Monday, July 14, 2008

More Salt Lake City

The Utah state bird is the seagull, appointed in honour of a flock of seagulls that saved the early settlers' crops from a plague of crickets. I like seagulls, and have managed not to hit the two that have decided to fly in front of my airplane so far this trip, so I'm delighted that there's a state that honours them. The main street of Salt Lake City that goes up to the State Capitol is over arched by a bronze (material assumed, based on the verdigris) sculpture of a seagull. I took this picture while standing in the middle of the street. Not that Salt Lake City is such a sleepy little town where tourists can stand in the middle of the main street and snap photographs. Salt Lake City has modern conveniences like pedestrian crosswalks and traffic signals. I'm standing in the middle of the street while crossing at the light.

Salt Lake City has, or at least has signs of, other means of ensuring safe pedestrian passage across the streets. Here, up by the T-intersection in front of the Capitol, is a be-your-own-crossing-guard kit, sadly with the essential component part missing. The sign reads Look left & right when crossing | For added visibility carry orange flag across with you. It was an awkward intersection, with the traffic going up the hill and then turning left or right allowed to proceed straight through, but traffic going straight through or turning left or right down the hill had stop signs. Oddly, not only was the flag missing from the receptacle, but there was no matching receptacle at the other side of the street for the successful street crosser to deposit the flag. Perhaps the first person to cross the street is still walking around, looking for a place to put it. I saw a couple of other flag intersections, but none still had a flag.

Another strange thing about the streets in Salt Lake City is their names, or perhaps more accurately, the addresses. They use a coordinate system. When I was first told this I thought, "well, duh, so do most cities." Edmonton works its way out from the intersection of 100th Street and 100th Avenue downtown. Even Halifax, with its seemingly haphazard collections of streets, avenues and roads has street addresses based on a number of blocks along a street in one direction or another. But Salt Lake City takes its coordinates to another level. Sample street address: 303 NORTH 2370 WEST, Salt Lake City, UT 84116. That's the address of the FBO I'm at. It's near, but not at the intersection of streets labelled W 2300 and N 300. Actually I'm not certain there is an N 300, but it's near where it ought to be. I also saw streets with names and with subtitles like W 725. As you probably could have guessed--at least I did--the coordinate system is centred on the Temple. I have some directions written down here that include the line "N Redwood S of W 700 N." I suppose the people who grow up here think everyone else's addresses are impenetrably strange.

I've also been trying to meet Phil, of Where the Hell is Phil but you think it's hard for one person in aviation to scedule a social life, getting two together in the same place at the same time is almost impossible. So far our schedules have antimeshed perfectly, with him having time off as I go on duty and vice versa, but we'll keep trying.


Justin said...

That sculpture is called Eagle Gate, and appropriately, the bird on top of it is an eagle. There is a somewhat famous sculpture of seagulls a short distance away inside Temple Square, however.

Hope you enjoyed your stay.

Dan said...

Washington DC has a sort of a coordinate system too. Doesn't sound as numerical as Salt Lake City's though. I don't much care for DC's either.

I much prefer the manhattan system of ordered grid of numerically named streets crossed by avenues with alternating one ways. I can always find where I'm going in Manhatttan.