I've been working on a little mystery and now I need your help!
I was contacted by a resident of the Harvard Terrace Apartments (around 25th and Harvard) who was wanting to know what the mysterious parking lot, hidden behind the apartments, was for. She sent along this satellite image:
Here is a zoomed-in picture of it:
My first inclination was to drive by this site and see it for myself. As I drove through the streets of these wonderful, quaint apartments I couldn't see much of anything. Hidden indeed. It wasn't until I drove back to the resident parking area of the west apartments that I could make out this strange lot covered in cement. Barely. Although I was there on a bright, sunny afternoon I didn't feel right about parking and getting out of my car to investigate. I didn't want to scare any residents living there by having a stranger in their parking area get out (with a camera no less). So, I drove around to 25th Street and came upon an entrance that was gated shut. Without a doubt, it leads back to this lot, but I was not going to leave my car and traipse back there alone. Again: just didn't feel right. I drove in a semi-circle around the neighborhood and, while I'm sure those whose house backs up to this lot can see it, there is no other view of it anywhere else.
The A marks the lot. You can see the road I was talking about, that leads to it from 25th. This was also the exact line where railroad tracks used to be. It used to veer off of where they are now, in the middle of the expressway, and head north right on that route.
The first resource I used was the Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps that are available on the Library's website (you just need to have your card number to use it).
It took me quite a while to figure out the maps and find what I was looking for (but this is the stuff I love doing). The area I wanted was on 2 maps- 414 and 415 so I spliced what I wanted together to get this:
And, while the apartments and streets (and RR) are on here, there is nothing on the other side of the RR where the lot is. And I could find no other maps that continued on from that direction. If someone does know of one, please let me know.
My next stop was the downtown library to my favorite place: the 4th Floor Resource/Research area. The librarian on duty was as intrigued as I was to try and figure this one out. First she pulled up the information from the County Assessor's office and we learned who owns the property. It also shows that this has been a parking lot since 1988. And that's about it, other than tax information. OK so at least I now know who owns it. Using some other maps that she pulled from storage we learned that an oil well was once dug on this property (a long time ago). I did a little digging around on Doctors Hospital, using their vertical file and confirmed what someone had suggested (but wasn't sure)- that this whole area used to be coal mines. Newspaper articles tell about the mines when construction began on the hospital. Interesting stuff! but not the answer I am looking for.
I pulled up the zoning information from INCOG's website. No help.
The next day I visited the Land Records Dept. in the County Clerk's Office. They had no useable information either. Attempts have been made to call the owner, but no answer.
So now I am turning to you. Do you know what this cemented lot was for?