Featured Stories

Stumptown Stumper

by: Courtesy of the city of Portland archives, Dr. J.C. Hawthorne was the inspiration for Southeast Hawthorne Street’s current name. His Oregon Hospital for the Insane was the inspiration for its previous one.

Every Friday in Stumptown Stumper, the Portland Tribune offers a trivia question and answer to help you boost your Rose City IQ.

Q: What Portland street originally was named Asylum Avenue?

A: Long before Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard was known for its brewpub theaters, laid-back brunch spots and bohemian culture, it was home to quite a different subculture: the Oregon Hospital for the Insane.

According to noted Portland historian Eugene E. Snyder's 1979 book, 'Portland Names and Neighborhoods: Their Historic Origins,' Asylum Avenue got its name in 1862 when Dr. J.C. Hawthorne built the hospital at nearby Southeast 10th Avenue and Salmon Street- today the site of a number of industrial businesses.

He wrote: 'An 1866 map shows a large tract, from 9th to 12th and from Taylor to Madison, labeled 'Lunatic Asylum Grounds.' In honor of that institution, 'U Street' (its original designation) was changed to 'Asylum Avenue,' not, perhaps, the happiest choice for a street name.'

According to a 2003 city planning document that also details the history of Hawthorne Boulevard, J.C. Hawthorne had come to Portland just four years earlier to care for the county's indigent patients in this area of East Portland, as it was called.

The landowner, James B. Stephens, was so impressed with Hawthorne's vision and eager to see this part of town grow that he donated seven acres of property to the hospital.

Hawthorne and another doctor, A.M. Loryea, ran the hospital until 1883, when the State Hospital for the Insane opened in Salem, according to Snyder. 'After that,' he wrote, 'the name 'Asylum' became even less suitable, and, in 1888, this street was made a namesake for Dr. Hawthorne.'

Next week's Stumper: What legendary Portland tattoo artist, now deceased, did tattoos of famous outlaws?

Have a Stumper? Send it to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..