Sunday, January 17, 2010

Regents & Alameda

NE Regents & Alameda


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Ok, one more post and we're done with the Tedious Tour of Alameda for the time being. The last nano-park on the tour is a puny triangle of land at the intersection of NE Regents, Alameda, and 29th Avenue. As with the last few, I found it mentioned briefly in a single city document and tracked it down, because apparently I had nothing better to do. This one isn't the site of picnics or mildly amusing snow videos (that I'm aware of), and there isn't any art, or a fountain, or any public stairs, or any other points of interest (that I'm aware of).

It does have a TriMet bus stop, #7306 a.k.a. "29th & Alameda", served by eastbound bus #9. So if you ever want or need to drop by this place for some reason, it's possible to do so without having to figure out the wacky Alameda street non-grid. The regular city street system breaks down here due to there being a ridge in the way, and instead you've got winding streets with names that occur nowhere else in town. The Alameda history site I linked to in a previous post has an interesting article about the origins of some of these names. I mean, the names are mostly those of real estate and business types who were involved in the Alameda development back in the early 20th Century, along with their friends and associates. That's one of the time-tested standard naming conventions for subdivisions, right up there with inoffensive nature themes.

If you'd prefer a somewhat less tedious tour of the area, the city's "Alameda Ridge and Stairs" walking map that covers basically the same territory as my recent series of posts does. You might also enjoy this poem about growing up in Alameda back in the 1940's or 50's.

An old Round the Roses piece from 1986 talks about the history of the area, and notes that the ridge was once known as "Gravelly Hill". The Alameda Ridge wikipedia article further explains that the ridge is, in fact, a gigantic gravel bar produced by the enormous ice age Missoula floods. So, ok, they don't have eyewitness accounts to prove it, but there's a humongous pile of gravel that looks like it was shaped by water, massive amounts of water, and there's only one known source for that much water in this part of the world. So it seems like a rather safe bet. I was surprised to learn about this gravel bar business actually; I tend to assume that anything around here that isn't flat must be volcanic or at least tectonic in origin, but apparently that's not the case this time.

The Cully Neighborhood Association (located a few miles east of Alameda) has a history page which mentions that Thomas Cully (their pioneer founder & namesake) died in a wagon accident while ascending Gravelly Hill. In many societies, such an event would beget an eternal blood feud between the two neighborhoods, but that doesn't seem to be the case here. I'm not actually trying to encourage such a thing, although I admit that as an outsider it would be kind of fun to watch. Possibly we could be semi-civilized about it, and channel the feuding into vicious inter-neighborhood competitions instead of actual vendettas, a la the Palio di Siena.

We couldn't do it as a horse race, obviously, because that would be inhumane. But bikes are an obvious Portland-friendly replacement. Each neighborhood association would sponsor a rider, and they'd all take part in a ridiculously dangerous, and helmetless, race around Pioneer Courthouse Square (including the part with the spiral ramp) every year, maybe during the Rose Festival. I could care less about the Rose Festival itself, but holding it then guarantees that it will rain, which makes the race more exciting. The winning neighborhood gets a big chunk of strings-free PDC money to spend as they like. The winning rider gets, I dunno, a case of PBR, or a bag of weed, or a new bike, or something. I don't really care what the riders get -- as with the original Palio, riders are strictly menial employees. They ride, and that's it. They don't need to have any ties to the neighborhood, and they're expendable if that's what it takes to win. Any casualties are easily replaced, as Portland receives a fresh crop of hipsters every summer, right after college graduation happens across the Midwest. And the survivors can write shoegazing indie emo songs about their fallen comrades and maybe get picked up by a major label, which is the main thing, obviously.

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