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The names, they are a-changin'

Sunday, March 05, 2006
One thing (of, I assure you, many) that has consistently annoyed me in the past in the habit legislators have of renaming things, or allowing things to be renamed. By "things", I mean streets, highways, parks, city buildings, stadiums, etc. This is generally a politically popular things to do, as I understand it, but it irritates me. Why change it?

I ran across this article while perusing fark.com which talks about the pros and cons of renaming the aforementioned places. Normally I don't link to articles I read which were linked to from someplace else, but this one was relevant to me. You see, here in my fair city, politicians are talking about renaming Portland Boulevard after Rosa Parks. Interestingly, I used to live near where Portland Boulevard intersected with Union Avenue - which was renamed in the 80s to "Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard".

I'm all for commemorating important people with statues in parks and stuff like that. But where does it stop? Portland renamed "Front Street" (everyone knows where THAT is) to "Naito Parkway" after its rich citizens a couple years ago, and I'm still upset about that. We renamed the Civic Auditorium to the "Keller Auditorium" in the last decade, too. Who the hell Ira Keller was I'll never know, but according to this website the fountain across the street is named after him, too. PGE Park used to have the nice, normal name of "Civic Stadium", but now it's named after Enron's puppet.

Do you see where I'm leading? I don't want Portland to become a city that changes its maps for political gain or profit. Commemorating Rosa Parks is important, for she played a huge role in the American Civil Rights Movement. However, with the huge amount of new constructions and just-add-water neigborhoods popping up in the suburbs, perhaps naming a NEW street after her would be just as meaningful and far less of a headache. Perhaps renaming landmarks in the city after people (many of whom, like Ira C. Keller, aren't known to most people) or corporations just isn't the answer we're looking for.

Me? I love a beautiful or descriptive name. I like our city arena, the "Rose Garden Arena". I approve of Pioneer Courthouse Square, which is conveniently located next to the Pioneer Courthouse. I liked Waterfront Park (guess where that was.) At least they kept the descriptive part of the name when it became the Tom McCall Waterfront Park.

If I were able to vote on renaming Portland Boulevard, I'd vote against it. Not for any other reason there are more appropriate (and certainly convenient) ways of honor an important historical figure. And that's all I have to say.


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