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May 13, 1997

In the beginning, the planners of the original townsite of Perry had a good idea when it came to choosing street names for this offspring of the 1893 Cherokee Strip land run. They did it alphabetically for east-west streets and numerically for north-south streets. What could he simpler or more practical?

Remember, though, the original townsite of Perry was bounded on the north by F street, on the south by South Boundary, on the east by East Boundary, and on the west by 9th street. That was the complete townsite, a total of 320 acres, the maximum allowed by the U.S. Land Office. Everything else now in our city limits has been added since the day of the run. The additions came pretty fast.

Perry's population was estimated at 40,000 (can you imagine?) three hours after the Strip opened, but only 635 residential lots were contained in the townsite. What turmoil there must have been! It was obvious that the original plat was far too small for all those who had chosen this blessed location for their homesteads. The solution was to create four new suburban towns adjoining the original townsite. Each had 160 acres and separate governments, and they were named North Perry, West Perry, South Perry and Old Wharton. This provided an additional 2,145 residential lots. In due time all were annexed to Perry and became part of the city we now know.

When the combined township of Perry was created, city streets were named A to L, in alphabetical sequence, starting at the south. North-south streets were numbered -- except for Boundary -- starting at the east. Then on March 7, 1928, Mayor Henry H. Reynolds and the city council approved ordinance No. 1024 which gave names to the lettered streets, using popular shade trees for the most part. They also borrowed names of some historical characters and Indian tribal names. These were the official street designations as called out in that 1928 ordinance:

"A" street became "Ash" street.
"B" street became "Birch" street.
"C" street became "Cedar" street.
"D" street became "Delaware" street.
"E" street became "Elm" street.
"F" street became "Fir" avenue.
"G" street became "Grove" street.
"H" street became "Holly" street.
"I" street became "Ivanhoe" street.
"J" street became "Jackson" street.
"K" street became "Kaw" street.
"L" street became "Locust" street.
M" street became "Maple" street.
"N" street became "Noble" street.
"O" street became "Otoe" street.

According to an account of the council action in The Perry Daily Journal on March 8, 1928, the change was made to avoid confusion in reporting fire alarms and in making deliveries. The reporter wrote: "A and Eighth streets, H and Eighth streets and many other streets were confusing when given over the telephone." The city fire department first requested the changes. The council attached the emergency clause to the ordinance, making it effective upon adoption.

"In selecting a title for F street," the newspaper stated, "it was decided, due to the fact that it is part of state highways, it should be known as an avenue in the future and was re-named Fir avenue." As this shows, Fir is officially an "avenue," not a "street." Thus we have an answer to the question that triggered all this research.

The present-day official, legal maps of the city also show Fir to be an avenue. So now, perhaps, we can correct the signs and other things that fail to give Fir full credit for being an avenue, and not merely a street. If you live on Fir or operate a business on that thoroughfare, insist that correspondents and others use the correct designation and let's give our proud avenue its due.