Saturday, October 31, 2009
A few photos of "Triad", a modern (circa 1980) steel sculpture plunked down in the middle of Laurelhurst Park. I'm not sure it fits the site all that well, but taken on its own it's ok. It's about the right size, and doesn't overpower the landscape the way some do (*cough* rusting chunks *cough*). The Smithsonian art inventory page for it is here. Not a lot else about it on the 'tubes, although I ran across a photo + brief mention of it in a back issue of the Multnomah Bible College student newspaper.
I'm not totally sure of this, but it sounds like the sculptor later went on to be a co-owner of Portland's Papa Haydn restaurant.
I took these during the same expedition where I also took photos of a visiting heron, and various mostly infrared photos of the pond area. So that was a productive day. And even better, a sunny one, and I got a few IR and UV photos of the sculpture, for a little variety. I sure do miss the sun... I still almost remember what it looked like, vaguely...
Posted by brx0 _ at 2:14 AM
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So now we've come to the last milestone that I know of, and it's a mysterious one. Like the "other" P7 I mentioned the other day, this one's located in Southwest Portland. It's on Spring Garden Road, between two houses, just east of the intersection with 17th Ave. South side of the street, between the first and second houses east of 17th. The Stark Street Mile Markers mini-blog makes no mention of it, and I only learned of it when I ran across photos of it on Flickr. Beyond that, I know nothing definite about it. It's a stone or possibly concrete post with the number 5 on it, that much is certain. I assume the "5" represents distance (though we don't know even that for a fact), and I assume that's distance in miles to somewhere, and I assume that somewhere is probably downtown Portland -- although there's no 'P' this time to indicate that. It's not clear what route they're measuring it along, though. The "5" is sort of near both Barbur/99W and Taylor's Ferry, and Capitol Highway isn't far to the west. But I don't know that any of them ever ran along this exact route. I could be wrong. I don't have a handy source of authoritative info on that. If there was somewhere on the net that had historical maps of the area at various times, that would be ideal. But if it exists, I haven't run across it yet.
The milestone is clearly of newer vintage than the others. It most closely resembles the mileposts on the Columbia River Highway, which went in circa 1914. Although they could easily be decades older or newer. So we don't know if it's on the same route as P7, and as with P7 we don't know whether this is its original location, or whether this is the original stone. If it's a stone, and it might not be.
While looking into Mysterious Milestone 5, I wandered off on a tangent for a while and learned far too much trivia and arcana about how state highways are named and numbered. And I still don't think I know enough to explain it properly. I was curious about Capitol Highway, which today is just a secondary road that winds its way rather aimlessly through the West Hills between Barbur (in the area of George Himes Park) and roughly PCC Sylvania. It was, we're told, the route of OR-99W before it was rerouted to its current location. So far so good, except that we haven't explained the "Capitol" in the name, since 99W doesn't go to Salem. Apparently the original full-length Capitol Highway branched off just before McMinnville, and headed due south to Salem via Dayton. This is present-day OR-221.
Or, if you prefer, "Salem-Dayton Highway No. 150". It turns out that state roads in Oregon often have two separate numbers, as Wikipedia valiantly tries to explain here. The numbers you normally encounter (like OR-99W, etc.) are route numbers, a system the state introduced in 1932 that semi-replaced the earlier highway numbers from 1917. Nobody uses the old numbers anymore except ODOT, and they use them internally for reasons I can't guess at. And I think I read somewhere that the numbers on road mile markers are based on highway mileage, not route mileage, leading to weird results when the two aren't coextensive. If you drive across the state on US 20, you will, I'm told, encounter "mile 1" no fewer than five times. In any case, in addition to being OR-99W, plus any local street name it happens to have, the same road is also "Pacific Highway West No. 1W". I saw a mention that Capitol Highway was once Highway #3, although at present that number belongs to "Oswego Highway No. 3", better known as OR-43 or Macadam, among other names (and present-day Capitol Highway isn't a state highway at all anymore.) In the same vein, I-405 is also "Stadium Freeway No. 61", parts of Boones Ferry Rd. and Hall Blvd. are "Beaverton-Tualatin Highway No. 141" (, and an obscure stretch of Marine Drive and N. Portland Road are, officially, "Swift Highway No. 120". The latter two were recently (2002) designated OR-141 and OR-120 respectively, although they haven't put up route signs for either one so far....
Um, how did I get off on this tangent again? We've covered how to get to the Capitol via the historical Capitol Highway, and I previously covered how to get to erstwhile Taylor's Ferry via the original route of Taylor's Ferry Road. As for Barbur, it was only built in 1933 (construction photo here), and prior to that it was the route of the Southern Pacific Westside Line. And all of this is very interesting and so forth, but I still have no idea how Spring Garden Rd. fits in. Unless maybe it just doesn't fit in.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
As seen on SW Ash St., in downtown Portland. I don't actually know what sort of tree these are on. My rusty Boy Scout tree identification skillz were pretty much 100% focused on commercially valuable conifers. Hey, it was the early 80's in the Pacific Northwest, and there was still an outside chance that might be a useful job skill someday, so that's what we learned. It may actually be some kind of ash tree, going by some of the photos I'm seeing on the net. Which would be appropriate, and a bit more detail-oriented than the city usually is.
