Saturday, December 31, 2022

Notice for Court Street at Capitol Mall Lacks Information

Normally Public Notices contain a listing detailed enough to convey a sense of what is being reviewed.

Notice for Court Street at the Capitol Mall

The City this past week published a Notice for Court Street at the Capitol Mall that is pretty darn opaque.

It says only

A Class 3 Site Plan Review for proposed Alternative Street Standards on Court St NE for the Oregon State Capitol Accessibility, Maintenance, and Safety (CAMS III) renovation project, including ADA accessibility, maintenance, and safety improvements for property approximately 11.1 acres in size, zoned PM (Capitol Mall) and PA (Public Amusement), and located at 900 Court Street NE - 97301 (Marion County Assessors Map and Tax Lot Numbers: 073W27AA / 00200 and 00300, and 073W26BB / 04900)....

Failure to raise an issue in writing prior to the close of the Public Comment Period with sufficient specificity to provide the opportunity to respond to the issue, precludes appeal to the Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA) on this issue. A similar failure to raise constitutional issues relating to proposed conditions of approval precludes an action for damages in circuit court....

We are interested in receiving pertinent, factual information such as neighborhood association recommendations and comments of affected property owners or residents.

But the Notice makes it very difficult for anyone other than someone intimately involved in the process to figure out what are the changes. It is as if designed to make "sufficient specificity" and "pertinent, factual information" impossible!

There's no list of the changes or what specifically is involved in the Class 3 Site Plan Review. Basically you already have to know what are the proposed changes.

There are only two high-level and very coarse overview maps. Here is the one with color.

So what are the changes here?

As far as I can tell, there are three, maybe four major changes.

Friday, December 30, 2022

Planning and Talk and not Enough Walk: 2022 in Review

From here the great theme of 2022 has been The Plan.

Two big plans finalized in 2022

The two most significant plans were the formal adoption of a new Comprehensive Plan in the Our Salem process and the "acceptance," not formal adoption, of the Climate Action Plan and subsequent implementation Council subcommittee.

Other important planning documents were the State's rule-making in the Climate Friendly and Equitable Communities process and formulating and voting on the big bond measure.

The conclusions to these four planning and policy processes were central to 2022 and on the reading here furnish the dominant note.

Much of the action on them, the walk following the talk, was deferred. The deferral of course is by design. It will take years to realize most of the changes envisioned in the policy of the plans.

But as we saw in particular with the Climate Action Plan, the City shied away from things it might do more immediately. Though the plans were prudent planning for the future, the words of the plans were too often also a substitute for action.

Big disconnects on Climate

The City keeps saying our emissions "shall be reduced to 50 percent" of the baseline in 2016, but also keeps avoiding doing the big things that will actually make that happen. If we repeat them often enough, the words here, the intentions, are magically supposed to enact the outcome.

Oregonian, November (left) and today (right)

Promise more than actuality, talk more than walk, performative signalling more than substantive action - these seemed to be the dominant note.

Thursday, December 29, 2022

Bits on the History of the Reed Opera House, Spiritualism, and Squatting

One hundred years ago there was a fairly detailed history of the chain of title on the Reed Opera House. It's not the legal description of course, but it must be pretty close. It is interesting as it skates a little over the way the original claim to the land was constituted and the claim's legitimacy. The shifting name for the building is also interesting, and it was not always known as the Reed Opera House.

December 29th, 1922

The piece:

McCormick Block Sold 12 Times Since Patent Issued In Early Days

When the Jason Lee missionaries decided that the land on Mission Bottom was not exactly the right place to build a city, they authorized William H. Willson to enter on 615 acres of land, now the center of Salem, with the understanding that as soon as title was secured, he should lay out a city and sell lots to the early settlers for a small commission.

In November of 1884 [1844?] Willson made formal entry of the 615 acres extending from Mission street on the south to a short distance beyond Division street on the north. When the patent was issued by Abraham Lincoln in 1862, the north half of the tract was patented to Chloe A. Willson and the south half to William H. Willson, following the custom of those days where a section of land was entered by man and wife.

The block on which the McCornack building, hereafter to be known as the Steeves-Moore building, is located is known on the official city plat as block No. 33, extending from Court to State and Commercial and to Liberty street.

