10 July 2005

[geography] The Address Nerd on East Portland Named Streets

Of course (continuing the theme from the last) crossing our numbered Avenues in Portland are named Streets. Not only do they proceed in the orderly 20-standard-block-per-mile order than the Avenues do, the major traffic trunks mark off predictably at 500's.

Going north from Burnside (zero-hundred), we have: NE Glisan (500), NE Holladay (1000), NE Halsey (1500), then no real main e-w streets until N & NE Fremont (3500), N & NE Prescott (4500), N & NE Killingsworth (5500), N & NE Portland Blvd (6000), N & NE Ainsworth (6500), N & NE Lombard (7500). Going south from Burnside we have SE Stark (500), SE Hawthorne Blvd (1500), SE Division (2500), SE Powell (3500), SE Holgate Blvd (4500), SE Harold St (5500), SE Duke (6500), SE Bybee Blvd (7000), and SE Flavel St (7500).

Of these streets, SE Stark is somewhat priviledged. In the last entry, it will be remembered, I skeched a thumbnail of the Public Lands Survey, and mentioned the "baseline", from which all townships and ranges are measured. Stark Street falls on that baseline. Any e-w street that is parallel at 20 block intervals falls on a section line. Take a map of Portland, draw straight lines along those named streets and along numbered avenues ending in 2, and the pattern of section lines that undergird public surveying in the Portland area-and by extension, all of Oregon and Washington (the territory governed by the Willamette Meridian and Base Line) will appear.

By the way, ever wonder what SE Division Street divides? Sitting as it does as the 2500 block, 20 blocks and therefore one mile south of Stark, it is on a section line. Its historic name was Section Line Road. I also believe the outer reaches of what we today call SE Stark Street was called Base Line Road (there is a Base Line Road in Hood River County which, as being surveyed to follow the Willamette Base Line, lines exactly up with SE Stark Street in Multnomah County).

This lovely and neat ordering does not apply in the area west of Williams Avenue...what we call the Peninsula and what me and some of my waggish friends call The Thumb) where the grids tend to swivel and warp to align, at least somewhat, with the trend of the river) or anywhere on the west side outside of the order of downtown and Northwest Portland. You on you own out there.

Oh, and one more neat bit of trivia. NE Holman Street is the 6300 book-that is, 63 standard blocks north of the Burnside address baseline. The street that just so happens to be 63 standard blocks south of Burnside is SE Tolman Street.

Holman, 6300 north. Tolman, 6300 south.

I'm pretty sure it just worked out that way.

1 comment:

brett said...

great info. thanks.

i like the historical address anecdote about street numbers. in older portland, the white ceramic house numbers were given to the first owner when the house was built by the city.