Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.
Morning Star, December 3, 2000, pg. 12
Remember the slogan back in 1993 when Superior St. was repaved? It was "Paving the Way for a Superior Future." With the recent defeat of the millage proposal to fund the paving of a limited number of Albionís streets over a five year period, city officials of course are pondering how to s-t-r-e-t-c-h our limited tax dollars even more in order to get our roads back into shape. We all know that most of the roads in town need work, not just the specific ones listed in the proposal. People understandably want "their" street done "first." Perhaps there could be a "street lottery," where street names could be picked out of a hat, and those winning streets would be the ones to be repaved that particular year.
It was nearly 100 years ago now that street paving began in Albion. Prior to that of course our streets were dirt, mud, and dust, depending upon the season. In 1903, asphalt blocks were laid on Superior St. from the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern Railroad tracks southwards to Ash St. This was done in conjunction with the laying of the interurban tracks down the middle of Superior St. The cost of the project was $25,500. Unfortunately, these asphalt blocks tended to crumble and had to be replaced with regular red paving brick.
In 1910, asphalt was laid on S. Superior St. from Ash St. southwards all the way to Irwin Avenue using a hard stone material, and cement curb with gutter laid for drainage. The cost was $1.11 per square yard. The next year asphalt with limestone was laid on Michigan Avenue from N. Superior to Mingo Sts. Also paved in 1911 was W. Cass St. between Superior and Eaton Sts. It however, was paved with concrete. During the 1910s, red paving brick became popular. Superior St. from Ash St. northwards to Austin Avenue, Austin Avenue, and Erie St. from S. Eaton eastwards all the way to the railroad tracks were all paved with brick between 1913 and 1917 (You can still see a short stretch of remaining brick at the entranceway to Allen Place today). In later years this brick was covered over with asphalt, and the bricks still lie underneath these streets today. One exception is the 100 block of E. Erie St. where the brick has remained. It is due to be removed however, and replaced with asphalt next year when E. Erie St. is repaved, even though it is inside the Downtown Historic District boundaries. Hmmm...
Even old-U.S.-12 (Michigan Avenue) between Albion and Marshall was paved with brick! The road was slightly narrower then, but the brick base is still underneath. That accounts for various cracks that appear from time to time towards the edge of the road where the bricks ended and the wider asphalt continues.
Many of Albionís older streets were originally paved with concrete, which proved to be very durable. When the time came to replace it however, these streets were covered over with asphalt instead of laying new concrete. So many of our streets have a concrete base covered over later with asphalt. North Eaton St. will be our next example next year when that street undergoes major renovations and widening.
From our Historical Notebook this week we present a photograph of an unpaved S. Superior St. (then known as Riverside Drive) looking south by Riverside Cemetery and the Kalamazoo River millpond. Numerous track marks appear in the road. Notice the many trees on the right between the road and the river, and the old wooden white fence which once lined Riverside Cemetery on the far left.
Give a gift of Albion history this Christmas! My Albion history books and materials are available at the Albion Chamber of Commerce, 416 S. Superior St. Drop by and see all the "Albion stuff" theyíve got from numerous sources: T-shirts, Mugs, Plates, postcards, plus my books. Letís promote our community! Remember the Historical Notebook is now on the internet at www.albionmich.com. Click on the Albion History Directory, then the Historical Notebook.
Riverside Drive, now known as S. Superior Street
All text copyright, 2020 © all rights reserved Frank Passic