neighborhood, earlier this week shared notes he made on comment offered by the League of Oregon Cities, and cosigned by the City of Salem, on the rule-making for HB 2001 on housing choice and missing middle housing.

"revisit...current approach" or maintain exclusionary policies?
Scholia from Sightline's Andersen on LOC letter
that Salem signed onto
The State is trying to make it easier to site and build more abundant middle housing, and the City has endorsed efforts to make that more difficult. The City is participating in the League's attempt to drape and retard the effort with a kind of "city's rights" argument, saying that the State should not preempt local regulation.

If the City had shown they could actually make progress on this, the argument for subsidiarity might be proper. But the underlying desire is for more exlusionary zoning and exclusionary neighborhoods. It's "don't tell me what to do, because I don't want to do it."

The letter follows from this statement
of Legislative "policy statements"
(at Council last Monday)
At the City of Salem, opposition to preemption in general have been in Legislative policy statements for a while, so it's not like this is something totally novel or unexpected. But it is something that deserves more discussion. If we are serious about climate, if we are serious about anti-racism, if we are serious about more housing and better housing affordability, why are we offering static and resistance to the State's rulemaking effort for more and easier middle housing?

Why do we not lead with values instead of leading with self-interested bureaucratic process as if bureaucracy itself was the end? The end is fairer housing, and since local self-determination and home rule has failed to bring this about, we have the State intervening. The City should welcome the State's clarity.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Intro to Biking Class, Woodmansee Park Update, Councilor as Cidermaker - Bits

via SBC
The Salem Bicycle Club is offering a "basic bicycling class" on Sunday August 2nd. If you just got your bike out of the garage in the Pandemic and want to commute or bike more, this class is for you! It's free, but registration is required.

Woodmansee Park

Existing Conditions at Woodmansee Park
The City announced an update for the master plan for Woodmansee Park. It's linked to the project for upgrading water storage in the fractured basalt far below ground. They've got an online Open House and survey.

Maybe we'll get an update on the Safe Routes project from a year ago. There was a grant to improve access to the park, but the thing just disappeared, and there has been no public update.

A year ago, past event, via Facebook
Safe Routes and the MWVCOG is also advertising for a part-time assistant:
The SRTS Program Assistant works under the direction of the SRTS Coordinator and may act as lead instructor in the absence of the Coordinator. This is a part-time, non-exempt position. Weekly hours will vary dependent on outreach activities and event opportunities and workload demands, as determined by the SRTS Coordinator. Maximum hours are expected to be ten (10) hours per week, although some weeks may have zero (0) hours.
See the full job notice all the details

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Power and Wealth at Bush Park and Deepwood: A Cultural Landscape Plan at the HLC

The Historic Landmarks Commission convenes on Thursday the 16th and they've got an unusually meaty agenda.

The most interesting item on it is the outline and work plan for a Cultural Landscape Management Plan for Bush Park and Deepwood. Beyond the practical aims of a management plan for the two parks and associated houses, it will be a chance at a deep dive on urban ecology, geography, and history. Beyond setting policy, it could be fascinating! The area is such a layered mash-up. Indeed, collage might be one of the best ways to look at it.

Oaks and Camas in Bush Park, a Kalapuya legacy,
 the second week of April 2014
There are two major Oak groves, one of them with Camas, and these have direct and indirect links to First Peoples and their own technology of pyroculture. These were never "natural" and already depended on human intervention.

Not far away, the Lord & Schryver formal garden at Deepwood
via Oregon Encyclopedia &
Univesrity of Oregon, 2010_VRC_06197
Less than a block away, just across a creek bed, is a European formal garden, with its roots in early modern fortifications.

