A sixteen horse team stands in front of the Durbin's Livery Barn in Salem during a heavy snow storm on Jan. 20, 1895. (Ben Maxwell collection/Salem Public Library)

In 2019, the Salem Main Street Association asked residents to suggest names for downtown alleys and vote for their favorites. About 600 people weighed in. As part of Salem Reporter’s local history series, Jacqueline Heavey, chair of the design committee for the project, explains the history behind the chosen alley names with historic photos. 

Alley 4 is bounded by Commercial, Court, Liberty and State Streets. The winning name was Durbin's Alley. This alley was named for the Durbin Brother’s Livery located at 120 Commercial St.

The Durbin Brother’s had a wooden building at the corner of State and Commercial Streets by the early 1860’s. The wooden structure burned in 1867, and the brothers built a new, brick livery near the same spot that year.

A photo of the early business district in Salem, Oregon, looks north on Commercial Street from the intersection with State. It was taken circa 1886; the business in the foreground is not in the 1889 city directory, but the R.M. Wade & Company, carrying hardware and farm implements, is listed at 282-286 Commercial and can be seen further down the block. (Ben Maxwell collection/Salem Public Library)

The building is still there, though heavily remodeled. Currently, in the front of the old Durbin's Livery is the Masonry Grill restaurant and in the back of the remodeled building along Durbin's Alley is Alleycat bar.

An Oct. 24, 1879 article in the Weekly Oregon Statesman describes a minor injury at Durbin's Livery.

Alley 5 is bounded by Liberty, Court, High, and State Streets. The winning name was Cherry Lane. This alley was named after Salem’s nickname of “Cherry City” for the many cherry orchards found throughout the area. Salem’s official title of “Cherry City of the World” was given in 1907. Salem celebrated this heritage with a citywide Cherry Fair (1903-1950) that included carnivals, dances and parades. The Willamette Valley Cherry Growers and Oregon State University became well-known for developing a new brining method for creating maraschino cherries.

A large crowd of men and women face a podium where the Cherry Fair royalty are standing along High Street in 1908. Conspicuous are the long gowns and women's hats of the period. A grocery store and drug store are seen in the background. Carriages are also visible toward the back of the crowd. (Ben Maxwell collection/Salem Public Library)

A parade at the Salem Cherry Fair in 1903. Street car tracks which were on State, Commercial, and Center Streets are visible. The mounted men were dressed as sailors. In the parade were people who wore tricorn hat and were dressed as cowboys. (Ben Maxwell collection/Salem Public Library)

Other alley name histories

New alley names pay homage to city's first steel building, theater that burned

Salem's alley names provide a glimpse into the past

Editor's note: This column is a feature from Salem Reporter to highlight local history in collaboration with area historians and historical organizations. If you have any feedback or would like to participate, please contact managing editor Rachel Alexander at [email protected]

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