Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Portland history and geography: Seventh and Magnolia.

It took me a long time to notice that the sidewalk on the corner in front of my house says MAGNOLIA. It took me about ten months, in fact. But then I noticed it and I got all excited, because that means that before this was Rosa Parks Way, and before it was Portland Boulevard, it was Magnolia. Magnolia something. (They used to stamp the street name into the sidewalk, and Portland preserves these stamps as historical artifact.) So I went to Google, but I couldn't find anything. Well, I found lots of stuff, but not what I was looking for. I found this awesome website all about the Alameda neighborhood, and I found out that there is a very short S.E. Magnolia Street way the hell out off SE Johnson Road, sort of in Portland, but more in Clackamas, past Milwaukie, off 205. But no Magnolia up near here anymore.

But the magic search terms for the information I wanted were "rosa parks way portland boulevard magnolia." Once we found that, we were in the money. It took me to this, which not only lists all the Portland street names, but has so much other random great information that I haven't hardly begun to explore it all. (Go here to explore it yourself--there's a lot of information on the site, and many great links!) But I have learned, so far, that before 1891, my street was just Magnolia, and after 1891 until 1931 it was NE Magnolia STREET. But only from 6th to Durham, which is the part that's my neighborhood that's off the grid. Which makes sense. And makes me so happy. In 1891, a bunch of streets got "annexed to Portland," so starting in 1891 Portland Boulevard went all the way from Willamette Boulevard to Union (now MLK), and from there it was Magnolia from Sixth to Durham, Leland from 13th to 22nd, and North from 29th to 38th. Which must've been about as far as it went. In 1915 they made it N. Portland Blvd, then in 1932 broke it up into N and NE Portland Boulevard, and it went at least as far east as 38th. This map from 1911 shows the city boundary to the north to be Fremont, which is 15-20 blocks south of me. To the east, the map only goes as far as 41st or 42nd Avenue. This fabulous map from 1890 barely shows the east side at all, and it appears that the city limits extend to about 7th and Hawthorne to the southeast, and maybe 14th and C Street to the northeast (C for Couch, perhaps?).

Speaking of maps, and homes, this site is excellent too. I looked up my house and the property taxes, and compared my property taxes for my half-size lot with the property taxes of the much larger houses all around me. Hmph. But I do love the internets. Nice to not only have this information public, but to actually have access to it!

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