The City Council’s Sustainability & Transportation Committee will discuss a proposal at its January 17 meeting to rename Franklin Street in honor of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It is proposed that the street would be known as Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard. The meeting will take place at 5:30 PM in Room 209. A public hearing will be held on the matter during the Committee’s February meeting on February 15 at 5:30 PM in Council Chambers.
“This is a long overdue recognition in Portland,” said Councilor Spencer Thibodeau, Chair of the Sustainability & Transportation Committee. “I want to recognize Councilor Duson and the many others who pushed for many years to honor Martin Luther King, Jr in this way, and I want to thank the City Manager and City staff for making this vision a reality. I look forward to reviewing it with the Committee and hearing if the public is supportive.”
“I’m excited to see that there is momentum around honoring Martin Luther King, Jr here in Portland in this way,” said Councilor Jill Duson, who also sits on the Sustainability & Transportation Committee. “I look forward to discussing it with community members at the Portland NAACP’s 36th annual Martin Luther King, Jr. observance on Monday night, and later through the Committee and Council process.”
“The Portland branch of the NAACP has worked for several decades to realize a permanent memorial for Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and we’re thrilled that we are now at a place in which we can honor this great American hero of African-American descent here in Portland,” said State Rep. Rachel Talbot Ross, who also serves as President of the Portland NAACP organization. “Portland will join hundreds of memorials throughout the world that honor Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. This honor not only acknowledges his life, but a legacy of commitment to peace, equality and justice.
As Dr. King once said, "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter," said Mayor Ethan Strimling. "When we find ways to honor Dr. King's legacy, we remind everyone of his message of hope, justice and courage; a message we'd do well to live out each day. I want to thank my colleagues for speaking out and moving this initiative forward."
History of Franklin Street
Franklin Street began in the 18th century as Essex Street. It ran from Back Street (now known as Congress Street to Tyng’s Wharf which was located at Fore Street. By 1823 a new street named Franklin Street, which more or less aligned with Essex Street, extended from Congress Street (formerly Back Street) toward Back Cove to a point where Oxford Street is now located (at this time the Back Cove area had not yet been filled or extended). In the 1850s, Portland Harbor had also been filled and the street was connected to the newly-built Commercial Street and extended out into the harbor on the new Franklin Wharf. The entire street, from Back Cove to the waterfront, was named Franklin Street.