By Doug Decker | Historian
The question: OK, I know this might seem obvious, but is it really? Where does our name Concordia come from and what were we called before that? – Dan Werle
The historian reports: No surprises here, Dan. Ye s , t h e neighborhood we think of today as Concordia takes it s na me f rom Concordia University.
Opened in 1905 on six acres of land that was then at the edge of Portland city limits, Concordia College was a simple two-story wood frame building that was home to the Oregon and Washington District of the Synod of the Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
Operating primarily as a high school program for young men until the 1950s, Concordia gradually evolved into a junior college, added a co-ed mission and additional facilities in the 1950s, and became a full-fledged four-year college in 1977.
Along the way as Concordia’s physical presence began to expand, the adjacent neighborhood took on its name, as in “We live over near Concordia.” The first official reference we could find either in reporting or city reference to the Concordia neighborhood is the mid1970s. But here’s where it gets interesting. Before being known as Concordia, our area had several names, all stemming from the titles of the survey plats filed by real estate developers.
These names are lost to history today, but back then you probably would have told someone you lived in Irvington Park (not to be confused with Irvington), or in the Town of Creighton, or the Heidelberg Addition, or maybe the Foxchase Addition.
All four are underlying plat names filed by developers who built the streets, alleys and houses in what we think of as Concordia today.
In those days – whatever you called it – our neighborhood was nearly off the radar screen, at the far end of the streetcar line, beyond the sewer and water system.
Here’s how the July 23, 1911, issue of The Oregonian described the early neighborhood: “Extensive improvements are being made in that portion of Irvington Park near the Concordia College building. This part is out in the open ground. Here the streets are being graded and cement sidewalks are being laid.
“Twelve cottages, costing on an average of $2,000 each, have already been built in this new part of Irvington Park. Last week an eight-inch water main was laid on East Thirtieth street north nearly to the Concordia College building, which will greatly increase the water supply of that territory.”
Editor’s note: If you have a question for the neighborhood historian, send it to NewsEditor@ConcordiaPDX.org, for Doug to do some digging. Check out his blog for more on local history at AlamedaHistory.org. If you enter the search term “plat,” you’ll learn more about the obscure names that once defined this area.