On December 10, 1855, this block, along with other property was sold by William H. Willson to Thomas Powell for $1000. Two years later Powell sold the lot on which the south half of the Steeves-Moore building is located for $200. In 1863 the lot on which the building now occupied by Worth & Gray now stands, was sold for $2000. Having purchased the entire block and other property for $1000 Thomas Powell told the corner lot in 1857 to Mortiz Brey for $200. Brey held the lot until 1864 when he sold it to George A. Edes for $300 and three weeks afterwards Edes sold the lot to John L. Starley for $450. Starley held the lot three years and then on May 13, 1867, sold It for $1500 to George W. Gray. Business lots in Salem had advanced 300 per cent in value in the three years.

Gray held the lot about a year and a half and on December 1, 1868, sold the corner to Lucinda Reed for $3500. During the year a building was erected on the lot an on December 2, 1869, it was sold to the Opera Building company for $30,000.

In 1871, the Opera Building company sold the property to John H. Moore. George H. Jones and Stephen Coffin for a consideration of $30,000. The building was then known as the Reed opera house and was the center of all social activities In the early '70s.

Stephen Coffin sold his one third Interest to Cyrus A. Reed in 1876 for $12,800. In 1880, William Reid secured an interest and in 1883, Cyrus A. Reed and Leo Willis became the principal owners of the building that occupied all the corner lot of the block and the north half of the lot adjoining to the south.

M. L. Chamberlain purchased an Interest in the building in 1884 and a short time later sold it to E. P. McCornack. C. A. Reed also in 1892 sold his interest to Mr. McCornack and In the same year Leo Willis and Eugene Willis sold out to Mr. McCornack.

Mr. McCornack died in 1895. His will, dated January 25, 1895, gave the property to his nieces and nephews, and In the settlement of the estate, eight of the twenty-five nieces and nephews, who benefitted by the will, accepted interest in the building.

The history had been occasioned by the sale of the property a week earlier.

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

The Sloper Building on Edgewater: Another old Grocery Store Repurposed

On social media earlier this month a post for a new wine bar in Salem showed an interior with old, exposed beams!

via FB

The paper picked up the story and wrote more about the business today, though not about the building.

In today's paper

An older post showed a building name, one that was unfamiliar.

via FB

Ha, turns out it's another old grocery store.

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

F. Cudworth Flint and other Rhodes Scholars with Salem Connections

You may recall some time ago a question about Rhodes Scholars from Salem. Here are some brief notes on a few.

Oregonian, December 24th, 1922

100 years ago Frank Cudworth Flint was announced as a winner of a special prize, first in the Portland papers and then it was picked up here.

December 26th, 1922

He had a couple of years earlier won the scholarship. He had come to Salem in 1908 and graduated from Salem High in 1914, then attending Willamette for a year before transferring to Reed.

Monday, December 26, 2022

City Reveals Concept for New Public Works Complex

The City's "year in review" slides didn't have much surprise, but one slide was of particular interest here. The slide on the Public Works Shops Complex showed what are, I think, the first concept drawings made public.

Public Works Shops Complex  - City "year in review"

Back in Sept 2020 Council approved a Design-Build bid process. Since then the City has not said much about design. A Salem Reporter piece from a year ago very briefly mentioned that Hacker had been selected, and in notes about the public art selection committee Hacker was mentioned incidentally.

Sunday, December 25, 2022

John Wanamaker, the Department Store, and Rise of Advertising: 100 Years Ago

Earlier this year the giant of local retailing and politics, Gerry Frank, passed away.

100 years ago, a retailing giant even larger passed away. John Wanamaker died on December 12th, 1922.

December 12th, 1922

An editorial focused on standard, public pricing; on advertising; on supply chain and in-house manufacturing; and on merchandising display.

December 12th, 1922

He revolutionized the department store and consumer capitalism.

Here, it has been interesting to see in the papers a relentless focus on training readers to read and trust the ads.

If you wanted an example of a propaganda machine, the professionalization of and media blitz for advertising circa 1920 is perfect.

