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Proposed Book Review
Portland Names and Neighborhoods: Their Historic OriginsThis is a fascinating book, even with its somewhat dry reading, pedestrian writing, and useless index. Both long-time Portland residents and new Portland residents will learn something about Portland and its history that they didn't know before, as will visitors to Portland.
The main sections of this book are as follows:
1. Styles in Street Naming
2. Plats and Growth
3. Some Noteworthy Neighborhoods
4. Names Changed, Lost, and Missing
5. The Street Names
6. School Names
7. Park Names
Section 1, Styles in Street Naming, provides the background to understand how and why Portland streets are named as they are. These styles describe the patterns in Philadelphia, Boston, and New York and are the basis of most street patterns in the United States .
The Philadelphia pattern moved westward with the frontier (and Portland), finally reaching the Pacific Ocean. The streets running north-south were given numbers. The streets running east-west were given names: important personages, trees, local history, and so on. Occasionally, a numbered street was given a name. In Portland, for example, Broadway originally was named Seventh Street. It remained so until 1913 when the Broadway Bridge was completed, which brought a great flow of streetcar and vehicular traffic onto Seventh Street. City planners decide to widen Seventh street, making it a "broad way."
In New England, it was customary to use names on every street, no matter which direction the street ran. Boston was the model for this arrangement. One would have expected Portland's street pattern to be modeled on Boston (or Portland, Maine); however, the irregular land forms of Boston and Portland, Maine made those cities unique and unsuitable for universal models. (California cities seem to follow this model.)
New York City took the middle ground and numbered its streets in each direction. Their were some aberrations: Fourth Avenue has been named Lexington Avenue, and an extra avenue, Park Avenue, has been inserted in the midst of the numbered sequence.
One final note: The book was published in 1970, nearly forty years ago. As such, some of the information either is out of date or not up to date.
Plats and Growth
Some Noteworthy Neighborhoods
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