Tuesday, August 31, 2010

What Is In A Name?

Lexington now has a new street. One that has been in the planning stages for many years and has been called many names over those years. This street is now named for a person that few have any knowledge of and few places where one can look for information about him. His name was nominated, vetted and voted upon by the public, in an online poll, and garnered over half the votes cast. Yet the Herald-Leader says that little is known about him and they had no part in finding any information on him prior to the vote. I find it interesting that so many citizens could have made such an informed decision without the local newspaper.

This is the same newspaper which describes the first segment of the road(Phase IV) as running from West Main St. to Versailles Rd. and labels the photos with the current terminus as the intersection with Maxwell. Actually W. High St. is the intersection and Maxwell intersects a little closer to town and W High St. changes to Versailles Rd on the other side of the bridge at Angliana Ave.

I have followed the local controversies of our governments street naming or address committee and the troubles of naming or renaming streets due to problems(or perceived problems) and the wish to honor an fallen public servant. Then there is the issue of letting the public vote on naming a new roadway segment where very few realize that a problem could arise from failure to do so. To fully explain all the implications of how addresses are determined and assigned would take far more space than a single blog post and few readers would be willing to wade(slog) through it, so I won't attempt to give it a shot. What I will do is tell what I know about how some streets got their names.

Lexington started out with some very simple street names and none of them were named after anybody or any event, just some simple names on a grid. There was Main St which ran parallel to the Town Branch Creek and a commons area on either side of the creek which included the site of the original blockhouse and fortifications. What were called "in lots" surrounded both Main and the commons and from there north were "out lots". The streets parallel to Main had the numerical designations of Second through Seventh St. except for a short section of road called Short St, how odd. The perpendicular streets began with the Cross Street, (or Main Cross Street on some maps) right by the blockhouse and on either side of that were Mill(on the east) and Spring(on the west). If you try real hard, I bet you can tell what was the distinctive feature of each. Beyond these were Upper and Lower Streets with Upper on the upstream(east) side and Lower on the downstream(west) side. The eastern end of the "in lots" had a cross street named Mulberry, which ran from Hill St across Main and north to the extent of the "out lots". Hill St took its name from the fact that it traversed the crest of the hill on the south side of the Town Branch. The last two streets on the original plat were Walnut and Back, with Back being the farthest from the blockhouse or commons area and thus out back of everything else. See, simple names

But streets don't stop at the edge of town, they become roads that lead to the outside world. Main St led northwest along the Town Branch toward the Kentucky River and points westward, or you could go south east, back toward the Cumberland Gap. Cross St went north toward the Ohio and the settlements that would sprout in that direction, but it also went south to James Harrod's station and fort. Mulberry led out toward Bryan's station and on up the long used indian trail to the Ohio River and a spot that became known as Limestone because of the quality of rock in the area. As Lexington grew and the wilderness became subdued, people began to develop dwelling places and farms on the "out lots" and they saw the roads bring folks and take folks away, but mostly they saw the roads bring commerce.

Cross St and Main, being the center of town activity, probably saw the most commercial traffic and the width of Cross was increased to handle it. Newcomers from "back east" felt that it needed a name befitting its size and it became Broadway. Anyone building a fine house found the need to obtain their foundation stones from Limestone, Ky. and Mulberry St. started to be called the Limestone Rd.. Limestone, Ky. became Maysville and the road was then called the Maysville Turnpike, but it was still officially Mulberry in town. It took until 1887 for the City Council to change the name to Limestone St. and that was finally shortened to Limestone.

Imagine, if you can, that most of the homes and related activities occurring within what we now call our downtown core, from High St to Short and Limestone to Broadway. This is the very area that we have redone the streetscape and pavilion. With the influx of new residents in the early 1800s, many of them lawyers come to settle the land survey and boundary disputes, new housing developments sprang up as the farmers moved farther out into the fertile fields and the “out lots” became the estates of the wealthy.