January 8th, 1919

I first noticed the ads here in 1919.  There are tens of them every year, and well over 100 between 1919 and 1922. With repetition, there might be over 100 each year printed. By 1922, they are clearly coop ads produced by the American Association of Advertising Agencies, founded in 1917.

Saturday, December 24, 2022

Keeping Santa up with the Times: Electrification in 1922

In their Christmas ad 100 years ago, Vick Bros. put Santa in a car. It was not the first time Santa appeared in a car here, but this image, probably originating elsewhere for national use, had particular verve.

December 23rd, 1922

Generally modernizing Christmas gifts was a prominent theme. 

As we think more seriously about electrifying everything, it is interesting to consider the similar push for electrical gadgets and stimulating demand for electricity. Portland Railway, Light & Power Co. pitched "An Electrical Christmas." This was not new in 1922, but with each year there was more of it. Most of the gifts were gendered, for the wife and for easier housekeeping.

December 21st, 1922

Friday, December 23, 2022

Ghost Signs Revealed by the Demolition of the old Union Gospel Mission

You might have seen on a nostalgia FB page a very nice picture of ghost signs revealed by the demolition at the former Union Gospel Mission. (Seeing this, others photographed it also, and several images have seemed to circulate on social media.)

via FB

I could not find much of anything for the Superlub motor oil, which "makes old cars young and young cars gay." I really hope I can find some local advertising for that brand. That's a great slogan!

The soap ad yielded a pretty close match from 1925. It's not exactly the same in every detail, but the terms are nearly all the same. Since the ghost sign doesn't say "without a washing machine," it's probably from a little later when washing machines were more popular. But in the 1930s the ads are very different, so it can't be too much later.

January 27th, 1925

Here's an older shot of the block face before the facades were remodeled. In the upper right corner you can see a different sign, something "Colby," maybe cheese, on the side of a building above the cafe.

Thursday, December 22, 2022

Parking Piece Shies Away from Data

It was nice to see a partial discussion of parking on the front page today.

Front page today

But it skated along the surface a little and did not investigate enough, merely reporting what people say and not asking whether claims are true.

A stronger observation than "the parking issue seems to be more perception than reality" is possible. There is data!

For example, the image for the piece focuses on Chemeketa Street, identified as a bikeway, but it never shows a parking lot or the parking area of a parking structure. This month I have walked through the Chemeketa Parkade twice, and there were many empty stalls.

Downtown is a freakin' swiss cheese of parking lots. This image is a few years old, but the general picture is accurate.

Downtown Surface Parking Lots in Red
Parking Garages in Solid Brick Red
On-street parking stalls not included
click to enlarge (1 mb total, 1874 x 1114 px)

The City also conducts parking counts. The last study I saw was from 2017, and I have not seen the City publish a more recent one. But at that time, the parking structures were only utilized about 50%. Tons of empty stalls! There is likely a newer study and count of utilization.

Our parking garages have had plenty of room

Maybe things have changed. It would be good to know more specifically what are the current utilization rates, and how they have moved in the last decade or so. How has more housing downtown affected parking permits?

In any case, our parking discourse is shifting some, and it may be we will finally build momentum for a better parking policy.

See previous notes here on downtown parking, and of course Strong Towns has lots also on the general case. A newer group, the Parking Reform Network, also has resources. And a book, Parking and the City by Donald Shoup, who originated so many of the insights on parking.

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

In Hit-and-Run Driver kills Person Walking along Madrona near Retirement Home

Very near Hidden Lakes Retirement Home, in a hit-and-run a driver has struck and killed a person on foot.

Madrona at Woodbridge driveway

From Salem Police:

At approximately 5:30 p.m. yesterday evening, December 20, motorists traveling eastbound on Madrona AV west of Commercial ST SE reported an injured woman in the roadway.

Evidence of a crash scene involving the pedestrian and a vehicle was located at Madrona AV and Woodbridge CT, and the Salem Police Traffic Team was called to assume the investigation.

The woman, identified as 74-year-old Linda Louise Wisher, was transported by paramedics to Salem Health where she was pronounced deceased.

The Traffic Team’s preliminary investigation revealed Wisher was walking along the 300 block of Madrona AV, and as she crossed the driveway to an apartment complex, she was struck by a vehicle exiting the property. The victim was dragged several hundred feet where she was found by the motorist. 

