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Old Forest Grove Street Names


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The citizens of Forest Grove have renamed the city's streets twice in its history: first in 1892, and again in 1949. This is often an issue for residents who are researching the history of their homes, as current street addresses may not match with those in historic records. 

How and why did this renaming happen? Before 1892, many streets in town were named after trees, such as Cedar, Oak, Pine and Spruce. These names were in no particular order on the street grid, so visitors would have to ask directions to find specific addresses. In 1892, the city decided to make the street grid more rational. They renamed most roads that ran North-South to ordinal numbers plus the word "Street," while roads that ran East-West were renamed to ordinal numbers plus the word "Avenue." In addition, they decided to make two counts for the Avenues, so that roads north of Pacific Avenue would be counted upwards from that baseline, e.g. "N. First Ave," "N. Second Ave," etc.; while south of Pacific Ave., they were "S. First Ave.", "S. Second Ave.",  etc. Unfortunately, this created a perplexing situation, as a road like "Second St." was very easily confused with "N. Second Ave." and "S. Second Ave." In trying to simplify directions, the city had made it even harder to locate addresses reliably.

Thus in 1949, the city went through another round of renaming.  The tradition of using tree names was revived and applied to the numbered streets running north-south. This time however, they used the tree names in alphabetical order from west to east. This is why Old Town now has the streets Ash, Birch, Cedar, Douglas (for Douglas Fir), Elm, Filbert and Hawthorne. The two series of numbered Avenues running east-west (N. First Ave, S. First Ave., etc.) were renumbered into just one series. They left room at the southern border of town to add more numbered avenues, but most of the extra numbers have not been needed. This is why today, the numbering begins with 9th Ave. in the Carnation area, and then counts upwards all the way to 30th Ave. north of downtown. 

For links to historic maps of these streets and other resources, see our Help With Research page.

Street Name Chart

Streets running North and South*
 1865-1892  1892-Dec. 1949  Dec. 1949-Present
 Buckeye St.  D St.  D St.
 Fir St.   C St.  C St.
 Mulberry St.  B St.  B St.
 Spruce St.  A St.  A St.
 Pine St.  Main St.  Main St.
 Cross St.  Council St.**  Council St.
 Oak Ave.  College Way**  College Way
 Maple St.  First St.  Ash St.
 Laurel St.  Second St.  Birch St.
 Ash St.***  Third St.  Cedar St.
 Locust St.  Fourth St.  Douglas St.
 Chestnut St.  Fifth St.  Elm St.
 Beech St.  Sixth St.  Filbert St.
 Alder St.  Seventh St.  Hawthorne St.

Streets running East and West*
 1865-1892  1892-Dec. 1949  Dec. 1949-Present
 North Ave.  University Ave.** University Ave. 
 Willow St.  N. Third Ave.  23rd Ave.
 Birch St.  N. Second Ave.  22nd Ave.
 Walnut St.  N. First Ave.  21st Ave.
 Elm Ave.  Pacific Ave.  Pacific Ave.
 Larch St.  S. First Ave.  19th Ave.
 Cypress St.  S. Second Ave.  18th Ave.
 Cedar St.  S. Third Ave.  17th Ave.
   S. Fourth Ave.  16th Ave.
   S. Fifth Ave.  15th Ave.
   S. Sixth Ave.  14th Ave.
   S. Seventh Ave.  13th Ave.
   S. Eighth Ave.  12th Ave.

Notes & Sources

* The charts above were adapted from a typewritten chart by historian Eric Stewart, a copy of which is held in the Pacific University Archives. The Sanborn Maps linked on our Help With Research page provide evidence of the name changes. Additional research is required in order to locate citations for the dates noted in the chart.

** The exact dates of certain street name changes, e.g. Council Street, College Way and University Avenue, have not been definitively established, but they were in place by 1892. 

*** A portion of Ash St. north of Pacific Ave. was known as Ash Avenue.

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