In any event, free to chime in if you know what these are. I say that every so often, and I think I've gotten a response exactly once, plus one non-blog response on a Flickr photo page. Which suggests that the majority of this humble blog's Gentle Reader(s) are either A.) not avid botanists or B.) avid but unhelpful botanists. I'm going to go with option A, since that's what I prefer to believe.
I also don't know whether the fruit you see here is edible or not. I suspect it isn't, on the theory that the city will never knowingly put something out there that homeless people could subsist on, even if it doesn't taste very good. Or possibly I'm overly cynical about that.
Either way, I'm not going to go and suggest that anyone try eating these. Although if you do, strictly of your own free will, and the fruit doesn't kill you, and the pesticides and other assorted cooties also don't kill you, feel free to post a comment and describe what it tastes like. Because I admit I'm just a little curious, albeit not curious enough to try it myself.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
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Ok, so we finished up the last Stark St. Milestone a few days ago, but we aren't quite done with Milestone Madness just yet. In my post about the P7 on Stark St., I mentioned there was another P7 out on Capitol Highway in SW Portland. And this, o Gentle Reader(s), is that other P7. As you can sorta-see here, it's located right at the entrance to the Capitol Hill Library, just a couple of feet from the entrance curb cut. Park at the library and look for it. It's hard to miss, once you're looking for it and you know it's there.
The milestones on Stark follow an obvious pattern, and most of them still exist. This milestone seems to be the sole survivor of at least 7 heading SW out of downtown. So it's more mysterious than the Stark stones, and raises a few questions I can't answer right now:
- 7 miles(?) from where, along what route? Presumably it's in miles, presumably it's miles from downtown Portland, and presumably it follows the route of Hwy 99W to the SW of here, to the site of the actual Taylor's Ferry, and beyond. The route between downtown and here is less certain -- somehow or other it has to add up to 7 miles, so it's not as-the-crow-flies distance, since it seems to be just short of 5 miles in a straight line. Unless the stone is newer than it looks, the distance isn't likely to be along the current Hwy 99W / Barbur Blvd. route, since that was a railroad right of way until some time in the early-mid 20th century. I suspect it's measured along the route of old Taylor's Ferry road, following Macadam south out of town until the start of present-day Taylors Ferry Rd., just south of the Zupan's grocery store. And if I'm wrong about the route, I have no idea what the real route might be.
- I don't know for a fact whether this is the original milestone, or its original site. Could be both, could be neither. I suppose I could've gone inside and asked, since if anyone's likely to know about the milestone it would be someone with the library. But their open hours and my free hours don't mesh up very well, and I had to run off for an important meeting just as they were getting ready to open for the day.
- The existence of this milestone suggests that others existed, at least between here and downtown, and possibly between here and the old site of Taylor's Ferry. If so, what became of the others? Were they all lost to road-widening projects (which is distinctly possible, especially as we go further away from downtown)? Or do they still exist somewhere, awaiting discovery by intrepid urban explorers?
- As you can see, this P7 is in better shape than most of the ones on Stark. I don't know for a fact that it's the same age as the Stark milestones. It could be the same age but abused less, or it could be slightly newer, or it could be a modern reproduction, for all I know. I suppose I could call or email the library and ask about it, since it's the 21st century and all. They may even respond to tweets or whatever it is that one does on Facebook, for all I know.
Here we have some photos of the big stone cat on the Transit Mall, on 5th between Morrison and Alder. It's called Cat in Repose, by Kathleen McCullough, and it dates back to 1977 when the bus mall first went in. And now it's back from storage, as they're finally done with MAX construction.
Most of the original bus mall art is just eyeroll-inducing, and if anything the new crop is worse. But I've always been fond of the cat. I freely admit I'm biased, and I'm not very objective when it comes to cats, even when they're made of limestone. If you're looking for challenging, cutting edge art you may want to look elsewhere, but it's a cheerful and soothing presence, and it just works in its own way.
Scanning the interwebs for info about it was notably unhelpful. There's no shortage of guidebook-type sites that give it a quick mention, briefly informing the reader that the cat is beloved by children of all ages, or something along those lines. Beyond that, there's not much out there, so I've gathered up everything that seemed halfway useful here for your enjoyment.
Portland Public Art mentioned it once a few years back, when it was damaged by a thoughtless road crew with a pressure washer. They seem to have completely restored it for the MAX grand opening, though.
There's exactly one Flickr photo of the cat out there, that I'm aware of. Other than mine, obviously.
The cat's Smithsonian Art Inventory page has a little more info.