The involved vehicle [and driver!] did not remain at the scene.

No further information is being released at this time, as the investigation into the incident continues. Anyone with information is encouraged to call the Traffic Team at 503-588-6171. [link added]

There are multiple apartment complexes here in addition to the retirement home, and it is not exactly clear on which driveway the initial crash occurred. For a body to be dragged "several hundred feet" suggests speeding also. There are several questions and unresolved details in addition to finding the driver.

This post is very likely to be updated

"This Time, It'll Be Different": The Airport Sales Pitch and Uncritical Framing

The coverage on climate in the paper is getting better. Here's the start of piece from last month.

November 2022

The mood of the image, the headline, and the lede conveys a clear sense of peril.

But threading climate into other stories has remained difficult

He said, she said framing

Yesterday's story on the prospect of commercial airport service engages only in he said, she said "balance," and it privileges the sales pitch. It does not try to find out what the truth of the matter might be. Even the section on critique starts with boosting from an esteemed Senator. With that positioning, the climate advocate might seem very fringey and extreme. Who's the weirdo? The rhetoric implies it is not the Senator.

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Driver Strikes and Kills Person in Crosswalk on State and High Downtown

Our pedestrian safety crisis has visited the MPO. A driver struck and killed a person in a downtown crosswalk yesterday afternoon.

It was just below the offices for our Metropolitan Planning Organization, SKATS, on the corner of State and High.

Making a turn, the driver apparently did not yield

According to Salem Reporter, the person killed worked for the Council of Governments, which hosts the MPO.

From January 2020 SKATS TAC

It is a terrible irony that our MPO now must count one of their own in the statistics on fatalities they collect, report, and analyze. 

As they mourn, hopefully they will feel renewed passion for safer infrastructure and for safe travel by those on foot and on bike, more fully acknowledging the costs of our autoism and our dominant frame of free-flow and congestion relief.

From Salem Police:

At approximately 2:30 p.m., Salem Police patrol officers responded to the report of a pedestrian versus vehicle collision today at the intersection of State ST and High ST NE.

The preliminary investigation done by the Salem Police Traffic Team determined a pedestrian, identified as Denise Marie Vandyke, age 54, at the southeast corner of the intersection waited to enter the crosswalk at State ST to travel northbound. The driver of a van was stopped at the intersection for a red light, preparing to turn eastbound onto State ST.

Vandyke entered the crosswalk when the electronic pedestrian control device signaled her to proceed. The driver of the van, Teresa Sue Cook, age 57, turned onto State ST, striking Vandyke who was walking within the marked area.

Vandyke was transported by paramedics to Salem Health where she died from the injuries she received in the collision.

Cook remained on the scene and cooperated with officers.

No arrest has been made or citations issued as the Traffic Team investigation into the collision continues. No further information is available for release at this time.

The intersection reopened at approximately 5:30 p.m. after the scene was processed for the investigation and the roadway cleared.

The paper fully erases the driver in their first story.

Early story erases the driver

By contrast, Salem Reporter is quite clear, and also centers the person killed. Their piece, "Pedestrian killed in downtown Salem remembered as 'great public servant'," starts:

A longtime local government worker died Monday afternoon after a driver struck her as she was crossing the street in downtown Salem.

This post may be updated.

Three of Seven Safe Routes to Schools Applications Look to Win Funding

And some real news!

ODOT announced yesterday the list of recommended projects for the next round of Safe Routes Infrastructure Funding. Three are from Salem, keyed here to the priority list of seven they submitted (with more detail on locations also) back in June:

  • Project No. 3 for a crosswalk, flashing beacons, overhead lighting, and crosswalk visibility enhancements for student at Washington Elementary School. $389,600
  • Project No. 2 for a crosswalk, pedestrian refuge island, overhead lighting, and pedestrian signage for students at Swegle Elementary School. $260,000
  • Project No. 4 for sidewalks, stormwater collection facilities, and ramps for students at Mary Eyre Elementary School. $334,400
ODOT recommends 3 of 7 for funding

Projects near Englewood, Crossler, Morningside, and Grant were not recommended for funding. It looks like average income levels was a very strong factor in the scoring.

