By Doug Decker | Historian
Last month, we reported on Vernon School in anticipation of its 111th anniversary. Speaking of Vernon, doesn’t Vernon Avenue sound like a street that you should know its location – especially since Portland has an entire neighborhood named Vernon?
That street name is just an echo today because the actual Vernon Avenue was silenced Sept. 2, 1931. That’s when city council passed Ordinance 61325 readdressing all of Portland’s streets and calling for multiple street name changes.
Before the renumbering ordinance, there was no predictable and systematic addressing system, which left everyone confused, including police, fire and the U.S. Postal Service. The great readdressing of Portland’s streets in 1931 was long overdue and helpful. But losing the name of your street, that one really stung.
That street name is just an echo today because the actual Vernon Avenue was silenced Sept. 2, 1931.
One of the 1931 rules aimed at orderliness required that streets between any consecutively numbered street – in our case between 14th and 15th avenues, which is where Vernon Avenue existed – had to be renamed with a number and given the designation “Place.”
As a result, the six-block Vernon Avenue went extinct and became today’s 14th Place, running between Prescott and Killingsworth streets.
In January 1933, neighbors along Vernon Avenue – angry about the change and still using their original addresses in resistance – presented a petition to city council protesting the switch. But city council denied the petition, saying an exception could not be made.
We haven’t yet come across anything on the record about how neighbors responded to that denial. Eventually the passage of time dulled the loss as Vernon Avenue families grew old, grew up and moved on. But it’s worth noting that stories in The Oregonian, well into the 1940s, referred to addresses on Vernon Avenue when reporting births, marriages, deaths and social occasions.
Long live Vernon Avenue!
Doug Decker initiated his blog AlamedaHistory.org in 2007 to collect and share knowledge about the life of old houses, buildings and neighborhoods in northeast Portland. His basic notion is that insight to the past adds new meaning to the present. If you have a question for him to answer in CNews, send it to CNewsEditor@ConcordiaPDX. com.