Slabtown Fun Fact #27: Where is Fordham Heights?

Drawing of Fordham Heights. Text "Is situated at the head of Lovejoy and Northrup streets. We have a few very choice building sites in this addition from $2500 to $3500 per lot, including all improvements."

fordham_heightsAnswer: “Fordham Heights is situated at the head of Lovejoy and Northrup streets”

Having successfully reintegrated the name “Nob Hill” into the urban fabric in the 1970s, a decade ago Mike Ryerson recruited his friends to bring the “Slabtown” name back to the working-class section of NW 23rd.

Resurrecting historic place names takes time and sometimes becomes confusing. For example, the “Alphabet District” is larger than the Alphabet National Register Historic District, but despite the subtle difference, they suffice as wayfinding devices. Perhaps historic place names only matter when word-searching text from the distant past to delve into the community’s neighborhood history.

But the heritage of a place can be rooted in disused names. The old names convey and embody heritage, but if they have fallen out of use they can lack a tangible connection. Historic names are like dates—often tedious and requiring rote memorization. Once we lose the oral use of a place name it can be lost to collective memory. With the advent of the car it seems to me that many mini-neighborhoods have morphed into larger tracts of land/geography and melded into one larger place name.

We at Slabtown Tours work with the Dan Volkmer Team, Northwest Children’s Theater, and the Northwest Neighborhood Cultural Center to produce an annual home tour on Father’s Day. The tour runs from 11am to 4pm on Sunday, June 19, 2016.

The theme of this year’s event is The Fifth Annual Walking Tour: Historic Homes of Old Nob Hill. The homes are clustered near the top of Lovejoy. (The all-volunteer team was not comfortable with any of the titles I had brainstormed, either because of a double-entendre or because the names had fallen out of use. The struggle to “brand” an event was exacerbated by a desire to retain historic integrity yet define a sense of place that the visitor could identify. Since no one recalls Fordham Heights or Goldsmith Hill those were unusable.)

Here are some forgotten Northwest Portland place names:
Atkinson’s Addition: Upshur, between 25th & 26th.

Blythswood: On Thurman & Aspen, the northwest part of Willamette Heights.

Fordham Heights: The south side of Cornell, northwest of the top of Marshall.

Goldsmith Hill: The top of Lovejoy, Marshall, and Northrup Streets

Murhard Tract: North side Thurman, west side 21st.

Nob Hill Terrace: Top of Lovejoy.

Wilson’s Addition: North side of Thurman at 23rd.

Whitechapel District: 14 blocks, bounded by SW Pine, Second, NW Flanders and Fourth