The passageways to reach these estates, mostly unpaved, sometimes took their names from those who lived along them or their destinations. The 14 “out lots” on the south side of Hill St. abutted the property of John Maxwell and, as the lots began to be sub-divided, the roadway took the name of Maxwell St. Initially running from approximately Merino St to just east of Mulberry(Limestone), the street was extended to Woodland in the early 1900s.

The religious needs of the community were satisfied with meeting houses until the various congregations could build proper houses of worship. Several of these were located on the closest group of out lots and just north of Short St and were connected by a new roadway running parallel to Short and bisecting the lots. That street is now named Church St

Mill St was extended north along the west side of out lots “F” and #6, ending at Third St and a corresponding street was cut from the east side of the same lots. This new street led directly to the public square on which was located the school house and later the county court house. Since the days that court was in session drew so many to town, there was usually much trading and selling in a public market and this new street took the name of Market St.

These are the early names as found on the maps up until 1835. The naming and the reasons for naming get more interesting after that.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Second Anniversary

It was 2 years ago that I started this mess. I was convinced that I had no business writing a blog and that my typing skills would make it a chore. Besides, who would read what I have to say?

Here we are two years (and over 10,000 hits) later and I have a small but growing list of regular readers. I am convinced that some of you just look in to see what this idiot will say next while others are looking for some news. I don't do news, just opinion, but thanks for reading.

I have been rethinking just how I want to adjust the direction of my writing. I will still comment on the local development events and still advocate for the regional rail connections that we will all need in the future, but I want to do a little more in the historical aspects of the current controversies. Mrs Sweeper thinks that a book on local history could come out of this and maybe it will. She has been right in the past. I will take suggestions from you, the readers, on topics that you may be interested in.

Now, on to year 3

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Latest On Artistic Stops

I found out the other day that the opening of Art in Motion's latest bus stop at Newtown Pike and Ash St. is set for August 31. Called the Bluegrass Stop, it sits across Newtown from the Lexington Health Department building and is the third in a growing set of designed bus stops in Fayette County.

I visited Art in Motion's website for details on the opening and some of their next projects only to find that it has not been updated since late March.

So far they have built the Bottlestop (on Versailles Rd), Artstop (at Elm Tree Lane and E Third St), and Bluegrass stop(Newtown and Ash) with the Gardenstop under construction at Euclid and Linden Walk. Other than this there is no information on their site.

Here is what I do know about their future plans. The conversations for a stop near the Good Foods Co-op on Southland Dr are progressing well and a location for a stop in front of the Fayette County Schools Central Office has been set. I have not heard of either having a design settled upon and hope that they will have another competition for one or both. The Central Office stop will have space for revolving displays of student art and achievements.

I know that the local high schools have some advanced engineering or design classes and hopefully that can be enticed to submit some basic concepts from which the professionals can finish the design. Perhaps the School Board will take this suggestion into consideration.

I am also hopeful the the solar collector vs metered electrical lighting situation will be resolved.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Woodland Arts Fair Art For The Park

Next weekend is the 35th edition of the Woodland Arts Fair. Of all the activities held in the park, it is the longest running and best attended since the mid '30s and I have been to all of them.

I have seen Little League, Pony League baseball, Peewee League football, The Sunday Fast-Pitch tournaments, yearly swim meets, concert band series' and Shakespeare in the Park(after it out grew Bell Court). I have seen the two variations of the pool and remember the earlier one adjacent to the pavilion near the playground. There were also some volleyball courts, boundball courts and large, double well sand (feral cat litter) box. I was in the park daily from about 6 years to after I was 31.

Mrs Sweeper and I make it a point to attend two art fairs each year, the St James Fair in Louisville and the Woodland Arts Fair. It was during the art fair nearly twenty years ago while we were dating that we met my sister among the tents. I introduced them and we had a brief conversation and upon parting I spoke an aside to my sister, "I think that I'm gonna marry this woman". At this moment, Mrs Sweeper knew that she had let me chase her until I was firmly on her hook and she was reeling me in. That was it, no ring, no bended knee, no nothing, just a cute comment and I had committed to life.

