Cedar Rapids’ Odd/Confusing Streets Used to Be Straight
Cedar Rapids' city streets are the stuff of nightmares. Downtown, the streets are pretty straight. Streets go one direction and avenues run perpendicular to them, for the most part. However, get away from the downtown core and you definitely better have a compass or GPS, or both.
Turns out, all of Cedar Rapids' streets used to run at 90-degree angles. What a concept. Of course, it was a very different and much smaller city then. The Cedar Rapids History Facebook page posted a couple images that I had to share. They clarify when everything started to go wrong.
The first image below is from 1875 when the Iowa Data Center reports the city's population was only around 7200. All of Cedar Rapids' streets are perfectly straight but look outside the city, at that time, and you see the beginning of the trouble. There's a lot of curves and strange angles.
You don't have to move very far forward in Cedar Rapids history to see bedlam ahead, beginning with the renaming of streets in 1882. Can you imagine? And you thought it was confusing today. Check this out:
Let's jump ahead 13 more years, to 1895. I couldn't find a population number, specifically, for that year. However, if you look at the total number of Cedar Rapids residents from the Iowa Data Center for 1890 (18,020) and 1900 (25,656), it's clear there was a fast acceleration in the population of the city. In 25 years, the city had nearly quadrupled in size. In 1895, just 20 years after Cedar Rapids' streets had been so straight, things were headed down the path of no return.
There you have it. How Cedar Rapids streets got so confusing. It can all be traced back to the 1880's and 1890's. Thanks, forefathers. Thanks, a lot.