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May 8th, 2013 MARTY SMITH | Dr. Know
 

Dr. Know: A Surprising Lack of Herbert

Why is nothing in Oregon named after President Herbert Hoover?

drknowILLUSTRATION: Hawk Krall

U.S. President Herbert Hoover was from Oregon. How come nothing here is named after him?

—Tequila Wilhelmina

I admire your penchant for brevity, Willi. You should be on Twitter—and while you’re there, why not follow me, @martysmithpdx? (How shameless was that? Pardon me while I go autoclave my tongue.)

Anyway, it’s a legitimate question: If L.P.W. Quimby—a hotel manager whose main claim to fame was that he once gave some 19th-century dudes a lift to Salem—can get a street in Northwest Portland named after him, where’s Hoover’s swag?

Born in Iowa in 1874, Hoover moved to Newberg at 10 and stuck around long enough to do his first two years of college there. Given our lax local standards—half the Oregonians you know are from elsewhere—that’s good enough that we can claim him if we want.

That’s a big “if,” though. I don’t know how much attention you were paying in 20th-century American history, but Hoover is the guy who tends to absorb a lot of the blame for the Great Depression.

That may not be entirely fair, but given that the shantytowns of homeless starvelings that sprang up during this period were called “Hoovervilles,” our forefathers can be forgiven for finding the prospect of “Herbert C. Hoover Memorial Bridge” about as appealing as, say, “Adolf Hitler Expressway” or “Jeffrey Dahmer City Park.”

It’s kind of too bad, because until he had the bad luck to become president, Hoover was known as a humanitarian genius whose efforts as head of the U.S. food relief program saved millions from starvation during WWI.

Even so, there is the Hoover Dam, which does to the Colorado River what its namesake couldn’t do to the Depression. But speculation that the famous vacuum cleaner took the name Hoover because “it also sucks” is just mean.


UPDATE May 14, 2003! Dr. Know Out-Knowed! 

Alert, lovely (we're sure) and knowledgeable readers have taken care to point out that Herbert Hoover does not go entirely unhonored in this state. A sign on the eastern edge of Newberg, Ore., Hoover's teen- and tweenhood home, designates a nebulous section of highway 99W in his name. Newberg's Herbert Hoover Park (114 S. River St.) is also, apparently, a fair-to-middling place to play disc golf. While we're at it: Newberg's George Fox has also laid claim, housing within its Hoover Academic Building a "900-square-foot art gallery, two nursing labs, an observation room, a computer lab, and the largest lecture hall on campus." 


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