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1960s Madison Question

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1960s Madison Question

Postby currentd » Wed Apr 09, 2014 10:07 am

In the 1960s, my family lived on Beach Street in the Faircrest subdivision immediately west of Rosa Road and north of Mineral Point Road. I had not been back to Wisconsin in over 40 years until last year, when I found that the street layout in Faircrest did not match my recollection in one respect, but I have been unable to establish whether my recollection is correct and the layout has changed, or whether I am simply crazy. So, this is my question:

As I recall, in the '60s South Hill Drive did not cross Rosa Road; rather on the west side of Rosa, the street ended in a dead end just before Rosa. And, I believe that the street was not then called South Hill Drive west of Rosa but had a name with a nautical motif consistent with the other street names in the subdivision.

Does anyone familiar with area at that time know whether or not I am right, and if so, what the name of the street would have been? Or, does anyone know where I could find a city map of Madison of that era that would show what the street layout was and their names were?
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Re: 1960s Madison Question

Postby barney » Wed Apr 09, 2014 10:37 am

I am unable to help due to it being before my time on the planet, but if you don't find an answer here, check out the Lost Madison group on Facebook - very active and focused on historical Madison.
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Re: 1960s Madison Question

Postby massimo » Wed Apr 09, 2014 10:38 am

Thanks for the question, I'm extremely bored right now waiting for my coworkers to show up for this meeting.

Check out this street map from 1964. S. Hill seems to dead end east of Rosa, and on both sides of Rosa it's called S. Hill Dr. Perhaps there are earlier maps that might show something different?
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Re: 1960s Madison Question

Postby snoqueen » Wed Apr 09, 2014 10:40 am

Nice link.

I get the creepy feeling I have a map just like that in my glove compartment.
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Re: 1960s Madison Question

Postby fennel » Wed Apr 09, 2014 10:56 am

Here's one from 1955. Ashburn's Madison City & County Map Looks like Whitney Way was Gilbert back then and Rosa was the extreme western edge of Madison.
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Re: 1960s Madison Question

Postby massimo » Wed Apr 09, 2014 11:04 am

A map from 1961 that seems to roughly jibe with the map I posted up-thread from 1964.

The street names are not legible, but you can see the neighborhood that you lived in just starting to come into existence.
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Re: 1960s Madison Question

Postby kurt_w » Wed Apr 09, 2014 11:25 am

Thanks for the link to the historical society's collection of old maps, massimo. That's really cool.

A few years ago the US Geological Survey began scanning and uploading all its old topographic maps for the US, going back to the late 1800s. Jim Lacy (of the State Cartographer's Office -- a great guy) wrote a blog post about it here.

For Madison, the USGS has a dozen or more topo maps from 1890 to the present. Here's Madison in 1890:

Image

Interesting to see how much of the city is marked as "wetlands" or "marshes", including the Greenbush neighborhood right in what's now the middle of town. I guess that's why so many turn-of-the-century immigrants ended up there.

Also it looks like there was some kind of long, narrow, tall ridge on the mini-isthmus between lakes Wingra and Monona. That area (just south of St Mary's) is totally flat now.

What happened to the giant hill? It looks like four contour lines, so something like 80 feet tall. My guess is it got excavated for fill around Monona Bay. But that's just a guess.
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Re: 1960s Madison Question

Postby snoqueen » Wed Apr 09, 2014 11:45 am

The old marsh is also why a lot of the old houses in Greenbush are remarkably off level. Things settle in a marsh!

Also it looks like there was some kind of long, narrow, tall ridge on the mini-isthmus between lakes Wingra and Monona. That area (just south of St Mary's) is totally flat now.

What happened to the giant hill? My guess is it got excavated for fill around Monona Bay. But that's just a guess.


That's actually pretty famous. Part of it can still be seen behind the bear cages at the zoo. It was a stone ridge and the stone got quarried and used for building. There's sort of a weird flat wasteland, not shaped right in a topographical sense, where it used to be along S. Park St. To some of us it looks like a scar, to others it's just, well, a weird flat area.

Then the pretty little triangular neighborhood up around Spruce Street contains the other end of the missing ridge. That area has some of the oldest, largest oaks I've seen in Madison. I always wonder if they are remnants of the original vegetation.

