These generously wide sidewalks along NE Sandy Blvd at 24th Avenue are a thing of the distant past. Street widening projects plus replacement of these buildings have left significantly narrower sidewalks today.
You could make a nice cycle track out of those sidewalks, but I’d guess they were made that way so stores could put stuff outside for passers-by to purchase.
Greg: If you look at the left side panel on Google near the top you’ll see a printer icon and to the right of it a chain. If you click the chain Maps will open a little window that lets you copy the URL. If you put a click in the Short URL check box you get something like this http://goo.gl/maps/LnXhT Most people have no idea any of that is there.
I would say the wider sidewalks in the historic picture were just a placeholder for a wider roadway (curb to curb). They’d get these incremental widenings by requiring setbacks on new buildings, as I assume those in the historic picture on the right are. They’d make it a wider sidewalk in the interim, expecting that when enough buildings were out of the way, they’d then move the curb, narrowing the sidewalk back to the width it was before (about 12 feet, usually). I’m guessing the current sidewalk there (except at the curb extensions), is about 10-12 feet.