The City Council’s Sustainability & Transportation Committee will hold a public hearing on Wednesday, February 15 at 5:30 PM in Council Chambers on renaming 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.
When the announcement was first made before the committee meeting in January, Councilor Thibodeau, Chair of the Committee, said, “this is a long overdue recognition in Portland and I want to recognize Councilor Duson and the many others who pushed for many years to honor Martin Luther King, Jr in this way. I also 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.”
Councilor Duson added at the time, “I’m excited to see that there is momentum around honoring Martin Luther King, Jr here in Portland in this way. I look forward to discussing it with the public and my fellow committee members.”
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.