That juxtaposition is a little amazing, really.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

City Council, July 13th - To Rename Center Street

Council meets on Monday, and they have history on the mind. In addition to the Historic Preservation Plan, they will moot Councilor Hoy's suggestion to rename Center Street to honor Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Center Street is much earlier than Asylum Avenue
and was already part of the earliest grid naming
Marion & Linn County atlas, 1878
Based on the first tranche of public comment, it seems likely that this is a concept that needs more discussion. Rather than snapping into focus with a consensus, several writers propose alternatives, each heading off into a different direction.

Advocating at the Capitol, February 3rd, 1919
Some of the suggested alternatives stress a local figure rather than national one. One person on social media suggested Beatrice Cannady, for example. I do not read the alternate suggestions as any kind of delaying sentiment, especially at this early stage of a proposal, but as offered in good faith. There is also no comment from our local NCAAP chapter or Oregon Black Pioneers, and a successful renaming proposal would be sure to have their endorsement and participation.

Altogether, it is not clear the proposal is fully mature, and there may be benefit from a wider community conversation about whom to honor and how to honor.

Friday, July 10, 2020

Incumbency Privilege in the Historic Preservation Plan at Council Monday

From a narrow standpoint, it looks like there is still a path forward on the adaptive reuse of the 1928 German Baptist Church in the Grant Neighborhood. The Neighborhood Association has been signalling that a plan for rezoning with a multi-family designation would be acceptable in a way that rezoning with a commercial office designation was not. So there is a real possibility still for the building to be preserved and affordable housing to be created.*

The cover of the new Historic Preservation Plan
features Grant Neighborhood
The Neighborhood objections, then, are not "full NIMBY," and it's important to stress that they appear to be offering a way forward they see as a compromise offered in good faith. The Neighborhood does not deserve the full weight of censure and criticism and we should not go all scorched earth on them.

But there is still a partial NIMBY sentiment, something a little coded, and with the Historic Preservation Plan at Council on Monday, which features a cover with the Grant Neighborhood, our whole framework of what we deem worth preserving, and how we think about it, in both formally designated historic districts and in other neighborhoods needs a more searching analysis. The way we talk about protecting historic resources is a little screwed up. By focusing too much on incumbency privilege, too often we subordinate preservation as a means to exclusionary ends.

"Economic, social, and demographic characteristics have not meaningfully changed"

In the letter from the Grant Neighborhood Association objecting to the German Baptist Church proposal was something that we have seen elsewhere and we will see in the future again.** It is a common appeal and style of defense. The ease with which we resort to this should probably make us a little uncomfortable.

We have not grappled with the exclusionary intent:
"properties whose economic, social, and demographic
characteristics have not meaningfully changed"
- and should not change, by implication
In that letter opposing funding, the Neighborhood Association talks about "rich history" and needing "protection" against "chipping away at its character."

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Back-in Parking Valued in 1920, and Free Bike Repair - Bits

July 8th, 1920
Back in 1920, some "Salem autoists" preferred back-in angle parking as safer.
[A]t present a car while starting is moving in the same direction as are other autos...Drivers of machines traveling along the street will never know when a car is going to back out.
Here is it is on State Street in the early 1920s.

State Street circa 1920-1925: two-way travel,
back-in angle parking, streetcar in the middle
(unknown postcard source - via Strong Towns group)
July 20th, 1920
Photos dated to about 1930 show head-in angle parking, so some time in the decade it changed.

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Climate and the Neighborhood Hub Survey

The headline in the paper today is soothing: "It's coolest and wettest" start to summer, "what an Oregon summer is suppose to feel like." That frame is used for a discussion of our prospects for forest fires.

Front page today

Wash. Post
July 4th
But elsewhere in the world, things are not so reassuring.

The frame of our start to summer being "middle of the pack" is accurate so far as it goes, but that context erases the question whether it is appropriate any more to measure "average" with a retrospective look.

There is, instead, evidence that we have to think of a moving average, and that any average calculated from values in previous decades is not predictive. It is true in the sense that it is an accurate mathematical calculation of average, but not true in the sense of probability for the future and for creating expectation. There is tension between a mathematical and psychological understanding of average here.

