Short Street in Oklahoma City has Long 106-Year History
In Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA, off of NW 23rd, just east of N. Shartel Avenue, is a street barely two blocks long that could easily be mistaken for an alley. On January 27, 1910, The Oklahoman published a legal notice from the city announcing: ‘… the changing of names of certain streets and avenues in the city of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and naming of certain strips of land dedicated to the public for street purposes.’ Included in this list of street names was: ‘A thirty-foot street lying immediately on the west of Guernsey Park Place addition, and extending from the south line of said addition, to the north line of 26th Street, shall be known and designated as Guernsey Avenue.’
At some point “North” was added to its name. This “alley-like street” named N. Guernsey Avenue is now 106 years old.
No explanation was found for the choice of N. Guernsey Avenue to be Oklahoma City’s first concrete street, but a 1918 Portland Cement Association (PCA) advertisement shed light on the increased use of concrete for city streets: ‘This traffic includes tourists from every state in the Union in addition to an ever increasing number of local trucks, buses and cars.’ At that time, local authorities recognized that the city must prepare for traffic growth, so in 1918, Oklahoma City built its first concrete street … now known as the city’s oldest concrete street: N. Guernsey Avenue—from 23rd to 24th streets. (With this exception, concrete was not used until 1920).
This street showed that it could take punishment over other types of road coverings that contained ruts and bumps. Twenty years after concrete was laid, a February 7, 1930 article from The Oklahoman, explained that street repairs were needed after Oklahoma City encountered a major January blizzard: ‘…”Oklahoma City streets damaged by the recent storm can be repaired for $12,411.06,” the city engineering department announced … (William W.) Small (City Engineer) said damage to concrete streets was light, although they were scarred by heavy tire chains.’ (Tire chains were used to provide traction on slippery surfaces before there were snow tires, and before city removal of snow and ice). Now, 98 years later, N. Guernsey Avenue may be lost and forgotten among city streets, but Oklahoma City’s first concrete street is still surviving the daily punishment from Oklahoma’s weather and drivers.
According to the Oklahoma County assessor’s website, there is only one entity that has its address on N. Guernsey Avenue—Guernsey Park Restaurant at 2418 N. Guernsey Avenue (see this article’s ISCP home page photo, and above). The Oklahoman‘s archives found only one other previous N. Guernsey Avenue address from 1939—a house located at 2411 N. Guernsey Avenue.
To read the full NewsOk article, please go to: http://newsok.com/article/5470023.
For more information, please contact Mary Phillips, NewsOk, The Archivist: E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
ACPA-Oklahoma Chapter Blog: www.concreteroads.org.
Home page photo (and above): Looking north on N. Guernsey Avenue
from NW 23rd, Guernsey Park Restaurant is the gray building
on the right. At NW 24th, the pavement transforms from concrete
to asphalt and then to grass. The street does not show any repairs,
and parts of the street could possibly date from 1918.
[Photo by Mary Phillips, for The Oklahoman]