30 August 2005

[Address_Nerd] History In The Curbstones

The recent dry period here at this Breaking News (CUE FOXIFIED GRAPHIC) site has nothing to do with a lack of material. Actually, in my spare time I'm as busy as a designer not yet employed in graphic design (remember, potential employers, I know Adobe CS2, QuarkXPress 6.5, and, oh, how to design something, check out my portfolio) can be. Me and a group of people whose shoes I am not actually qualified to kiss are getting together a little project whose launching is imminent (more on this later).

I guess I get a little distracted.

Anyway, I told you that to tell you this: I got a great attention getter yesterday, in the form of a communiqué from Special Agent Mike Landfair...you know him as Mover Mike. He sent me the following email:
When you go west from 33rd ave between Knott and Thompson, the maps show 33rd, 32nd Place, 32nd Court and 32nd Avenue. There are still names on the street corners in the cement, however, that show for two blocks 32nd Place is called Glenn Ave N.. In the cement at 32nd Court and Brazee, the name is E 32nd Court. The sidewalks say 1928. Most of the homes appear to be dated from 1926 or thereabouts, with the old Dolph Farm house still standing, built in 1895, and now being historically remodeled on 32nd Ave between Brazee and Knott.
The date, 1928, is notable because, as one may recall from past Nerdery, we learned in Snyder that the Portland street name and address system was rationalized into its present form circa 1930-33. Addresses and street names worked on a system that was borne of necessity of merging the seminal municipalities of Portland, East Portland, and Albina together–but it wasn't the final form. There was an intermediate method in the years circa 1890-1930.

Records of what these streets were named can be found in the curbstones, quite a few of which exist from before 1930.

For instance, on some parts of SE 11th Avenue one can look down and see "E 11th Street" imprinted there (yes, "Street", not "Avenue"). Some named streets were similarly prefixed ("E Morrison Street" vice "SE Morrison St"). I have been on NE 11th Avenue and seen the stamp "E 11th St N". Other areas showed named streets–in the beginning, there were no rules at all about naming streets, and each developer in each subdivision was pretty much free to name streets whatever they wanted.

And even stranger are some streets in the area south of Holgate Blvd east of SE 39th Avenue and west of about SE 82nd Avenue. Several corners proclaim SE 52nd Avenue as "52nd Street SE", and places on SE Duke Street are identified as being on "65th Avenue SE".

The whys of some of this aren't known, but the patterns of these are a matter of some record. And that will be the topic of my next session of Nerdery.

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