It seems wrong, then, to stress the comfort and familiarity, the reassuring dullness of an "average" temperature range and amount of rain.

It is likely that this is not a reversion to "normal" but is in fact a new abnormal.

Register-Guard, June 25th
In light of this, I wonder about the newest survey on Neighborhood Hubs that the City has sent out.

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Erasing and Excluding: Public History and Public Art in Salem

The Sunday paper has a nice bundle of commentary on public history. Disggregated online, it might get lost, but in print it has more weight and together they have even a kind of dialog with each other. The paper's worth reading!

Too much "empire," not enough democracy
Before the vandalism, Library of Congress
The commentary may seem academic, and at the Capitol in particular just about dumb and wanton vandalism, to which the only proper response is repudiation and condemnation, but public art also reflects the ways we see ourselves and instantiates our values, and these have on-going consequences for current policy and politics. In the vandalism, in addition to the vulgar and gratuitous marks, the words "empire takes" were sprayed over in the motto, and there is a real critique in that gesture.

Laments about vandalism at the Capitol
erase costs of "Empire building"
On a different sculpture celebrating pioneer heritage, back a lifetime ago when we were selecting a statue in place of the rejected nude, the sculptor himself put exclusionary definitions behind "real Westerners" and "true Americans."

Friday, July 3, 2020

As Commercial Hall, old Central School was briefly Hub for Socialism in Salem

Commercial Hall, formerly Central School,
September 2nd, 1912
Here's an unexpected turn in the history of the old Central School. R. R. Ryan, who had apparently purchased and moved the building, was a Civil War Veteran, a Granger, and a Socialist. He seems to have been at the center of a small Socialist scene that thrived here up to the conservative reaction and red-baiting associated with the first World War.

Oregon Daily Journal, October 6th, 1920
Ryan died in 1926, and his political activity seems to have been lost, erased by design or forgot by convenience. His life deserves more research and attention!

This is another scrapbook post, as there is not enough information yet to stitch a very detailed narrative.

Oregonian, March 26th, 1902
Ryan ran for governor in 1902. It's not entirely clear how serious of a candidate he was. In March, Salem Socialists felt he was too aggressive and asked him to withdraw, but he refused. It made the Portland paper.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

With New High School, Big Central School was Moved in 1906 - Updated

(See addendum below for several corrections!)

The School Board has been in the news, and some of the reasons stretch way back to the start of our public school system.

Central School from the Barrick Funeral Home postcards
Salem Library Historic Photos (note the updated website!)
You might remember that Lucy Rose Mallory was a teacher and the Bush House and Museum was going to do more research on the first schools, especially Little Central School. From the Oregon Encyclopedia:
School-age children in Salem in the 1850s had only one public school to attend: the Old Log Schoolhouse on the corner of Marion and Commercial Streets. The school required tuition of from four to five dollars per child each term (from late September to March) to pay for maintenance. Black students were not allowed to attend....

African American artist William P. Johnson had offered in 1861 a scholarship of $500 to one of the schools to allow his daughter-in-law to enroll, but his offer had been rejected. By March 1867, he had collected enough funds from friends and other black families in Salem to open a school with about eight students and possibly some young adults. With $430.75 in hand, he rented a room for $10 a month and engaged a teacher to conduct classes....

The Colored School had completed one six-month term when in 1868 the Salem School District opened Little Central School, a $1,500, one-story, two-room structure at the southeast corner of High and Marion Streets. The school was designated for the education of African American students and was adjacent to the larger Central School, where white students attended. The first recorded teachers at Little Central were Lucy Mallory and Marie E. Smith. The Colored School remained at this location until the end of the 1871 school year, when the school was discontinued.
Little Central School probably
(OSL - but their photo site is broken - via Salem Reporter)
It's good Bush House will be doing more research, because the existing materials are not very detailed or always very certain.