Two cars traveling in opposite directions down Mulberry Street in Marietta have to use good communication skills to take turns passing, as the narrow little alley, one of dozens throughout the city, is still a two-way street.
Like some of its alley counterparts, it is also residential.
Many alleys are lined with brick or narrow strips of pavement, often with large stretches of grass and front and side doors of houses that sit right on the edge behind bushes and trees, making the entire neighborhood seem worlds away from the busy streets they connect.
Those who live there say the quaint, charming alley neighborhoods are hidden gems in the city, with small, well-kept houses that line them.
Alleyways connect Front through 10th Streets and several streets in between, making up just one more component of the grid-like street system in Marietta.
With some part of important bits of Marietta’s history and others just convenient passageways between bigger streets, some alleys are actually home to a few front doors.
Alleys of Marietta
City Councilman Harley Noland, D-At Large, said the unique layout of Marietta is the reason the city has what street officials said are some 30 to 40 alleyways.
“Marietta was a totally planned community,” he said. “Before anyone ever came out here, they mapped the terrain, and then returned those maps to Ipswich, Mass., to plan, so the city was completely laid out before anyone came here to live.”
That careful planning, Noland said, is what allowed for such perfectly perpendicular roadways.
“That’s why we have such a regular, rectangular grid pattern and perfectly straight and such wide streets that allow for these,” he said.
Not only were all those streets planned long ago, but some of them have names that tie into local history.
“Like High School Lane, which was named because it was where the original high school was built where Ely Chapman stands now, and that alley dead ends into it,” Noland said. “And Old Brewery Lane between the Campus Martius Museum and the First Settlement clinic is named because the old brewery used to sit there.”
Others, like Mulberry Street that connects Tupper and Wooster streets and Pine Alley by the river that runs off the dead end of Fifth Street to connect it with Sixth Street, Noland said, are unexplainable in terms of their names.
“They’re good places because they don’t get much traffic, and they make wonderful neighborhoods,” said Mulberry Street resident Judy Brandjes, 62, who has lived on the street in two different houses for nearly three decades.
Brandjes said residents feared that making the street one-way would encourage speeding, so the narrow two-lane road can be a bit difficult to navigate.
“Parking can be a pain,” she said. “And if two cars are coming they have to take turns passing.”
A few other alleys exist in Harmar, like Whitney Alley, which runs parallel to Maple Street.
“There’s a large gray house with white shutters down there that was the old Whitney House, named after river boat captain (James Whitney),” Noland said.
Maintenance and improvements
Marietta Streets Superintendent Todd Stockel said all alleys in Marietta are under the jurisdiction of the city, just like any other street.
“We’re working on an alleyway between Scammel and Putnam right now, and I know some private citizens in other areas that actually do some work on alleys themselves if they live there,” he said. “The problem is that if there’s only one or two houses on the street, it’s hard to put that on top of the priorities.”
Mayor Joe Matthews said during his previous administration in the late 1990s and early 2000s, he had the city working on one or two alleys at a time, and is working to start those projects up again.
“We’d go in and do the whole thing, where we would put in new drains and basins, and then strip them and put in concrete,” Matthews said. “I started doing that because for a lot of people, alleys are their front door.”
Matthews said the city’s budget does not allow for these projects to be done as frequently anymore, but every now and then the city will go out and repair potholes or major issues and relay brick if necessary.
“Hopefully moneywise, I’d love to do some stuff next year more often,” he said.
The city also widens some of the alleys to make the passageway safer.
“It is hard when you have to park on the street every day, because it’s narrow, and a lot of the time you’ll notice scratches on your car because people hit it trying to get through,” said Jyoti Sharma, 29, who moved onto Mulberry Street with her husband and children just more than a year ago.