Since You Asked: Alder needed room for horses and buggies

My family lives in Central Point and we were wondering why Alder Street is so much wider than the rest of the streets in Central Point. It appears even wider than Pine St.

Any idea?

— Rick & Joy D., Central Point

Alder may look quite a bit wider than the city's main drag, Rick and Joy, but Central Point Development Services Manager Matt Samitore says a lack of two-story structures and roaring traffic on Alder Street create an optical illusion.

Officially, and according to city maps, Pine Street, the city's widest road (in terms of paved area, not right-of-way) is five feet wider, measuring 55 feet from curb to curb compared to Alder Street's 50 feet span (curb-to-curb).

"You go down Alder and it does look like it's a lot wider than Pine Street, but it's also not three or four lanes of cars," said Samitore.

"Alder has a simple one lane in each direction and parking on either side with houses set back. Pine Street, through downtown, is four lanes plus parking on each side and two-story buildings on the right-of-way. From a right-of-way perspective, Alder does look a lot wider."

Both having the distinction of being two of the city's original streets, however, leave them wider than newer streets in the nearly 120-year-old city.

The reason old streets were so wide? Horse and buggy accessibility, of course! And perhaps room for their "exhaust"?

Historically, most downtowns that existed during the horse and buggy days boast old streets that measure 60 feet wide for north-south thoroughfares, and 80 feet wide for east-west roads.

"In all the plats in old towns, the streets had to be wide enough to turn an eight-horse cart and buggy with a stage coach on it," Samitore explained. "When they started paving streets 100 years ago, they just matched what was already there, so there's no rhyme or reason to why some streets are wider than others."

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