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Friday, October 5, 2007

Lech Walesa Boulevard!

I am not making this up. The Polish-Americans from the parish of St. Stanislaus over in North Portland -- the folks who put on the annual Polish Festival, just concluded -- are opposed to renaming Interstate Avenue after Cesar Chavez. Indeed, they say they want the street rechristened for the great Polish labor and political leader and Nobel Prize winner Lech Walesa!

From Marek Stepien, head of the Polish Library Building Association, in last night's e-mail:

The Polish Community is for keeping the historical name "Interstate Avenue". Large parts of N. Interstate has been built by hard working immigrants from Central Europe, with a majority of immigrants from Poland. There are two historical Polish buildings on N Interstate (Polish Library Building, 3832 N. Interstate, and St. Stanislaus Polish Catholic Church, 3916 N. Interstate).

If Interstate must be renamed after anyone, we recommend it re-named: "Lech Walesa Boulevard," after the Nobel Peace Prize winner whose heroism helped many people leave Soviet Communism and come to Portland, and helped end the Cold War for Americans and the world.

There will be a public hearing at 6:30 pm, Tues, Oct. 9 at Ockley Green School, 6031 N. Montana. Also there will be a meeting at the Polish Library this Sunday, 1:00pm to prepare for the hearing and eventually to proceed with the name "Lech Walesa Boulevard".

This is starting to get really interesting.

Comments (38)

That's the funniest thing I've seen yet this year, and they don't even sound like they are kidding, which they shouldn't be.

Don't laugh. They are not kidding.

Interestingly, today's the 24th anniversary of Walesa's winning the Nobel Peace Prize.

At least Lech Walesa actually visited Portland, I know he visited at my daughter's school when she was in grade school (Catholic grade school). As far as I've seen, Cesar Chavez never did visit Portland.

However, my thought is that instead of renaming streets we just name the new streets after people of note. That is how and why streets like Lincoln and Washington were named, when they were first put in ... oh wait, that's right we aren't putting in any more streets just streetcars, on second thought forget it, naming a streetcar or toy train after a person of note would be an insult in my book.

At least Lech Walesa actually visited Portland

That's the thing. Streets are local, and their names should reflect local geography or history. Goldschmidt Boulevard?

More like Jailbait Street.

If we had voted for Emilie Boyles, I'm sure Walesa Boulevard would have been a done deal by now.

Whatever happened to the Avenue of the Roses ?

That's 82nd. I assume that program is still on track.

I love the idea; makes sense that is a traditionally Polish neighborhood. Walesa not Regan is the cold war hero responsible for freeing Eastern Europe from the soviets.


Can't wait for Tom "If you don't agree with me, you must be racist" Potter to weight in on this one.

If whatever special interest group wishes to change some street after Cesar Chavez, why not 82nd ave. The only thing famous about 82nd ave. is that it is located between 81st and 83rd streets. I also wish to suggest, as someone did previously to change Council Crest Dr. or Burnside to Malcolm X Blvd, and see just how much of a stink that move would create.

Reader Board Boulevard

Lech Walesa Boulevard

A thousand times...YES.

And I'm not kidding either.

Anyone who would oppose renaming Interstate Avenue after Lech Walesa is clearly anti-Polish and racist. No?

The 82nd Avenue Bus, the #72, is fondly referred to as the Jerry Springer Bus.

How 'bout a compromise:

"Bojack Boulevard"

Make up your own jokes.

As an alternative to leaving the name as it is, I applaud the proposal to name the street after Lech Walesa.

Back in Chicago, Polish heritage is respected with such street names as Solidarity Dr., Pulaski Ave. and Pope John Paul II Dr. (at least for a stretch of 43rd St.)

Portland's Polish community may be smaller than Chicago's, but it as just as proud.

Let's put our diversity dollars where our mouth is - support Lech Walesa Boulevard!

I miss the Sexy Union Ave of the 1970's and 1980's. All the street corners were filled with High Heel's and short Skirts.

I think it's a fine idea.

But I also want an Emma Goldman Avenue somewhere, and in honor of GHWB's description of Portland, a Little Beirut Boulevard.

The old system in Eastern Europe fell apart by itself, unworkable ideology, old age, decrepitude, etc. Walesa had very little to do with it, roughly as much as the old Gipper if not less. The problem with this idea is this - the guy was crass, a functional illiterate who could not even speak Polish half as well as Chimp speaks English. Listening to him (grammar, content) was a horrifying experience to any half educated Pole, not to mention academics, Jack. I understand though he grew in stature in recent years, though that was easy given their present "potato" government. But politicians, ugly buildings, and whores all get respectable if they last long enough so why not? Personally I would prefer Bush-Walesa Boulevard though.

SoWa - "Street of Broken Dreams"

Maybe "maybe" is right.

Maybe... polish shipyard worker and union leader Lech Walesa had little or nothing to do with the labor strike that crippled Poland (and the USSR), leading Moscow to crumble, leading more than a dozen nations to freedom and ultimately the Nobel Peace Prize for Lech.

Maybe... maybe's... WRONG.