More from the ODOT press release:

We are excited to share that the Safe Routes to School Advisory Committee recommends funding 26 projects totaling $32.4 million for ODOT’s Safe Routes to School Competitive Construction Grant Program. These funds will focus on under-resourced communities and safety....

In August 2022, ODOT received 83 applications from across the state for the SRTS Competitive Construction Grant Program totaling $80 million in needed safety improvements. The Safe Routes to School Advisory Committee met on November 17 and approved a recommended project list for the Safe Routes to School Construction Competitive Grant Program for the Oregon Transportation Commission’s consideration at its January 12 meeting.

Monday, December 19, 2022

A Demolition, Two Kinds of Gentrification, and the Dilemma

The other day on Saginaw Street I saw a demolition in progress.

Used to be a house

1394 Saginaw in Nov 2020 (streetview)

It had been a slightly shabby, clipped hip cottage from the very early 20th century. The Assessor's record says c.1910. The owner appears to have died about three years ago, and it was recently sold out of the estate. According to the demolition permit, the new owner plans a fourplex on the site. The house did not appear to have been condemned, so as a slightly shabby rental it might have been a kind lower cost housing. In the 2020 image you can see the plywood behind the front door. Maybe it had been a squat or something, also. The lot was already zoned for apartments, as RM2, and was not changed in the Our Salem process, it should be noted. So this demolition is not anything occasioned by Our Salem or by the State legalizing smallplexes in the new middle housing law. We already had upzoned Sleepy Hollow.

The lot and much of Sleepy Hollow is zoned RM2
(City of Salem Zoning map, from 2020)

So how are we to interpret this?

Saturday, December 17, 2022

"Mauve Decade" and Erasure of the Panic of 1893

The question of how Deepwood has been understood in our history remains interesting. The approach taken by Ben Maxwell in 1956 seems indicative. He had a different go-to metaphor for the 1890s.

October 24th, 1956

He says the home "dates from Mauve decade."

"Mauve decade," 1926

We don't hear that phrase much any more, but it seems to date from the 1926 book on fin de siecle culture in America. On the surface that looks like an author in the "roaring 20s" looked back the "gay 90s" for a positive take on the end of the Gilded Era.

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Cherriots New Long-Range Plan Omits Our Salem and Climate Action Plan

The Board for Cherriots meets on Thursday the 15th and they look formally to adopt the Long Range Plan, lightly revised from the November draft.

Draft Long Range Plan

It is so very strange.

In November at one of the meetings for our Metropolitan Planning Organization, they indicated that the timeline was such that the planning and zoning changes from Our Salem could not be discussed or incorporated into the plan. Neither is Salem's Climate Action Plan discussed.

Our Salem not in Cherriots Long Range Plan
November 8th TAC meeting

The coordination meetings when Cherriots met with the Climate Action Plan Committee in July and when Cherriots met with City Council in September do not seem to have borne much fruit.

Brownsville Bad Boy of 1895 Points to Thinness on Panic of 1893: Peter Boag's Pioneering Death

The hook for Pioneering Death: The Violence of Boyhood in Turn-of-the-Century Oregon, historian Peter Boag's brand new book, is a sensational murder near Brownsville, Oregon in 1895.

Loyd Montomery had shot his parents and a neighbor. It made the Salem papers with regular front-page headlines between November of 1895 and January of 1896.

Nov 20th, 1895 and Jan. 31st, 1896

But the book is much, much more than a "true crime" history. The crime is an occasion for a close reading of Willamette Valley society, economy, and history in several dimensions. Sometimes Montgomery and his crime fade into the background. The main subject of the book is really the context, a layered crisis with micro and macro dimensions, "violence in turn of the century Oregon." In that sense the murder story is turned inside out a little.

Much was collapsing in on John and Elizabeth Montgomery in the 1890s. The political party they had long supported was foundering. John was unable to pay his poll tax on occasion, rendering him unable even to participate in elections from time to time. In addition to facing a depression of enormous dimensions that raged across the countryside, the Montgomerys' personal wealth had diminished to an all-time low....John had hardly lived up to the republican farmer ideal - the yeoman who succeeded in his own endeavors, who became an independent agrarian on his own property and his own merits, and who properly supported his own dependents. In fact, John was himself dependent on a shirttail relative for a roof over his family's head, on a nearby businessman for food on his family's table, and on two of his minor sons to do much of the labor to pay his rent and support his family.