Lots of digging and filling made Madison what it is today. Another piece of missing hill is along Cottage Grove Road where the Royster property is being reclaimed. You can see along the south side of CG by the VFW bar where the hill was cut away and shored up with stone walls. As on the south side, the remaining hilly neighborhood is pretty much a nice oak grove. One or two oaks remain on the north side of the road, all by themselves, oddly. Sometimes the vegetation says as much as the terrain.

More of the missing hill has been preserved just east of the high school. It's a beautiful little cemetery that once was rural and is now surrounded by houses.

In this case the earth looks like it was removed to level the road, which was still two lanes well into the 1960. It wasn't a stone ridge quarried for building material. Different geology. The glacier pretty much stopped somewhere in between CG road and the zoo.
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Re: 1960s Madison Question

Postby kurt_w » Wed Apr 09, 2014 12:26 pm

snoqueen wrote:The old marsh is also why a lot of the old houses in Greenbush are remarkably off level. Things settle in a marsh!

Also it looks like there was some kind of long, narrow, tall ridge on the mini-isthmus between lakes Wingra and Monona. That area (just south of St Mary's) is totally flat now.

What happened to the giant hill? My guess is it got excavated for fill around Monona Bay. But that's just a guess.


That's actually pretty famous. Part of it can still be seen behind the bear cages at the zoo. It was a stone ridge and the stone got quarried and used for building. There's sort of a weird flat wasteland, not shaped right in a topographical sense, where it used to be along S. Park St. To some of us it looks like a scar, to others it's just, well, a weird flat area.


Huh. I lived in that neighborhood for years and never heard about that. Thanks! But ... just curious, where did you hear or read that story?
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Re: 1960s Madison Question

Postby rabble » Wed Apr 09, 2014 12:32 pm

kurt_w wrote:Huh. I lived in that neighborhood for years and never heard about that. Thanks! But ... just curious, where did you hear or read that story?

I could have sworn I saw it on a plaque on a rock at the park behind the bear cages.

I know I've heard and seen the story in other places too. I gathered that the ridge was mined out before 1900 and the material was prized for construction and thus would never have been used for fill.

My wife remembers the city dumping all its fill from every construction project into Monona Bay to build John Nolen. And she remembers the family piling into the car to check out the new road across the bay.
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Re: 1960s Madison Question

Postby Henry Vilas » Wed Apr 09, 2014 12:34 pm

Mound Street used to have Indian mounds, but they were dug up for construction materials. Vilas Ave. was originally a continuation of West Washington, but the powers-that-be decided to save the Bear Indian Mound (between Randall and Grant), thus the name change. Vilas remains a narrow street, but has very wide terraces on either side. Drake St., one block to the south, then became the arterial.
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Re: 1960s Madison Question

Postby green union terrace chair » Wed Apr 09, 2014 1:02 pm

snoqueen wrote:Nice link.

I get the creepy feeling I have a map just like that in my glove compartment.

How long have you had your car?!
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Re: 1960s Madison Question

Postby fennel » Wed Apr 09, 2014 1:30 pm

This USGS download (PDF) shows a 1957 map with revisions added in 1969. Among the revisions is the extension of S Hill to Rosa north of Garner Park. (Revised areas in purple)
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Re: 1960s Madison Question

Postby HawkHead » Wed Apr 09, 2014 3:00 pm

currentd wrote: And, I believe that the street was not then called South Hill Drive west of Rosa but had a name with a nautical motif consistent with the other street names in the subdivision.


Anchor, Beach, Cable, Driftwood, Eddy, Frigate, Galley, Hawser
Island, Jetty, Keelson, Landfall, Masthead, Nautilus, Offshore, Quarterdeck
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Re: 1960s Madison Question

Postby green union terrace chair » Wed Apr 09, 2014 3:46 pm

HawkHead wrote:
currentd wrote: And, I believe that the street was not then called South Hill Drive west of Rosa but had a name with a nautical motif consistent with the other street names in the subdivision.


Anchor, Beach, Cable, Driftwood, Eddy, Frigate, Galley, Hawser
Island, Jetty, Keelson, Landfall, Masthead, Nautilus, Offshore, Quarterdeck

I never noticed the alphabetic coverage. But why'd they skip P? They could have had a Poopdeck Place!
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