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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on September 29, 2006 8:24 AM. The previous post in this blog was Downtown decline continues. The next post in this blog is How you feelin' today?. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Friday, September 29, 2006

Rosa Parks Way

A reader writes:

I am fairly active in my Piedmont Neighborhood Association. Yesterday, Dan Saltzman met with us to discuss his decision to push for renaming a stretch of Portland Blvd (from MLK to Willamette) Rosa Parks Way. This has been pretty controversial for us, and many neighbors feel that it's being shoved down our throats and curiously, in an election year. I asked Dan what the cost would be to change all the street signs, the Interstate signage, reprinting public documents, and all the other tasks involved. He replied that no one had studied the costs, but stated that it should be between $12,000-20,000. Judging from what it costs to get public projects built, does that price range seem ridiculously low? Many of our neighbors think the money would be better spent on projects that would be less symbolic but more effective at helping disadvantaged citizens. What's your take on this?
Off the top of my head, I'm thinking the same way the reader is. What's your take?

Comments (29)

Is that $12,000-$20,000 pegged to Swiss currency?

Personally, I think we should change the name of Killingsworth. Regardless of whoever Mr. or Mrs. Killingsworth is, it's a name that evokes violence - in a community that's trying to emerge from a history of violence.

Changing Killingsworth Avenue to Rosa Parks Way (or something/anything else) would be much more than simple symbolism -- it would remove an impediment to the revitalization of the northern part of Northeast Portland.

And if it only costs $12 to 20 thousand to do that, well, it'd be money well spent.

With apologies to the Killingsworth family, whoever and wherever they may be.

The City of Portland couldn't sweep a block of either street for $12,000.

I agree with the writer. Renaming the street seems like pure shenanigans to me. Remember that great "Cheers" episode where Rebecca Howe got Sam and Woody to get in a huge fight over their titles when they really wanted raises? Instead of getting money, Woody got to be the Senior Bartender, and then Sam became the Executive Bartender, etc. But nobody got a raise.

Just a reminder that most of our civic problems can be solved by revisiting TV's great sit-coms. A lot of TV-plot stupidity manages to rear its ugly head in real life.

If you want to name something after Rosa Parks, it should have to do with mass transit. How about we call the Yellow Line the Rosa Line?

Personally, I think we should change the name of Killingsworth. Regardless of whoever Mr. or Mrs. Killingsworth is, it's a name that evokes violence - in a community that's trying to emerge from a history of violence.

15 years ago, you could have said the same thing about Alberta Street. 10 years ago you could have said the same thing about N. Mississippi St. Now both are synonymous with trendy cafes and art galleries.

That money would be better spent at actually making the street better, not engaging in some sort of absurd name change. How about using it to have a dedicated anti-graffiti crew for Killingsworth?

Killingsworth is a bad name, but you can imagine the stigma they feel over on SW Humphrey.

Of course, Portland Public Schools just opened a brand-new school in the New Columbia project named after Rosa Parks. A gorgeous building, environmentally built, keeping utilities low (Randy Gragg would like it . . . and I know that will make all of you happy) and built as a partnership with the Housing Authority and Boys and Girls Club, so the school district cut its tab dramatically. I'm always surprised when the articles about renaming the streets don't even mention this honor for Rosa Parks.

On the topic of Killingsworth -- it reminds me of Unthank Park, in the Boise-Eliot neighborhood, bordered by Haight and Failing. Some of our pioneers had rather unfortunate names.

I think Kari is referring to the actual name of the street.."Killingsworth"...not the neighborhood.
Either way, changing the name to something "PC" doesnt change the 'hood.

They did that at my kids' middle school several years ago...changed the mascot from "Centurians" to "Timberwolves" because they thought the name promoted "war" and "killing". Kinda pathetic.

And they're exploiting animals now!

agreed, the street name change its a total waste of money.

$12-$20,000 will get you some decent public art honoring rosa parks that you could place in peninsula park.

it could be a far more informative way to honor her memory.

One unusual thing about Portland, compared to other large cities, is that the City rarely renames streets after people who didn't live in Portland. (Many streets honor non-Portlanders with their original names.) No street was renamed after Franklin Roosevelt or John Kennedy, for example. Martin Luther King is the only modern exception. Wright Avenue (formerly Edison Avenue) is the only other exception I can think of.