The art inventory also has a little info on the sculptor, and mentions one other work of hers, a lion at the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago. I ran across a photo of it here, on a blog generally about outdoor art in Chicago. The lion is in about the same pose as our cat, and it's carved from the same Indiana limestone. I don't usually find myself saying this, but I think we ended up with the better of the two. Ours has more of a modern, minimalist look to it, and the lion's more, well, cutesy. Almost folk-artsy, even.
Neither one quite measures up to Richard Recchia's 1931 Persian Cat (SI inventory page here). But hey.
Truth be told, I'd much rather be posting photos of my own cat than posting these, but (as I mentioned a while back) his kidneys gave out on him, and we had to take him in for that one final trip to the vet back in mid-July. I still have a bunch of cute cat photos that I've never posted, and I'm still convinced the net needs more cat photos. But looking at them is still tough, and I'm not sure how I feel about posting them. So maybe someday, and maybe not, but definitely not today.
I'd hate to wrap things up on that note, so let me direct you to "私信 [I am Maru]", a Japanese blog about the life and adventures of Maru, a container-obsessed Scottish fold cat. It's cute and uncomplicated and it's nice to look at when I need a break from grinding out Java all day. So enjoy!
Friday, October 23, 2009
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So here we have the last Stark St. milestone on our tour: Milestone P14 is way out on the far end of Gresham, on the campus of Mt. Hood Community College. It's near, but not quite at, the intersection of SE Stark and 257th Ave. / Kane Drive. The milestone is east of the intersection, on the south side of stark. There's a low tree-lined berm separating the MHCC parking lot from Stark, and the milestone sits on this berm between a couple of trees. Just a few steps east of it is a big greyish (or maybe green-greyish) utility box of some kind. It's bigger than the milestone and closer to the street, and may be easier to find.
The most convenient way to visit P14 is to park in the college lot just steps away from the thing. As far as I could tell, there's no parking permit system similar to what PCC and Portland State have, and you can park here without getting tased by a campus rent-a-cop. They usually have signs up for that sort of thing and I didn't see any. However, if you do run afoul of a zap-happy security guard, it's not my fault, and I hereby disclaim and renounce all responsibility, real or imagined, for anything that does or doesn't occur here, and you hereby accept that this is one of those inherent dangers that come from acting based on information you found on some random site on the interwebs. A random site with a peculiar and obscure name, no less, run by some random guy with a stupid anonymous nym he doesn't even like very much anymore and is seriously considering changing. Just so we're all clear on where things stand, I mean.
If worse comes to worse, you could always park at the gas station across Stark, or in one of the strip-mall parking lots across 257th. Although they're probably patrolled by predatory towing companies, come to think of it. So there's always TriMet, but the nearest #20 stops are a bit of a walk. Actually this is as far east as the #20 goes; at 257th it turns south and meanders its way down to the Gresham Transit Center. The area's also served by the #80 and #81, which I'm not very familiar with.
Basically the point of all of this handwringing is that I'm trying to conjure up a little excitement around P14, and it's not really working very well. Other than the college, the area is your basic suburban mix of fast food chains, drugstores, big box stores, a few offices here and there, and I'm sure it's perfectly nice and everything... but it leaves something to be desired in the (sub)urban exploration department. You could be anywhere, I mean, if there wasn't a milestone here to tell you exactly where you were.
The stone itself has a pronounced Pisa-like lean to it. If you've arrived here at the tail end of the hypothetical milestone pub crawl I keep going on about, it may help to be aware of this and know that it's not just you. You could probably do some trick photos like people do with the Leaning Tower of Pisa, where you pretend to hold it up, or push it over -- the difference being that your accomplice needs to stand behind the stone instead of in front of it to get the perspective trick right. Which you could easily figure out for yourselves if you were sober, which you aren't, because this is the last of 9 (or so) stops if you're just doing extant milestones, and the 14th of 15 otherwise. Which either way is a whole lot of stops. Speaking of which, there's what looks like a sports bar across from the college on 257th/Kane, or there's a Starbucks just west of here if you'd rather have some coffee at this point, which would be understandable.
The Stark Street Mile Markers blog argues that, as part of conserving and restoring the milestones, P14 should be reset in an upright position. I'd argue "not so fast" on that particular point. The milestone's so old that the lean itself may have some historic value worth preserving. I mean, it's one thing if it started leaning 15 years ago for no reason and it leans another degree or two every year. You'd want to correct that, obviously. But if, hypothetically, it leans due to an accident with an errant Stanley Steamer in 1903, the Northwest's first recorded DUI incident -- or possibly was the work of especially dimwitted Nazi saboteurs in 1942 -- you may want to leave it the way it is. Don't laugh; stranger things happen all the time in the historic preservation world. I'm not saying it should or shouldn't lean; I'm just saying the matter requires further research, and no messing with it in the meantime. There's no rush, after all. It's a rock, it's operates on geological time, and it's survived close to 130-150 years already, which is way more than we can say for whoever put it here.
Besides, I think I kind of like it this way. It's a distinguishing mark. It gives P14 a little character. It's almost jaunty, even. But then, I've been spending far too much time of late staring at old rocks. So it might be best to just ignore me. At least on this particular topic.