Salem Alley Days

Why Celebrate Alleys?

In the last few years, local businesses have discovered Salem’s downtown alleyways and have begun capitalizing on their presence along them. Tables and chairs have appeared, and event venues have popped up. Customers are wandering through the alleys looking to explore what is there. All of this has occurred because local businesses and their customers understand the value of alleys; they provide diversity and variety to the downtown streetscape; they are calmer and more intimate than street fronts and they provide more frequent and more direct routes for pedestrians. SMSA wants to encourage this trend.

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Why Name the Alleys?

Naming a place gives power and identity. Naming recognizes otherwise hidden or forgotten places and brings energy to those places.

Naming is:

  • A recognized tool in activating underutilized spaces in downtown.
  • An opportunity to honor local history, culture and geographic features
  • A way to talk about and find the businesses located on the alleys and encourages more businesses to locate along them.


What Have We Done So Far?

SMSA began the process to further enliven and activate Salem alleys by researching activities of other communities related to alley development. After determining that naming downtown alleys would be an appropriate first step for ​Salem Alley Days​, SMSA identified the Downtown Historic District as a target area and developed a list of potential alley names. SMSA solicited input on the list of proposed names from the Community Development Department’s Historic Planning Staff. The staff responded with an evaluation of the potential names and added further suggestions and research. As a result of research by the Historic Planning Staff, there are currently a total of eight alleys to be named.

SMSA sent a mailing out to business owners and property owners with some of the historically referenced names asking for support for naming the alleys. SMSA Design Committee members personally visited business owners to answer questions or provide additional information. These visits resulted in positive comments and support for the alley naming project.

SMSA then developed criteria to be used to choose final names of alleys. Names are intended to reflect the local history of the federally designated Downtown Historic District, whose boundaries are indicated on the attached map.

Those criteria include:

  • Names that reflect local historic or cultural significance, (i.e. A significant building or person which had a strong influence on the development of the area during the historic period).
  • The historical common name used for the alley. (i.e. Typically referencing a physically defining feature within the alley evident during the historic period; or a name reflecting the historic use of the alley; or the name of a historic geographic area within the vicinity of the current alley).
  • For the purposes of naming alleys “historic period” will be defined as 1950 or earlier.

Based on the above criteria, SMSA has eight alleys that have historically referenced names. This historic information will be shared with the public during ​Salem Alley Days​. These names and information will also become part of the alley naming process.

The eight alleys will be named in early fall, after a public input survey, a public vote, and Salem Alley Days​ events are completed.

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What’s Next?

  • June 10

    Salem Alley Days​ Proclamation

  • June 14 – July 12

    Public Input Survey. We are asking the public to provide alley name suggestions that meet the historical criteria.

  • July 13 – August 1

    Tally of Public Input Survey

  • August 7 – September 4

    Public Voting (see blue button below). We are asking the public to vote on the historical vetted alley names.

  • Mid-September

    Final results of the community vote will be tallied.

  • October

    SMSA Board Meeting to select final names from the voting tallies based on survey and naming criteria.

  • November – December

    Work with the City of Salem to develop signage and wayfinding for selected names.

Naming Criteria Salem Alley Days Map Proclamation Historic Names Report SMSA Process Salem Alley Days Voting