Kari - "...it would remove an impediment to the revitalization of the northern part of Northeast Portland". Please tell me you're kidding. You think the name of the street is keeping developer $$ out? What a bunch of goobley-gook.

$15k is not a huge amount of money, but what really bothers me is this: "He replied that no one had studied the costs..." WTF? Is there ANY Portland project that gets any sort of financial scrutiny before it's proposed and/or implemented????

Renaming the Yellow Line would be perfect.

And rename Everett to James Chasse.

It's also about time we name something around here for Wayne Morse.

I would be fine changing the names of streets to honor a fine citizen so long as a private group, trust, non-profit poneyed up the money.

Wouldn't Salzman still get bragging rights if he represented that Portland would support the name change if the neighborhood could find a donor? Place the cash responsibility on the people who actually want the change.

How about renaming something downtown?

The Rosa Parks Blocks

Rosa Parks didn't focus on talk and names. She is remembered for her actions. I think we should honor her by fundraising for a future something with her name that would help African Americans in a real, practical way. What that something might be should be decided by folks in the African American community; fundraising for it would be the task of politicians who truly want to honor this American heroine. Everyone who cares would be asked to donate money or volunteer time to the project. Renaming a street is a lazy political gesture that would be a burden to those living and doing business on it, doesn't involve everyone across the city, and uses money that would be better spent in neighborhood improvement grants.

I've been thinking it would be more appropriate to name one of the major transit stations for Rosa Parks.

While we're at it, can we get an alley renamed for Vera Katz?

Alley Katz. Er... Katz Alley.

I've been thinking it would be more appropriate to name one of the major transit stations for Rosa Parks.

The new mall?

Kari, it would be nice if you knew a little bit more about Oregon and Portland history before you support throwing away one name for a street for another name.

I like Amanda's idea, and one of the things that the money could be used for is to buy folks bus tickets. I know under the old program Tri-Met and SOLV ran where you adopted a bus shelter, cleaned it weekly and picked up and disposed of trash, they sent you ten bus tickets, since so many people who volunteered already bought a bus pass many of us donated the tickets to the womens shelter or schools for field trips. I know one of the women I talked to in Parks Natural Resourses said they could do so much more with engaging school kids in doing projects in natural areas if they could only get transportation for them to and from the nature parks. These kids are being denied that opportunity because of no transportation, if they could get on the bus and ride like Rosa, it would enrich thier lives.

There are so many Oregonians deserving of recognition. I tend to be a bit parochial on the matter, but I think Wayne Morse is a great idea for immortalizing in a street name.

Sorry, we already made our street name donation - SE Clinton (for Hilary) and SE Bush (sorry for giving Mr Chisholm ammo on this one).

The City of Portland couldn't sweep a block of either street for $12,000.

Ah, but up for consideration (seriously). Charging property owners for street sweeping!

Amanda writes (Rosa Parks) is remembered for her actions. I think we should honor her by fundraising for a future something with her name...

Sarah Carlin Ames mentions the new school named for her. Why not concentrate on supporting that school to make it one of the best in the City?


If we are going to name and rename edifices, I make a motion that we rename Thomas Jefferson High School. After all, Jefferson did own slaves, you know. And that Sally Hemings thing. Definitely not a role model.

I think we should rename the school after someone who truly exemplifies equality and democracy. Some one like Samuel L Colt. Everyone knows that in the beginning, God made man, but it was Col. Colt that made them all equal.

LW wrote Kari, it would be nice if you knew a little bit more about Oregon and Portland history before you support throwing away one name for a street for another name.

Yeah, I know. Like I said, apologies to Killingsworth... that said, as Jon points out, I'm talking about the "killing" part of it. Care to enlighten the rest of us about who Mr. Killingsworth was?

Larry -- I'm not talking about developer money. I'm talking about regular folks buying homes, starting businesses, etc. Alberta might have been the "killingest street in Portland" in the mid-90s (so dubbed by KGW) but its name wasn't an impediment to revitalization. And while I'm sure that there was some public money in Alberta - the comeback there certainly wasn't a Pearl District -style developer project.

Last thought: I'm with Chris - we need to start a project to name something after Wayne Morse.


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