Local author Nancy Wilson pointed out we neglected at least one alley in last week’s feature on Petaluma’s alleys.
“When I.B. Raymond developed his rock quarry in the 1920s,” Wilson said, “one of his restrictions had to do with power poles and wires cluttering up the look of his new street, Raymond Avenue [now Raymond Heights], so an alley was laid out behind the houses to conceal the infrastructure.
“Our alley begins on I Street opposite Seventh, runs past two wonderful gardens, then makes a 90 degree bend.” At the right time of year, she added, walkers can snag Concord grapes and Gravenstein apples. “It goes up over the hill between the back sides of the houses. There is one very productive stand of blackberries, some chickens and beehives, several house fronts and then the outfall on Olive Street, just uphill from I.”
Wilson, who volunteers in the History Room at the Petaluma Library, researched former local alleys in the 1877 Thomas Atlas of Sonoma County as well. “For instance,” she said, “American Alley used to extend north across Washington Street, through what is now the Bank of America lot. And it continued on the north side of what was then the Plaza, now Penry Park, all the way across Prospect Street and a bit beyond.”
A never-built alley bisected Wickersham Park, which Wilson said was originally intended to be developed into residences, and others ran between Fourth and Fifth, and Fifth and Sixth streets.
The History Room is located above the library, with access opposite the reference desk. Hours are 1-4 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays and 5:30-7:45 p.m. Wednesdays.