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Alphabet District Street Names

ANKENY (the only street south of Burnside included in the Alphabet streets) – Named after Alexander P. Ankeny, a river boat captain and the captain of a Yamhill County volunteer company in the 1855-56 Indian Wars.

BURNSIDE – Named after David W. Burnside, an early Portland merchant, NOT after Civil War Gen. Ambrose Burnside of mutton-chop sideburns fame.

COUCH – John H. Couch (pronounced “Cooch” NOT “Cowch”) a sea captain who first sailed to Oregon in 1839-40 and saw promise in Portland. Responsible for establishing the alphabet streets running west of the Willamette River. Before 1891, the streets were simply called “A”, “B”, “C” and so on. With the Great Renaming of 1891, city officials renamed the streets after various luminaries.

DAVIS – Anthony I. Davis, who arrived in 1850, was the director of Portland’s first public school, its first justice of the peace, and later on, city recorder.

EVERETT – Edward Everett was a Portland businessman in 1880’s and 90’s.

FLANDERS – George H. Flanders was first mate to Couch on his first sail to Oregon. He was also Couch’s brother-in-law and business partner.

GLISAN – Rodney Glisan was a physician, an 1865 founding faculty member of the Willamette Univesity Medical School, and son-in-law of Couch.

HOYT – Richard Hoyt was a riverboat captain who arrived in 1851, organized the Columbia Steam Navigation Co. in 1857.

IRVING – William Irving was a sea captain and riverboat captain, and a friend/business partner of Hoyt. His donation land claim became the Irvington neighborhood in NE Portland. In 1878, he sold his Oregon interests and moved to British Columbia where he built the first steamboat to operate on the Fraser River.

JOHNSON – Arthur Harrison Johnson was a butcher and land developer. A.H. Johnson’s Meat Market was an original tenant of the New Market Theater building.

KEARNEY – Edward Smith Kearney was U.S. marshal for Oregon 1880-84, and later a prominent buinessman.

LOVEJOY – Asa Lovejoy, original founder of Portland and prominent Oregon politician.

MARSHALL – John Marshall was a riverboat captain and NW Portland resident. The street may also be named for a Capt. George Marshall or a Thomas Marshall.

NORTHRUP – Edward J. Northrup was a pioneer hardware merchant and owned a company that built carriages and wagons.

OVERTON – William Overton, original founder of Portland.

PETTYGROVE – Francis Pettygrove, original founder of Portland.

QUIMBY – L.P.W. Quimby was an early innkeeper, owning at various times the American Exchange Hotel, the Phoenix Hotel and the Quimby House.

RALEIGH – A.E. Raleigh was deputy superintendent of streets in 1891. Patrick Raleigh was an early merchant, but didn’t stay long, A.E. is most likely the namesake.

SAVIER – Thomas A. Savier was a merchant and sometime business partner of D.W. Burnside.

THURMAN – G. William Thurman was a telegraph executive and close friend of street superintendent Douglas Taylor – in charge of the 1891 renaming, Taylor included his friend.

UPSHUR – Abel Parker Upshur was a Virginia statesman, secretary of the Navy and later secretary of state under President John Tyler. He was “a great friend of the Oregon Territory and an ardent advocate of bringing it into the United States.” – Eugene E. Snyder, “Portland Names and Neighborhoods” (Binford & Mort, 1979).

VAUGHN – George W. Vaughn was a merchant and mayor. The Oregonian called him “one of the progressive businessmen of early Portland.”

WILSON – Robert Bruce Wilson was a physician and son-in-law of John Couch.

ROOSEVELT – named after Pres. Theodore Roosevelt – the street that should have been named “X” was named in his honor in 1903.

YORK – was an African-American explorer best known for his participation with the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

REED – Simeon G. Reed was a merchant, investor, and benefactor of Reed College. Reed Street was named in 1883 before the 1891 renaming, so it remained.