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Short & Sweet - Some of SB's Shortest Streets
updated: Jan 21, 2012, 9:30 AM

By the Urban Hikers, Peter Hartmann & Stacey Wright

This week we introduce you to part of our collection of the shortest streets in Santa Barbara. Unless you live, work, or deliver mail on one of these streets, it's likely that you rarely (if ever!) travel these little gems. Some are dead ends, and others connect to much busier streets. Many of them are avenues, some are drives, others are roads or streets, and then there are the lanes and ways. We chose the headline photo for our story because we believe it just may be the character for "short street"...but then again, maybe not. It is, however, located on one of the short streets in this story, and we're not telling which one. If you want to see it, you've got to go out and find it for yourself.

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We'll start by telling you about all of the avenues. It seems ironic that the highest percentage of short streets in town are avenues, because for us an avenue conjures up a broad dignified roadway...but hey, at least we didn't find a "shortie" that's a boulevard.

We found two one-block avenues that backed up into each other and thought that was pretty special. They are Alberta Ave. and Cook Ave. This is what they look like where they meet.

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This is what the 2-blocks look like going in each direction.

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For each of the "shorties" we share with you here, we'll show you a photo of the street sign, a view of the entire street, and an image of one interesting thing we found along that street. Oddly, several of our "shorties" are home to a "little or loud" feature. The only one we've included in a past story is the little bungalow court, but that isn't on an avenue, so more on that when we get to the streets...

Alberta Avenue.

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Cook Avenue.

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This is Myrtle Avenue. As you can see, it dead ends at the railroad tracks, and on the day we were out taking photos of Myrtle, the railroad tie machine that an Edhat subscriber told us about on Monday (1/16/12) had made its way to the tracks at the end of the road.

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La Paz is an avenue, but it's also a "public alley". It's also quintessentially short & sweet.

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And then there's Fletcher Avenue, childhood home of one of the Urban Hikers in the very early 1960's. Today Fletcher consists of medical offices, apartments, and a few of the original single family homes. We were happy to see this nostalgic old place still serving as home to someone.

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The last of our featured avenues is Western Ave. Neither of us ever lived in this little home, but we think it's pretty darn sweet anyway.

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Next are the drives...we have three of them to tell you about. We'll begin with Balboa Drive. As you might have guessed, it's on the Mesa. We think the motor home says it all about living on the Mesa -- life's a beach.

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We believe Gravilla Drive is the shortest of our short streets. It's adjacent to McKinley School, and until we took our official hike of the neighborhood, we didn't realize it even had a name.

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Park Way Drive is a short street with the distinction of being a way, a drive and a lane. It's home to the Big Ugly, and is one of those streets best hiked. As you can see, the residents don't welcome visiting motor vehicles.

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Our two roads are Wilson and Rey. If you participated in March Edness last year you were probably stumped by the little dolphin fountain on Wilson Street.

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And we also recall the smoke stack was in last year's March Edness, but we figure most people got that one. What you might not have known until today is that it's located on a short little street called Rey Road.

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We have but two short streets to tell you about. The first one, Cottage Grove Street may be one you've passed by dozens of times without even noticing it. As you exit the Northbound 101 at Bath Street, just as you come off the ramp, quaint little Cottage Grove Street sits at your right shoulder. We wonder how it got its sweet little name.

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Montgomery Street is home to the most wonderful little bungalow court. It's definitely worth a hike if you've never been on this Upper East little street.

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Our only lane "shortie," Shasta Lane is also in the very peaceful Upper East and is home to a "loud" little garage. We like it.

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And last, but certainly not least, we bring you one little way - Tinker Way. What a darling name for a darling little street. And honestly, isn't this the most delightful little house??

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As always we encourage you to go out and explore the city, meet your neighbors, keep your eyes, ears and minds open to all that you encounter. Above all, expect the unexpected.

Comments in order of when they were received | (reverse order)

 COMMENT 250540P agree helpful negative off topic

2012-01-21 09:52 AM

Love all the UH posts. I grew up in the flatlands of the San Fernando Valley, where Avenues run north-south, Streets run east-west and Boulevards are big, like Ventura or Van Nuys. Anything called Lane, Drive, Way, Road, etc. was reserved for the more expensive streets in the fancier hillside neighborhoods.


 COMMENT 250557 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-01-21 10:13 AM

I grew up on a 'shorty' --one block long, neighbors who all knew each other, and huge sycamores lining the sidewalk. Bennett Way, in San Jose's neighborhood of Willow Glen. Nice in that it felt self-contained. Didn't wander off into the distance. It felt special--our own Middle Kingdom--as kids.

Now I live at the end of another one-block, "no outlet" shorty.


 COMMENT 250561 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-01-21 10:18 AM

You missed Rossier Lane, probably the shortest public named street in town. And only half a block from State Street.


 COMMENT 250566P agree helpful negative off topic

2012-01-21 10:41 AM

Colina Lane off Alta Vista is another very short street a few hundred yards at most.


 COMMENT 250570 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-01-21 11:12 AM

You forgot Wyola Road.


