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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Rendering not unto César

Folks who live and work along what used to be 39th Avenue on the east side of Portland are gradually resigning themselves to the fact that their street is now César E. Chávez Boulevard. They're not even going to let you shorten in to Chavez Boulevard -- you have to say the whole thing, and put the little accent marks in there too. I'm surprised they didn't add in the guy's Social Security number.

The new street signs are up, but the change is not going over well with everyone. The folks who live on the northernmost stretch of that street have got to be most displeased. For one thing, their quiet little residential street isn't a boulevard -- not even close. There's not even room for two cars to pass each other.

But hey, we all must suffer some inconvenience in order to honor a great man, I guess.

Funny thing, though -- the bureaucrats down at City Hall don't seem to be into it, either. Check out this document, just posted yesterday, as part of a bid solicitation for garbage pickup:

Here's a drawing sent out on the recent bid solicitation for the cleanout of the pond in Laurelhurst Park. No accent marks here, either:

I'm sure there's more where these came from.

When a street gets renamed, angry neighbors say "I'll never call it that." Eventually, they're forced to. I never would have suspected, however, that city employees would themselves be dragging their feet on this wonderful innovation. Where are our city commissioners, who run these bureaus? Shouldn't they be telling their minions to "Césarize it," immediately?

Comments (17)

#75 is the bus I use occasionally. It runs north and south on 39th Avenue which is 39 blocks east of the Willamette river at Burnside. That's almost half way between the river and 82nd. Neat.

It's actually more than 39 blocks east of the Willamette, thanks to Marguerite Street and the likes, which now have honorary 'place' names now. Like, '35th Place'. Isn't that nice?

Cèsar Chavez now, eh? So, is a pile-up on the 'boulevard' now a 'Cèsar Salad'?

Saw the new signs hanging from the lights at 39th and Woodstock, and was annoyed at how huge they are. Also, they've replaced the signs on Sandy Blvd. that give directions to the Banfield, NE Halsey, and César E. Chavéz blvd.

Just stuff I saw while out and about this weekend.

I always wondered why they call every renamed street "Boulevard?"

In Portland, streets that run N to S are usually called "Avenues"

Maybe Boulevards are more sustainable?

What I found classic what Mayor Adams's response when asked why this was a "boulevard" and not a "street".

"They asked for a boulevard... people will learn."

That's it. I guess if you are the right group and you just push a bit on Mayor Adams, he just caves.

Gosh, would Cesar Chavez Street really been that bad?

How much money will it cost to change the name on all public records and documents?

That's a seriously stupid argument.

Did their two-lane street really qualify as an "avenue"? Did they complain about that? Should sections of a road have different names because they're different widths? Did anyone stop to look at their dictionary or thesaurus?

Maybe you all could selectively rename this stretch of SE 36th Avenue. It's only three blocks long and is more of an alley than an avenue. Or maybe all of the central city avenues -- many of which are kind of narrow for parked cars and two lanes of traffic -- could be renamed to something more appropriate.

There is an actual definition of a "boulevard", and 39th doesn't fit the definition:


I guess we don't count in these parts...

I live within hearing distance of 39th Avenue and there is no Chavez sign at my street's intersection with what is clearly still just 39th Avenue.

I was wondering when they were going to plant the trees down the center...isn't that what makes it a boulevard?

And...Sam Adams is an idiot. Nobody should ask him anything. Ever.

Sam and the rest of the council are the worst group of pandering politicians I've ever seen. If you're not a gay-hispanic bike rider in this city you don't count! When they change their maps, etc. I'll change my address...until then it's good ole 39th.Street

Can anyone explain the historic connection between Chávez and Portland ?

(crickets chirping)

I live on Portland Boulevard...now Rosa Parks Way...and I can halfway understand that, since many African Americans lived in the area from the late 1940s-early 2000s.

But 39th Avenue ? Why not Burnside out through Rockwood and Gresham ? Could it be that the Latinos out there couldn't care less ?

Ah Hell, I'm out of this rotting Communist cesspool in a month, to a city where César E. Chávez runs through a neighborhood built from the ground up and inhabited mainly by Latinos.

That's the thing about Portland...most of the residents have this overwhelming guilt about living in one of the Whitest cities outside of Eastern Europe, so they stutter words like "diversity" all day every day, and re-name streets for their darker-hued heroes.

People who actually live in truly multi-cultural and diverse places never talk about it, for it surrounds you.

I will miss this place as a rich source of humor, I'll say that much. Endless comic potential, from the child-molesting drunk driving Mayor down to the tens of thousands of able-bodied bums laying around in the streets, with no opportunities for employment even if they wanted it.

There's a definition of "avenue" too, but the section of 39th Jack wrote about and the section of 36th I posted a link to don't match that, either. There are a lot of non-conforming boulevards. Sandy Boulevard isn't exactly tree-lined.

Don't forget to take a trip down beautiful Holgate Blvd.!

There are adaptations of a boulevard, but Sandy Boulevard is a major arterial.

Chavez/39th is also a major arterial, at least enough of one to have entrances and exits onto an interstate freeway. It's certainly on a par with Holgate or, say, Willamette Blvd. You really think Willamette Blvd. is a "major arterial"?

Seriously, this is starting to sound like one of those discussions about what constitutes a "birth certificate".

If we can have MLK Boulevard, why not CC Boulevard?

Hey, it could be worse. That idiotic fanboy initiative to rename E. 42nd after Douglas Adams could have gone through, and then you'd have two streets with names unwanted by the residents.

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