The first thing the Chavez supporters will say is the City Code which states that a person must be dead at least for 5 years before a street can be renamed. True. But referring to the code has its perils. The code also states that if a street name is historic, or the street itself is historic it can not be re-named. At Ockley Green Middle School Tuesday night they are likely to find out that Interstate Avenue is historic, both as a street and as a name.
It is important to note that the Polish Communities first preference is that the historic name be retained. Interstate Avenue has always been one of Portland's most diverse streets linking a now vanished African American neighborhood to Kenton, Portland's "Cowtown" (the site of Portland's meat packing industry) by way of the Volga-German community near Russell and Interstate, the Polish Community around St. Stanislaus and a Scandinavian neighborhood west of "the Avenue".
Interstate Avenue, named for no one, belongs to everyone. The name Cesar E. Chavez Blvd, named for one hero will belong to one group.

At one point when the shipyard strike ocurred in Poland the guys thought they had a agreement. Unfortunately they were wrong. Also unfortunately they had all gone home. There was a nurse who was still in the shipyard who had the moxie to get on the phone and start calling and telling the wives of these workers to send the men back in. The strike had only begun! If we could find her name she should get the honor.

Otherwise name the street "Tooterville Trolley Trail".


Reagan was not responsible for freeing Eastern Europe from the Russians? Twice the Ruskies were about to invade and Ronaldus Maximus told them to back off.The U.S. suppllied printers which were illegal to own and other help.Look at what happened to the Hungarians and Czechs,MC

'Cuse me Mitch, but the Catholic Church had been waging a battle for years with the Soviets. That alone was a tough nut for the Soviets to crack.

But there are two important issues that get overlooked. An early 1970's report that the Soviets males were dying at a younger age and the impact of the 1970's oil boycott and the higher prices of oil. That price kept the Soviet Union together longer than anyone cares to admit thanks to the income they received from the oil exports. But then there's our old boy Nixon whose moritorium on off shore drilling help set up the U.S. for just such a problem. And his wage and price controls didn't help either.

The Soviet Union had been coming apart for years. We, that is our all knowing politicians, just propped it up. Let's not give that bunch more credit than they deserve by suggesting that it took Ronald to bring them down.


One defining characteristic of the early Soviet rule was a propensity to name places after political leaders, mountains, cities, villages, rivers, and yes streets, nothing was outside their reach. The practice was as widespread as it was widely ridiculed and despised. People generally don't like their places renamed every time somebody gains or loses political power.

Civilized nations of Western Europe had a simple solution - they adopted a general rule never to name public places after living persons. That rule served them very well over centuries although as with everything exceptions were known. Even Catholic church adopted it, as a matter of principle they will never declare a person a saint until long after that person is gone.

Later even Soviets realized the wisdom of that arrangement too and stopped renaming places willy nilly.

It is sad and unfortunate that that the very people who objected most to that Stalinist practice were the first to throw the caution to the wind and started renaming places after living people left and right. Walesa, Reagan, Bushies, etc., examples abound.

This is ill advised IMO.

"People generally don't like their places renamed every time somebody gains or loses political power."

No one likes being used simply for the political benefit of someone else. That's what's going on here. City leaders become the champions of the group pushing for the name change, another interest group, another block of votes. But you people on Interstate Ave, who are you? The whole process tells you, you are nobody, even though you are the ones who bear the brunt of the practicalities of the change, while others bask in PR and gain political clout. You are nobody that is, until you speak up very loudly. Unfortunately you will take abuse for that. It is such a shame that normal, daily, common-sense respect is something we still have to fight for, while politically strategic name changes are promised at the drop of a hat.

Dear BGTI, R.R. sent the CIA to the Vatican shortly after the Pope made his first visit to Poland.CIA director Casey showed the Pope a picture of the Pope in front of the masses.When the Pope asked how the picture was taken he was told,from a satellite in space.He was shocked and that's how the beginning of the collabration of Reagan,Thatcher and the Church began.Source Reader's Digest.Prior to that we were subject to the Dems policy of accomodation with the Russians and told that we had an inordanite fear of Communism by Carter,Mitch

Dear Mitch when I was in Catholic school in the mid fifties we were often asked to donate to help those behind the Iron Curtain sustain their faith. I doubt RR had anything to do with that. During the Hungarian Rervolution of 1956 the Catholic Cardinal who was sought by the Soviets found refuge in the U.S. emabasy where I understand he spent the remainder of his life. I don't think the church cares really one way or another what type of government you have. They care wheather you are an atheist who is trying to stamp out the church.

I'm sure the ghost of Sister Beatrice will haunt me tonight for my spelling whether wrong.


What!Please explain what your talking about.Sure RR had nothing to do to do with with what you did in the 50's.Were talking about the 90's,Mitch.

Excuse me I meant 80's,MC

Mitch the Soviets had been under a good deal of external pressure for a number of years from a number of different groups.

Nevertheless, suppose that instead of John Paul II sharing his time in office in the 1980s with Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, he had shared it with Jimmy Carter and Neville Chamberlain. Would the Soviet Union have declared defeat and disbanded?

This is good that Mr President sent today his letter to the people. Robert Opala

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