Monday, January 18, 2021

Trump Street

Mason City, Ohio was founded in 1805 along the Great Miami River. The original plat of the town had 13 square blocks with streets from north to south named for the states as they were admitted to the Union with the exception of the central business district street which was named Constitution Avenue. The east-west streets were numbered from 1 to 13 with the exception of River Street which ran along the river.

The city grew relatively quickly and today the city boasts 228,643 people and the state streets range from Delaware Street to California Street and 1st to 46th Street. In 1913, the city council and voters voted to rename the numbered streets after the United States presidents. 1st would be renamed Washington Street, 2nd Street would become Adams Street, and so on. At the time, the numbered streets went to 17th, or Johnson Street. As the post-war boom exploded Mason City's population, the city quickly grew and by 1957, the numbered streets had grown to 30th Street, or Coolidge Street.

As the city grew, the streets got to 42nd Street by 1977 so they stayed as numbers until a president was elected. When there was a naming ceremony, the city would symbolically send a letter to the president being honored and invited them to attend the ceremony and tighten the screws on the sign and pole. The invitations began with Richard Nixon in March of 1970 with 37th Street. An invitation was extended to Gerald Ford (March 1975), Jimmy Carter (March 1978), Ronald Reagan (March 1982), George Bush (March 1990), Bill Clinton (March 1994), George W. Bush (March 2002), and Barack Obama (March 2010).

Sadly, growth of Mason City slowed greatly after the Great Recession in 2008 so it was thought that a 45th Street would not be annexed into the city. With the construction of I-66 through the southern part of Mason City, a small country road--Stutley Road--was annexed and renamed 45th Street in February 2017. A letter was sent to President Donald Trump in March 2018 to attend the renaming ceremony. Many citizens of Mason City objected to his invitation but in 48 years of invitations, no president had attended and only four had even responded (Carter, Bush, Bush, Obama). Surprisingly, President Trump not only responded but agreed to attend the ceremony. As the media got ahold of the story, many thought that the city was honoring Trump, not knowing all their streets were named for presidents and that Trump was the only president to attend the ceremony. The ceremony was scheduled for August 15, 2018 and the president sent a staffer to prepare the city for his visit. It was explained repeatedly that the ceremony was small, short, and was just going to be the president tightening a couple of bolts on the sign. He still showed up.

I-66 had to be detoured at the Pennsylvania and Illinois exits and Constitution Avenue shut down south of Obama Street. It was a clear, hot, and sunny day as a crowd of about 75 people huddled around the intersection of Constitution Avenue and what would become Trump Street. The landscape sloped slowly down into a creek and since very little had been built south of Obama, it looked pretty desolate. President Trump finished tightening the bolts on the sign, gave a short speech, shook a few hands, and then left. The crowd dispersed and the sign remained lonely, almost abandoned, for a few months. It became a tourist attraction, people wanting pictures of a street sign named for either the greatest president of all time or the worst president of all time. In November, the sign was stolen and replaced a couple weeks later. It was stolen again in May of 2019 and vandalized with swastikas in October. The sign was moved to the light pole, higher and harder to get to, where it has been shot at a couple of times.

In March 2020, the land south of the interstate on the west side of Constitution Avenue was bought with the developer proposing a mixed retail and residential plot. With the purchase of the land, the plat of the development showed a park directly across from Trump Street named "Women's Park". The entrance to the land would be placed at 46th Street. As of June 2020, construction hasn't started on the development—the road network was completed in November, but there is also nothing that has an address of Trump Street.

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I wrote this a few months ago but it was something that I've had in my head for a couple of years. Usually when I doodle, I doodle maps and I create cities and sometimes I come up with a history and stories for the city. I drew a city who named their streets after states and presidents and thought about how a Trump Street would work. I honestly believe that Trump would truly consider a purely ceremonial street name to be a great honor. Just like he thought the purely ceremonial electoral vote count could actually be changed. I figured I would post it in honor of Trump's last couple days as President of the United States and the 13th anniversary of this website.

The above picture is of Trump Street in Solvay, New York taken from Google Maps.