23 May 2006

[Address_Nerd] Portland Signs: N. Benton Avenue

North Benton Avenue signs, courtesy of the lovely and talented Stan Kost.

North Benton Avenue is a short street, limited to just a couple of long blocks just north of the Rose Quarter. It runs parallel to the Willamette River, as it was part of the original plats of the city once known as Albina, and crosses N. Broadway just before the intersection with Interstate Avenue and the Broadway Bridge.

It defines the 400 block on N. Broadway.

Benton is a name which looms large not only in Oregon and the Willamette Valley (we have a county named Benton, centered on Corvallis) but in the American West (there is a Benton County we're familiar with in Washington state and some others in other states).

The man who it was named for, Thomas Hart Benton (1782-1858), was a United States Senator from Missouri who served for thirty years. He and a certain Senator Lewis Linn, also of Missouri, were strong advocates for the inclusion of the Oregon Country into the United States. He also advocated for the Donation Land Claim system, which allocated free land to settlers coming to Oregon, thus forming the basis for a great deal of settlement in the Valley (the city of Portland's original land covered two DLC's, one which today is downtown Portland south of Burnside, the other Old Town and central NW Portland.

Today the main function of N Benton Avenue is to allow access to the parking garages north of the Memorial Coliseum along Broadway and the Portland Public Schools headquarters building, which is located along N. Dixon Street, one block north of Broadway, via Benton.

The photo up top contains two blades, which illustrates a notable style variation. Typically the street type is two letters only, in this case it would be "AV" (as on the left). The sign on the right uses a three letter abbreviation, "AVE". This is nontypical style for Portland street blades.


stan said...

Ah, so you did notice why I had two different photos of Benton Av./Ave. :)

Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis said...

Yawp. At least, the street signs in Portland are so uniform the smallest difference seems to stick out like a sore thumb, usually leaving me to wonder why they did that.

Good catch on you, for what that's worth.