On Sunday I attended the Snake Alley Art Fair in Burlington, IA. (It is called Snake Alley because of it's shape, not because it is snake-riddled!) For those of you who are not familiar - this art fair is held every year on Father's day. Here is some history that I copied from their website - see the link... Snake Alley ...
Snake Alley was constructed in 1894 as an experimental street design. The intention was to provide a more direct link between the downtown business district and the neighborhood shopping area located on North Sixth Street. Working together, three public-spirited German immigrants conceived and carried out the idea of a winding hillside street, reminiscent of vineyard paths in France and Germany.
Charles Starker was a German-trained architect and landscape engineer who settled in Burlington partly because it reminded him of southern Germany. He took a prominent role in many of Burlington's development projects, including Crapo Park, which was built at the same time as Snake ALley.
William Steyh, the city engineer, was well respected for his engineering capabilities and his enthusiasm for park projects. Steyh was also involved in developing Crapo Park, as well as the street railways and stone viaduct construction.
George Kriechbaum, a paving contractor, was a Burlington pioneer whose parents had immigrated from Germany. He constructed the first brick paving in Burlington in 1887. The brick paving of Snake Alley is still the original brick that Kriechbaum provided in 1894.
Local newspapers proclaimed the street "a triumph in practical engineering." The city had considered constructing more streets in this same manner, but the switchback design proved to be less successful for horse carriages than the city had anticipated.
There is a legend that the fire department used this alley to test horses. If a horse could take the curves at a gallop and still be breathing when it reached the top, it was deemed fit to haul the city's fire wagons. Unfortunately, many teams would run out of control or stumble over the limestone curbing, sometimes resulting in a broken leg.
Ripley's Believe It Or Not titled Snake Alley "The Crookedest Street In The World."
The alley is composed of tooled, curved limestone curbing and locally-fired blueclay bricks. The constantly changing slant from one curve to the next necessitated a complicated construction technique to keep the high grade to the outside. Snake Alley consists of five half-curves and two quarter-curves over a distance of 275 feet, rising 58.3 feet from Washington Street to Columbia.
The craftsmanship and soundness of materials used in the construction of Snake Alley have made it a durable street. It stands today as a singular landmark in Burlington and a reflection of the city's ethnic heritage.
It is really cool, and what an interesting history. As usual, I didn't think to take my camera with me and as I was looking online for some pictures to share, I did come across this one: Picture - on Burlington's Facebook page. It doesn't show the Art Fair, but it is a wonderful picture of the Alley. During the Art Fair, there are vendors set up on the Alley and on the streets above the Alley. Luckily the weather held out, and was mostly overcast all day and decent temperatures and most importantly...no rain! I worked in the Art Guild's booth, selling water, for a couple of hours. Afterwards we helped tear down then we took Dad out for supper for Father's Day. He's very hard to buy for (what do you buy a farmer with no hobbies?) so I made him a batch of peanut clusters.
I made a few purchases that day - a couple of pieces of my pottery dishware that I've shown you before. And this rusty yard stake...
I love sunflowers and thought this would make a good addition to our front yard.
And while I was taking pictures in the yard, I had to take some of the flowers that are starting to bloom. We've been waiting to see some color and it is finally coming...
Oh...one last picture, so you can see nothing has changed...
Have a great day!