Boag offers readings of several stories over two decades in Willamette Farmer, and also mines the 1878 Historical Atlas Map of Marion & Linn Counties for key details. Governor Lord, father of Elizabeth, makes an appearance as he refuses a request for clemency. George Piper, brother of Edgar Piper, whom we met as the son-in-law to Leo Willis, appears in the interval between sentencing and execution. Salem is not a main player, but Salem connections and Salem things have several bit roles in the book.

Monday, December 12, 2022

LUBA Rejects Appeal on Meyer Farm, Affirms City Decision

Here's some real news. LUBA denied the appeal on the Meyer Farm and affirmed the City's decision.

LUBA decision on Meyer Farm

On "reasonable design alternatives," LUBA says

Intervenor argues, and we agree, that nothing in the express language of SRC 808.035(d)(2) requires an applicant to propose multiple design alternatives to prove that no reasonable design alternative exists. The city's interpretation of SRC 808.035(d)(2), which petitioners do not challenge, is also entitled to deference.

In other parts of the decision, LUBA declines to try to determine what is true, and says mainly that the City has met the requirements for plausibility, that based on the evidence and analysis the City's decision is reasonable.

We conclude that the city council could reach the conclusion it reached based on the record before it.

Where LUBA requires strict adherence to technical details in the law, and where LUBA allows a great deal of discretion and fudge factor is just fascinating. 

In any case, the outcome here is not a surprise. Maybe there will be more to say later, especially if there is further appeal, or if legal minds comment in more detail on LUBA's decision.

See previous notes on the Meyer Farm here.

The Biggest Outstanding Issue is Missing: Climate in Chapter 9 at the MPO

The technical committee for our Metropolitan Planning Organization meets on Tuesday the 13th, and they'll be looking at a draft of Chapter 9, "Outstanding Issues," for the long-range Metropolitan Transportation Plan.

The biggest outstanding issue remains an elephant in the room. From here it looks like the institutional commitment to "consensus" too strongly influences the one chapter where conflict and dissent should be able to flower into expression.

Avoiding talk of GHG

At the very end of the draft there is glancing reference to "Future Regulations," two short paragraphs on the prospect of new Federal rules and on the State's recently issued "Climate Friendly and Equitable Communities" rules.

This should be understood now as wholly inadequate. The biggest outstanding issue is how we are going to have to change our transportation system for climate action! 

And there is dissent. Two members of the MPO, the City of Keizer and Marion County, filed suit to curb and even cancel the Climate Friendly and Equitable Communities rules. Isn't that also a relevant detail?

The plan's horizon is supposed be 2023-2050 or maybe 2023-2043, but whatever year you use as a terminus, over the next 20 or 25 years, climate is going to be a huge outstanding issue, not merely some minor technical point in a regulatory scheme.

The passive and too casual tone threads its way through other discussions.

Saturday, December 10, 2022

Transformation of Shelton Creek to Shelton Ditch was Depression-era Project

What exactly happened in 1934 with Shelton Ditch is for another time, but it is interesting to note that work in the summer, fall, and winter of 1934 was part of the immediate predecessor to the New Deal, a program under the Federal Emergency Relief Administration flowing to the State Emergency Relief Administration. Broadly speaking, Shelton Ditch as we know it today is a Depression-era project. (See yesterday's post for extract from Wendy Kroger's History of Pringle Creek Watershed.)

The 1895 Sanborn map shows the major creeks running into downtown. There is the "stream of mystery," which we have nearly totally lost, but which in flood times has reminded us of its course, and the meandering Shelton Creek, along with a couple of lost branches.

1895 Sanborn shows Shelton Creek
and "stream of mystery"

The USGS maps of 1917 and 1925 show more detail on the braided, distributed network of seasonal creeks between what we now call Mill Creek and Pringle Creek.

1917 and 1925 USGS maps show
distributed system of seasonal streams

Ditching Shelton Creek was a flood control proposal.