 COMMENT 250615 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-01-21 12:09 PM

Salsbury Haley was sittin a pub in SF reading the paper when he saw an ad for a street-surveyer for SB...he had no exp. but that never stopped anyone,so he aplied,got the job & hired Chumash folks to assist....
We [Chumash] did`nt care if the job was done well or not,& neither did Salsbury!...he did the job [see results for yourself], got his $$ & skipped town,never to be heard from again.
We [Chumash] did get Anapamu st. as a bribe [we bribed S.H.] to assign it as the E./W. layline of the city, but it`s not.


 COMMENT 250618 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-01-21 12:10 PM

Urban Hikers here. Eventhough we have walked all of the short streets in the city, when we first conceived of this article we had forgotten how many of these short streets there actually are. In order to keep this article to a reasonable lenght, we decided to only cover a small fraction of these delightful streets. In the future, we plan on covering more of these interesting short streets.


 COMMENT 250623 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-01-21 12:18 PM

Love it! Great tour of tiny streets.


 COMMENT 250645 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-01-21 01:16 PM

It's not as interesting as the "shorties" you covered in your article, but Ukiah St. is the shortest street I know. It is located at the end of Turnpike where the bike path starts (ocean-end).


 COMMENT 250670 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-01-21 03:35 PM

How about Ruth Ave. or Baby Ruth as it should be known:)


 COMMENT 250671 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-01-21 03:41 PM

Presidio Ave is pretty short and the oldest I think.


 COMMENT 250709P agree helpful negative off topic

2012-01-21 10:01 PM

Love these types of articles - thank you very much.


 COMMENT 250733 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-01-22 08:39 AM

Another delightful article from the UH. So many wonderful little nuggets and gems that make up this city are overlooked as we fly by in our cars. But Peter and Stacey aren't missing a thing and are providing an amazing record of Santa Barbara in the early 21st century.

I'm working on the stories behind all of these little streets for Volume Two of Santa Barbara Street Names but some are real stubborn and don't want to reveal anything of their past. We'll see! There's almost always a clue.

Not to be contrary and perhaps get banned, but 250615 has no idea what he/she is talking about. The only thing correct in that comment is that Salisbury Haley was hired to conduct a survey.
- Neal


 COMMENT 250740P agree helpful negative off topic

2012-01-22 09:04 AM

What about American Avenue, between Padre and Los Olivos off Chapala? It is 1/2 block long. Nearby is Wellington Avenue, between Pueblo and Junipero, State and Chapala.


 COMMENT 250745 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-01-22 09:28 AM

I live on a shortie -upper state-area. It's a race track! Love your cute article. I'd love it more if you came up with a slogan "see houses on your commute? It's someones neighborhood, please slow down or no need to gear up and roar down this short street".
I'm sure you can up with something far more catchy. But you get the point. Fun article! I'm tired of gas guzzler John Wiley pics. Green urban hikers are more like it!


 COMMENT 250748 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-01-22 09:33 AM

Thanks Neal, I thought so. Thanks to the Urban Hikers for a fun tour.


 COMMENT 250795P agree helpful negative off topic

2012-01-22 12:27 PM

Great tour! And don't forget Equestrian Avenue. Looks like you have enough shorties to do a follow-up article. Hint, hint....


 COMMENT 250804 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-01-22 12:56 PM

Then there are De La Vista and Morrison Avenues on the east side...


 COMMENT 250806 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-01-22 01:02 PM

Green Lane -Upper Eastside
Orella Ave- Upper Westside
Villa Ave.-Westside
The eastside has so many 1 block streets like Elizabeth St between Gutierrez and Montecito and Melifont and Soledad...


 COMMENT 250809 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-01-22 01:40 PM

I like Bonita Way, Bonita Plaza & Sierra St. ;-)


 COMMENT 250852 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-01-22 08:37 PM

UH here - In response in to our appreciated commenters: Yep,yep, yep and nope. Yep, there are still a lot of wonderful little streets that deserve inclusion in a future story about short & sweet streets in SB. We're very lucky because we've already had the pleasure of hiking every street mentioned (except for Ukiah, which is in the County...maybe someday...). So yep, we'll do at least one follow-up and include your suggested "shorties". Yep to the opinion that people drive way, way too fast. It often creates a danger to others, PLUS if you're whizzing past something of interest you'll never even have an opportunity to see it. And lastly, nope to the suggestion that our mode of transport and documentation of the town is superior to anybody else's. Admittedly, we like to travel on foot, but we also very much appreciate John Wiley's photo documentation of our community and its surrounding areas. For what it's worth, we suspect that like us, he goes out on a jaunt and takes a whole bunch of photos, which he uses in numerous posts. So, it may seems that he's "guzzling gas" but we bet he's making good use of the time he's up in the air. We appreciate all perspectives of this areas, and know that future generations will likewise appreciate the images he provides us.


 COMMENT 250856 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-01-22 09:43 PM

thanks, urban hikers! i love what you do. more sweet shorties to add to your list: panchita place & donze ave. looking forward to your next post.


 COMMENT 250983 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-01-23 01:09 PM

Sweetest short street in SB IMO..Junipero Plaza..one block from Mission..vintage old homes on this classy street.


 COMMENT 251055 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-01-23 05:04 PM

I am Dumb-Dumb [615]
If a person wanted to learn the history of SB, the info can be found online,or in a library...but these accounts are`nt always accurate. My knowledge on historical matters does`nt come from the re-telling of a book.
Forgive my intrusion [N.G] into your circle of thought...
The floor is yours once again.


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