Google’s mystery creeks

July 8, 2008

Where did all the creeks go? That’s what I’m wondering, thanks to a Google terrain map of my Northeast Portland neighborhood.

Zoomed in as close as I can get, I see unlabeled squiggly lines in several parts of Irvington that typically indicate water’s fickle flow. One crosses my street a few houses to the south. Yet no creek exists.

The neighborhood has been developed for many decades. My house was built in the 1920s. The neighbor’s house across the street was built in the 1910s. I see no evidence of vacant land anywhere that once accommodated meandering water routes.

No doubt Google has access to maps based on contemporary survey data. So why the tease to what use to be?

Imagine if the creeks returned one day, adding geographic variety — and potentially rain-swollen chaos — to our neat and symetrically plotted urban lots. I feel a petition drive and bumper sticker sale coming on.