My recent column on how some of Anderson’s streets got their names piqued the interest of some historians. As a result, Bob Shoemaker forwarded a street map of Anderson Town, apparently as it was in the early 19th century.
And you know what? The numbered streets in the old section of downtown Anderson are conspicuously absent.
Jackson, Meridian and Main streets give present-day perspective to the diagram. Meridian dead-ended on the north at the old Pennsylvania Railroad tracks. Jackson also ended there, a block away. Main Street angled right at the tracks, as it does today albeit after the tracks were removed many years ago. But the road was unimproved from there to White River where there was an old ford, later replaced by a bridge just north of today’s Truman bridge.
Most other streets are different. There was no Broadway Bridge (or was it Baldwin Bridge?), and Jackson ended at a street called North Canal Street, apparently where West Third Street begins today. Cross streets from there south were Hanna, Hamilton, Benton, German, Anderson, Washington, Bolivar, Williams, Canal (South Canal, maybe?), Lena and Taylor streets.
The southern town limits were just south of the old Big Four depot along what was then Union Street.
Central Avenue, the one beginning downtown, was then known as Water Street. To the east, then as now, were Fletcher and Pearl, but they ended north of the tracks at a two-block stretch called Butler Street. Ohio Avenue intersected with Fletcher at Lena Street, the latter connecting as an unimproved road to the old Myers ferry over White River where the old 10th Street bridge would eventually be built. Across the Pennsylvania tracks, Ohio Avenue had a junction with Lynn Street heading north to another ford across the river.
To the west, the town limits went only as far as the railroad tracks along John Street. Inbound were Morton, Lincoln, Chase, Hazlet and Delaware streets, all much shorter than they eventually became.
When a bridge finally linked the central city with North Anderson, it seems Broadway was indeed Broadway, a wide stretch with Interurban tracks down the middle. During the time Harry Baldwin was mayor in the 1930s, according to Shoemaker, the City Council renamed the street Baldwin Avenue in his absence. Immediately signs sprang up proclaiming, “It’s still Broadway to us.” Soon after that Baldwin pressured the council to restore the Broadway name.
Oh, and Louise Street (now Dr. J.T. Menifee Street)? One neighborhood resident recalls its history, the streets in the addition being named by farmer Harry Fricke (not sure of the spelling), who owned the land, with the names of his children. They included Louise, Nelle, Halford and Dewey. Area residents also insist Lou-EESE is the preferred pronunciation rather than the colloquial Lou-EYES.
Of course, since it lost its original name, I guess the pronunciation is moot.
Jim Bailey’s reflections on Anderson’s past appear on Sunday. His regular column appears on Wednesday. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.