All of this is to say that Woodland Park is a large part of my life. A great deal of my history lies in that park. The one thing that is missing both from the park and my history is some form of public art in the park. I can remember no public art ever being displayed anywhere in the park nor have seen any account of such. When they tore down the auditorium and replaced it with the weak, Realtor's Plaza, I believe that there was some talk of displaying something there but it failed to materialize.

I read and I post about public art, what it is, how it should be funded and where it should or should not be. I will state now, probably for the first time, that I would like to see some sort of public sculpture/fountain/statue placed in the park that has been the home of our premier arts event and I am sure will be its home for many years to come. The St James Ct. location started off with a beautiful large fountain and I don't expect that we will ever see something like that, but they have added some smaller pieces over the years and we could try for that.

How many of you will join me in calling for some public art in Woodland Park?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Eco Art In Lexington

The other day I wrote about some of the newer public art that I have seen around town. These artworks are fanciful pictures adorning a number of downtown storm sewer inlet boxes and last Friday I caught them in the act.

This is actually part of an EcoArt grant from the The Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government's Department of Environmental Quality and LexArts. I would think that it is probably the most visible of the listed grants and the brainchild of Blake Eames and Claudia Michler.

Blake has named this series "Made you look" and it is supposed to get you to look at the storm drains in a different way. All of these inlets lead to the Town Branch Creek and then to the Kentucky River. Anything other than water tends to be a pollutant, even grass and leaves if they occur in sufficient quantity. Paper, cigarette butts and sundry other street trash are all undesirable pollutants and hopefully an artistically themed inlet will help you think about just tossing your trash in the street.

The one pictured above is at the corner of Main and Eastern and should be the tenth or eleventh of the the 30 that they intend to do. They all are different and take some elements from the surroundings, though it is not always quite so obvious.

Keep an eye out for these ladies as the continue to decorate and draw awareness to the local storm drains in the downtown area over the next few weeks. If you see them, give them a big "Thank you " from the whole community and maybe we will see more of them in the future.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

What Will Our WEG Legacy Be?

I have the feeling that some of you think that I want the WEG to fail. Nothing could be further from the truth. I want the WEG to do well. I want help the WEG to do real well, but I cannot. I cannot attend even though it is in my back yard, so to speak. I have been priced out of the events just like I have been priced out of UK basketball season tickets. The basketball tickets are proven popular item while the WEG tickets are, so far, showing some lackluster sales. I just question the whys of this inability to attend this supposed “world class”, “once in a lifetime” future changer for Lexington.

While it can be alleged that there have been mistakes made by the local WEG staff, and that remains to be seen, there are others in this field of equestrian shows who have anticipated great things and fell a little short. A case in point is this pair of reports from England.
Royal Festival of the Horse organisers admit 'we got it wrong'

Organisers of the inaugural Royal Festival of the Horse have admitted they "got it wrong" after spectators spurned costly entrance tickets, but have vowed to learn from their mistakes.

They admit ticket sales were "disappointing", with only 20,152 visitors passing through the gates over the three days (9-11 July), despite hoping for around 50,000.

Spectators were "appalled" by the high cost of the event — tickets were £20 for entry, plus a further £20 for grandstand seating.

Sandra Curtis from Hull was disappointed by the costs: "The price of admission is scandalous and then to ask people to pay again for a seat is outrageous. I saw people going away from the gate when they found out how much it was to get in."
And many were unaware there would be no free viewing for the main arena.

But the Royal Agricultural Society of England (RASE) has promised to learn from the feedback.

Spokesman Alice Bell told H&H: "We made a mistake. We were overly ambitious with the pricing. Moving on, we will have lower ticket prices, make it clearer how the ticketing works and take a different approach to marketing."

She also admitted the show made a "considerable loss" leaving a "sizeable black hole" in RASE finances. But dates have already been set for next year. "We believe the show could be a great success, but we will need to invest in that. We will improve and listen — we're not the old, arrogant RASE we used to be," she added.

