The Magic of Alleys

A blue and red touring bicycle with bags attached to the frame and handlebars is parked against a wooden post in an urban setting. The area is strewn with dry leaves and some litter on the ground. There's a chain-link fence in the background with a concrete post beside the bike. The setting appears to be a neglected urban corner with no people in sight.

A tiny alley, connecting two larger alleys. Old Town Albuquerque, New Mexico

The secret corridor proves an amazing fast shortcut to any explorer determined to brush aside low-hanging branches and to risk broken glass and rusted wire. And it offers the probing and poking explorer another view of the chrome-and-glitter commercial strip, even of the regional mall, for it makes clear the stealth with which change comes.

– John Stilgoe, in his book Outside Lies Magic

Off the western edge of Albuquerque’s historic “Old Town”, the plaza settled in the early 1700s, runs an over-named street called “Hollywood Avenue.” It’s not clear when it acquired the name, but it was an unnamed street by the time modern mapping created the legibility necessary to draw property lines so early 20th century governments could tax people to pay for roads, schools, and water management.

Soto Avenue came later, running behind the strip mall along Route 66.

“Avenue” seems a bit grandiose as a naming convention. Both feel like alleys. Hollywood especially is a favorite bike route for detouring around one of those stretches of road urban cyclists will nod about, knowingly – places built for cars that cyclists need to detour around.

But the best bit is the little cut-through between them. Perhaps 50 feet long, accessible only to pedestrians and bicycles, a square wooden bollard on either end. My bike in the picture above is parked a the Soto (south) end.

Bollards are always a clue. Look for the bollards, and when you see them, go that way.


One Comment

  1. I campaigned along Hollywood some years ago, knocking on every door. Did you also find Pyongyang Street and New York Avenue.

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