Clark Avenue is no more

Dear Editor:According to long-lived Marian Wilson Jones, an early Downey historian, Clark Avenue was named for Montana Sen. William A. Clark - known sometimes as the "Copper King" who sometime in the 1920s had purchased a huge acreage in the area between Long Beach and North Bellflower. The name Clark must have been used by locals in that area to honor the senator. I agree with Hugh Hoskins who wrote so cogently about leaving historic things alone if at all possible in last week's Patriot. ("Opposes Street Renaming," 10/16/09) Let's use our best effort to place the name Columbia within the confines of the place where the Space Age grew up in Downey. - John Vincent, President, Downey Historical Society

Dear Editor: It is encouraging that the City Council ultimately showed the courage and leadership to follow through on the proposal to change the name of Clark Avenue to Columbia Way. ("Clark Avenue Officially Changed to Columbia Way," www.thedowneypatriot.com) Claims that the name change would be confusing leave one wondering about the intelligence of the citizenry opposing this worthy and valid change. Are Downey folk somehow more disposed to confusion than say, East Los Angeles inhabitants, who survived quite nicely the change of Brooklyn Boulevard to Cesar Chavez Boulevard? Changing the name of a street, even in a small town, is not a joke. Rather, it's a very serious matter. A city's street names are markers of its unique history and culture. History is an eternal continuum of time, and culture changes with time and historic events. While it was appropriate, respectful, and correct to honor the contributions of a former U.S. Senator by naming a street after him, the last 40 or so years of history on that street warrant a change in its name. It was on Clark Avenue in Downey that the world saw a revolution in aeronautical engineering that produced the historic space shuttle program. With this in mind, it is indeed fitting that the street's name now be changed to honor the designers, the engineers, the workers, and of course the heroic crew of a space ship whose name will continue to be historic for some time to come. - Michael Parmer, Downey

********** Published: October 23, 2009 - Volume 8 - Issue 27