We don’t know the “Number Man’s” name, but after some digging we do now know what he was doing and what the numbers mean. As many have suggested on this site, the numbers are related to City public works projects. In the photograph below you can see the “Number Man” holding a sign with number 234 which corresponds to NE Beech and Union. Below that is a portion of the Public Works map for the street widening project. You’ll notice his number corresponds to the map’s number for the lot at the northeast corner of the intersection. The lengthy project records for the widening of Union (MLK) from NE Going to SE Lincoln include a text description and a number for each property affected by the widening project. For major projects such as street widening, the Department of Public Works created maps showing the affected properties and gave numbers to the corresponding locations. Public Works also created many records that describe the value of each property and how the owners would be compensated for their losses.
3708 NE MLK (at Beech), 1929 : A2009-009.1014
Partial map (3708 NE MLK), 1929 : C 4331
View this image on Efiles by clicking here.