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South Park's crooked 30th Street

Heymatt:
Why in the world does 30th Street morph into Fern Street between Juniper and Ash streets? Not only that, 30th doesn’t disappear during its run as Fern but actually continues as an entirely separate and parallel street one block to the west of Fern. I can understand that it would be a huge hassle to fix it, i.e. rename Fern as 30th and then rename the western section of 30th as Fern, but why did this happen in the first place?
— Neil Allen

If you look at USGS maps ca. 1900, South Park has about 30 houses. By 1930, the entire neighborhood as you know it was planned and developed, so it looks like you have turn-of-the-century city developers to blame for your annoyance. The biggest difference is that there were fewer trees then. One of the big factors shaping early development in the neighborhood was the streetcar system that made its way up from Golden Hill and, eventually, over Switzer Canyon and into North Park. The trolley’s route was up 30th Street and 30th was made broader and wider to accommodate the higher traffic. Even today, 30th is ten feet wider. My understanding is that 30th was planned as the streetcar route, despite not being a perfectly straight shot. The idea that the main thoroughfare should be contiguous, even if a bit wandering, smacks of early city planning. Flappers en route to speakeasies had less choice in travel since not everybody had a car, so it made sense for the street to follow the trolley rather than the other way around. The topography of the land would have had something to do with it as well, since the grade there is fairly aggressive.

Sadly, the planners didn’t plan for us all having our own cars. Now, it seems natural to go straight on Fern when driving through South Park. Planning reports from the 1980s indicate that Fern Street saw three times as much vehicle traffic as the corresponding section of 30th and not much has been done to change that.

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Heymatt:
Why in the world does 30th Street morph into Fern Street between Juniper and Ash streets? Not only that, 30th doesn’t disappear during its run as Fern but actually continues as an entirely separate and parallel street one block to the west of Fern. I can understand that it would be a huge hassle to fix it, i.e. rename Fern as 30th and then rename the western section of 30th as Fern, but why did this happen in the first place?
— Neil Allen

If you look at USGS maps ca. 1900, South Park has about 30 houses. By 1930, the entire neighborhood as you know it was planned and developed, so it looks like you have turn-of-the-century city developers to blame for your annoyance. The biggest difference is that there were fewer trees then. One of the big factors shaping early development in the neighborhood was the streetcar system that made its way up from Golden Hill and, eventually, over Switzer Canyon and into North Park. The trolley’s route was up 30th Street and 30th was made broader and wider to accommodate the higher traffic. Even today, 30th is ten feet wider. My understanding is that 30th was planned as the streetcar route, despite not being a perfectly straight shot. The idea that the main thoroughfare should be contiguous, even if a bit wandering, smacks of early city planning. Flappers en route to speakeasies had less choice in travel since not everybody had a car, so it made sense for the street to follow the trolley rather than the other way around. The topography of the land would have had something to do with it as well, since the grade there is fairly aggressive.

Sadly, the planners didn’t plan for us all having our own cars. Now, it seems natural to go straight on Fern when driving through South Park. Planning reports from the 1980s indicate that Fern Street saw three times as much vehicle traffic as the corresponding section of 30th and not much has been done to change that.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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