Tradestands suffered from poor attendance. Alan Cousins from Cousins of Cheltenham, who has been at the Royal Show for the past 25 years, was "appalled" by the lack of publicity.

"They've shot themselves in the foot — I won't be coming back. I thought they were amateurs five years ago — and they still are. They've got it completely wrong — again. We paid £3,500 to come here and we'll be lucky to take £2,000."

Showing competitors had niggles too, mainly regarding the ground and high entry prices.
This article was first published in Horse & Hound (15 July, '10)

If you were to substitute the Alltech/FEI Games for the Royal Festival folks and realize that this is our ONLY shot and they won’t be coming back, this story could be running in the Herald-Leader some time in mid to late October. We have already seen the articles about the weak ticket sales and the less than anticipated number of vendors, which the British call tradestands. The latest stories are about the lodging opportunities for the Games.

The second British article reiterates most of the first but continues to show the point of trades people being angry enough to ask for rebates.
Tradestand holders at Royal Festival of the Horse demand refunds

Tradestand holders at the controversial Royal Festival of the Horse (9-11 July) are demanding compensation after many made substantial losses.

Less than half the anticipated 50,000 visitors turned up for the inaugural three-day festival.

The show was run jointly by the Royal Agricultural Society of England (RASE) and Express Events (EE), who have since asked all stallholders and exhibitors for feedback.

Photographer Simon Palmer sent in a lengthy complaint. "The concept is brilliant, but everyone is left feeling very let down," he said.

Attendance overstated

Among their gripes was low visitor attendance. Although organisers told H&H two weeks ago that 20,152 visitors passed through the gates, they have now admitted this was a "total attendance" figure that included exhibitors, competitors and staff.
Assistant director of RASE events Alice Bell told H&H: "We never intended to mislead people. The total visitor figure will be released after a board meeting later this week."

Ema Odlin from The Horse Bits Shop said she was "disgusted" with the way the festival was organised and feels "ripped off".

"The stand space cost was on a par with the likes of Burghley and Badminton," she wrote in a letter to organisers.

'Totally mismanaged'

Niall McGuiness from Equine Care travelled from Dublin to take a stall but took only £50 over the three days, making a loss of £2,000.

"This event was totally mismanaged from the very top," he said. "Are the problems the Festival of the Horse faced the same as those that led to the Royal Show ceasing to exist?"

But RASE's Alice Bell hit back at his claims, saying: "The management team is 100% different to that of the Royal Show, so personally I think it's unfair to draw similarities."

She said the board is due to meet this week, to consider all feedback and whether the show will go ahead next year.

This article was first published in Horse & Hound (29 July, '10)
Had the local WEG committee held the prices low enough for the general population to enjoy this “once in a lifetime” event, just think how great it would be to really show the world that we ARE the “Horse Capital of the World”. I would be there and I would talk about in glowing terms.

Now, I fear that we will talk about our failure to impress when we showed our less than best side during the Games.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Changes To The Colt?

I haven't followed this as closely as I should but I understand that there may be changes coming to the Colt Trolley in the near future.

I have heard that the merchants along Jefferson St are urging the Lextran to extend the Colt to their area. Places like Stella's Deli and The Grey Goose are wanting to get in on the lunch time and the night bar scene with the rest of downtown. I would think that the folks in the Woodland Triangle are just as willing to get trolley service. An extension up Woodland, around Maxwell to Kentucky and down by the park would come close to approximating the early streetcar service from 100 years ago.

The north/south route, I hear, is being extended to Fourth St. to eliminate an awkward movement and a better stopping location near the Atomic Cafe. With the other announced additions to North Limestone, will it be long before it reaches Al's Bar and Sidecar?

Lastly, you should also look for the drivers to have their own uniform. Special ties and caps a la the old time streetcar conductors. If they are going to all this trouble, then go ahead and put in real streetcars.