Thursday, June 20, 2013

Of Tours, Picnics and One Way Streets

 Sitting on my front porch during the 2013 Northside tour, I was able to talk to so many people I had not seen in a while and quite a few who had never seen Elsmere Park. Get that a lot – people just do not know where our street is, or that it even exists. The tour really helps lots of folks understand more about the Northside. Congratulations to the organizers for a most successful day – we served a lot of lemonade and cookies on Elsmere Park. I was reminded, too, of the tour in the early 1990’s when we had more than 40 sites lined up…the crowds were huge, but my most fond memory was seeing journalist Al Smith visiting with a homeowner in the 400 block of North Upper who was telling Mr. Smith all about her family and tracing her ancestors back for more than 100 years and relating their wondrous stories. I had a hard time moving on to the next site and leaving the storytelling that was so unique. Elsmere Park celebrated another annual picnic this month, and memories of the early picnics were shared…including stories from Joe Binford about singing and playing his banjo, of Clara Curran who would bring her stereo (this was the 70’s) out onto her porch for the neighbors to enjoy music, of Maurice Clay who would organize games for adults which consisted of trying to sweep magnolia leaves down the street, of later generation neighbors who would lead the children’s games of egg toss and water balloon toss (some adults really enjoyed those, too). Neighborhood celebrations all, and creators of wonderful memories. And one way streets…a question I pose: given the long range planning to remove the viaduct at Jefferson Street and potentially the viaduct at Martin Luther King (on the plan to memorialize the Town Branch through downtown), if Upper and Lime become two way, and Transylvania is in session, how does one move a vehicle from north to south in an emergency, since most of the hospitals are south of Main Street? And, if that run on sentence is not enough, what about delivery trucks and Lextran buses on two way, one lane each way streets? Andres Duany, a great urban planner, once said, (mostly with regard to parking) that a two block walk to a destination is a good thing, but the walk must be interesting. I would be curious to know how (my anticipated, I admit) gridlock would be interesting. Granted, the perception is we do not have much traffic on the north side of Main Street, but I would like for the current traffic consultants to make the almost daily trips to doctors and hospitals that I make and tell me it is all going to be fine. One of the advantages of living here all my life is that I remember what it was like when Short, Second, Lime and Upper were two way streets. Short and Second were paired as one way in the 1950’s, while I was still in high school. Lime and Upper came later. Traffic moved pretty well before one way streets, but the population was 50,000. Today is different in so many ways.

-By Rose Lucas 
June 16, 2013