Poor Grammar among cement works 90 years ago

Street name type
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On one of my morning walks with Barley, I noticed a problem. The street names in the curbs on the corner of NE 23rd Ave and Emerson St didn’t all match. Three of the 4 corners list the named street as Surman St instead of Emerson. Was it a typo? Or was the street name changed from Surman during some brief period of anti-anglo sentiment? My final guess is that the concrete worker simply mis-heard the original street name Emerson as Surman and didn’t realize his mistake until the last corner. Either that, or someone else pointed it out. I’m sure the dope-slap was in use at the time (roughly 1911) and the person responsible got three of them.

Or more. One block up on the NE 23rd and Sumner St., another typo appeared. Someone had misspelled the street name as Somner on just this block. Oh, and the street was just East 23rd at the time of pouring.

One thing is clear from all this. Well, actually there are at least two of three things that are clear:

  1. Living in an old neighborhood is awesome
  2. whoever paved on NE 23rd nearly 90 years ago probably ended up in a different line of work
  3. I’m a total nerd

5 thoughts on “Poor Grammar among cement works 90 years ago”

  1. You could check the original plat of the subdivision to see if the street name has changed. They’re on line at the office of the Multnomah County Surveyor, Robert Hovden.

    Some past names of streets are frozen in the concrete. One example is near Washington Park, where Marconi and Wright Avenues memorialize the discoverer of radio and the brothers who made history at Kitty Hawk. But the concrete curb on Wright Avenue used to (and if it hasn’t been made wheelchair-friendly, it still does) say that it borders Edison Avenue. I don’t know why the street name was changed, unless the Wright Brothers had such acclaim with their airplane to push Mr. Edison’s 1000+ inventions out of the Portland mind.

  2. What is now Portland used to be a number of cities. Portland was the older parts of NW and SW. East Portland was inner SE and NE. ALbina was the area from the Colesium north along Williams and Mississippi. also include St. Johns and Sellwood.

    All the cities merged around 1900. At that time

    1) A number of street names were changed.
    2) The present rational numbering system was implimented. Before we had a numbering system like San Francisco where street numbers started with the street.

    Older sidewalks on the East side still are marked with the old East Portland numbering system, hence East 23th St. etc.

    Look at older homes in inner SE/NE and you’ll see numbers that don’t match the present system. There are a couple on the South side of the street on SE Oak between 22 & 24th that are numbered something like 730.

    BTW: those iron rings in the parking are for horses. Please use them appropriately.

  3. There is a retired gentleman in my neighborhood (Sullivan’s Gulch) who has been studying the sidewalk markings (mostly the paving companies names) for the last couple years. I can’t find the article about him, but I believe he has observed dozen’s of different companies who poured concrete in just my little neighborhood.

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