We live and work on them. We walk, bicycle, and drive on them, but how many of us know the history behind the streets of Eliot? Here, with help from the book Portland Names and Neighborhoods: Their Historical Origins, by Eugene E Snyder (Binford and Mort, 1979) are the stories of some of the neighborhood’s more well known streets.
Albina: Both the former town of Albina, which became part of Portland in 1891, and the street of the same name were named for Mrs. Albina Page, the wife of one of the founders of the town.
Williams: Named for George H. Williams, one of the founders of the town of Albina. He had a long career as a lawyer, politician, and banker. Williams relocated to Oregon from Iowa in 1853 when he was appointed Chief Justice of the Oregon Territory. He was a U.S. Senator from 1865 – 71, and served as attorney-general for President Grant from 1871 to 1874. Williams was also the mayor from 1902 – 1905.
Although he was one of the founders of Albina, he never lived here. He resided on the west side, on Third near Stark, before building a mansion at NW 18th and Couch.
Page: William H. Page, along with Williams and Russell, was one of the founders of Albina. He practiced law in Chicago, before moving to Oregon City. Page was appointed to the state supreme court by Governor Whiteaker. After completing his term on the court, he moved to Portland. It’s his wife that was the namesake of the town.
Russell: Named for Edwin Russell, one of the town’s early businessmen. He managed the Portland branch of The Bank of British Columbia, and was the third member of the group that laid out the townsite.
Vancouver: Named in 1882, Vancouver was so named because it was a route to Vancouver Washington.
Morris: Named for The Right Reverend B. Wistar Morris. In 1869, Morris founded St. Helen’s Hall, a boarding and day school at the site of what is now City Hall. He also founded Good Samaritan Hospital. He was honored with a street named after him in 1872. Morris remained a Bishop until his death in 1906, at age 87.
Rodney: This is an interesting one. Rodney Street is named for three maiden sisters who were co-founders of St. Helen’s Hall along with The Right Reverend Morris. Miss Mary Burton Rodney was principle, and Misses Clementine and Lydia Rodney served as teachers. The ladies lived at the school, and the street was named for them in 1873.
Sacramento and San Rafael: In the Albina plat of 1873 several streets were given Spanish names. They were Sacramento, San Diego (Brazee), San Marino (Knott), San Mateo (Stanton), San Rafael, Santa Barbara (Tillamook), Santa Cruz (Morris), Santa Monica (Monroe), Santa Rosa (Fargo), and San Antonio (Graham). Of these, only Sacramento and San Rafael remain, the rest having been changed throughout the years.
Union (now MLK): Union originally had several different names along different intervals of it’s long length. In 1891, city leaders decided to each street should have only one name, and christened the now united street Union, after the United States.
Fremont: Named for General John C Fremont who, when he was a captain in the Army, was an explorer of the Oregon country. He was also the Republican candidate for president in 1856, but lost to James Buchanan.
These are just some of the stories behind the streets. For further information about this, and Portland history in general, the library of the Oregon Historical Society has a myriad of information, along with people who are eager to help. And, there is no cost to use this for Multnomah County residents – just be sure to bring ID.
The Central Library also has a section devoted to Portland history. If you are looking for information about your house, a good place to start is: http://www.multcolib.org/guides/house/