September 1928

In 1934 that early Depression-era jobs program, the SERA, funded brush clearing, widening, and straightening of the creek as well as other waterways.

Friday, December 9, 2022

City Council, December 12th - Shelton Ditch

This is it, the last City Council meeting of the year. Council meets on Monday the 12th. There are several annual reviews on the agenda. Probably the one for Police is most important, but others will have more to say on that. Here are some incidental comments on the others.

Shelton Creek? Shelton Ditch? April 13th, 1937

There is a bank stabilization project for Shelton Ditch. Its origin has been a mystery. The first mention in the newspaper may be in 1930, and then in 1934 a canal, as part of a flood control project, was made to connect it with Mill Creek. Then through the rest of the 1930s it appears constantly in the news as a WPA-funded project, with each instance of flooding (as above), and as needing constant maintenance. Before 1934 it does not seem to be continuous. Maybe we'll be able to return to this some time. Wendy Kroger's History of Pringle Creek Watershed summarized many leads, but determined no settled narrative for its origin and development.

On the 1878 Illustrated Atlas Map, Pringle Creek is joined at Church Street by Shelton Ditch and a stream of mystery which split south from the Mill Race, beginning between 12th and 13th, Mill and Trade Streets, flowing north of and roughly parallel to Mill Street until it turned almost 90 degrees south along Church Street, crossing Bellevue. Two earlier writers note this stream. According to landscape architect Elizabeth Lord writing a description of Pringle Park, “...There was Pringle Creek meandering through Bush Pasture, the Shelton Ditch in natural state, very attractive trees on the bank and the third, Mill Creek, all three joining hands under the Church Street bridge...” (Lord 1983)....

Did Shelton Ditch begin as a 1930s Great Depression work project to tame Mill Creek flood waters? Maps show another Shelton Ditch (or Creek) in the mid-1800s coming off Mill Creek east of Airport Road, curving “in natural state, very attractive trees on the bank,” crossing a corner of the Post Office property on 25th, and traveling along Shelton and Mission Streets for several blocks (Chapman 1995). The Depot Addition Historic Landmark Nomination indicated that the ditch was built on an earlier alignment of Turner Road, which was abandoned in 1931.

According to a City of Salem Public Works memo regarding the Shelton Ditch/Winter Street Bridge Flood Mitigation Project, “Shelton Ditch was ‘constructed’ generally along the existing Shelton Creek alignment...” (Lambert 1998). Is South Mill Creek really Pringle Creek, or is it the old Shelton Ditch, or is it the old flume? To complicate matters further, Mill Creek overflows during flood conditions to both the East and Middle forks of Pringle Creek. [link added]

Maybe as part of the forthcoming "Goal 5" inventory, Shelton Ditch will get more attention and we will learn more about its origin and the human interventions that made its current form.

"Shelton street ditch?" Dec. 30th, 1928

The City has started its own "year in review." Later this month in the blog's year in review post, we'll engage that in more detail. The City's document is primarily an exercise in PR, and is rather uncritical.

It leads with street art and a new city flag. Which are neat and all, but are not the most substantive of accomplishments for the City.

Further in there is a slide on the Council subcommittee on the Climate Action Plan, but it focuses on proceduralism, the mere existence of the committee, and not any decisions they made or actual progress on reducing emissions.

Signalling only? Or action?

Though it's probably just an innocent mistake, on the very final slide Councilor Leung was omitted and her successor, who won't be sworn in until January, and had nothing to do with 2022 accomplishments on Council, included.

Councilor Leung is erased by accident

Together these suggest the document was not fully baked. The impulse to publish a review is a good one, but the document published here needed more thought, more editorial review, and more self-awareness about the weights of things and about actual accomplishments. It should be more self-critical, not just boosting.

Thursday, December 8, 2022

Astoria Burned Down in 1922

Exactly 100 years ago Astoria's downtown completely burned up. It dominated the afternoon paper here.

December 8th, 1922

At this time, in many ways Astoria could be considered the second city in Oregon. It had a higher average wage than Portland, and it had a larger business sector than Salem or Eugene.

Astoria bigger than Salem
December 24th, 1921

The morning paper's first report underlined relief efforts.

December 9th, 1922

The afternoon headline the next day focused on speculation over cause.