It's the Editor's turn to discuss issues and, in this case, to explain things about Inner Southeast

COURTESY OF GOOGLE MAPS - This screenshot suggests even Google is struggling with figuring out Sellwood-Moreland; neither Sellwood nor Westmoreland can be happy with this solution!Several months ago we attempted here to respond to persistent questions about "Moreland". As in "Sellwood-Moreland". There isn't actually a "Moreland", you see.

That explanation doesn't seem to have cleared things up, so here goes another try – inspired by the discovery that no less an authority than "Google Maps" seems to be quite confused about it too, as you'll see in the above screenshot from a local nonprofit website.

To start with, Sellwood was briefly a city in the later 1800's, after which it was absorbed into the City of Portland. The original northern boundary of the City of Sellwood was Nehalem Street, as BEE historian Eileen G. Fitzsimons informed us. If you are south of the middle of S.E. Nehalem Street, there is no doubt that you live in Sellwood. Of course, now that Sellwood is just a neighborhood, there is no specific and official northern boundary for it.

However, Sellwood definitely ends a bit south of Bybee Boulevard. In the second decade of the Twentieth Century, what is today Westmoreland was carved from the Ladd Estate, was platted, and opened for development.

But at that time there were four "Morelands" created from that estate: Southmoreland, which extended a ways south of Bybee Boulevard; Westmoreland, which was marked near Bybee with a formal street arch with that name on it (you can see the photo of it in the lobby of the Sellwood-Westmoreland Post Office); Northmoreland, which went as far the north as the informally-known as Midway community before there was much between Midway and Sellwood – and Eastmoreland, which is still there, and was the eastern part of the Ladd Estate. Originally, cows grazed on much of it.

The first three are now known simply as Westmoreland, the western twin of Eastmoreland.

There is no firm consensus as to how far north of Nehalem Street that Sellwood extends today, nor how far south of Bybee that Westmoreland extends, because in the eyes of the city the two communities are part of a single neighborhood – "Sellwood-Moreland".

And it is in that name that the mischief resides.

It seems fair to say that if there were no SMILE, there would be no thought of a "Moreland". SMILE, the acronym that stands for "Sellwood Moreland Improvement League", is today a unique neighborhood association. It is the oldest of Portland's 95 neighborhood associations, since it existed under that name before the "neighborhood system" was adopted by Portland – originally, it was a "business booster club". And, the Moreland in the name did not represent any thought that Westmoreland should be called "Moreland" – it was because there were TWO Morelands in the club, since Eastmoreland was a member of this business booster group too. "Moreland" was simply a shorthand way of expressing both Eastmoreland and Westmoreland.

Of course, when the neighborhood system began in Portland, and SMILE became the official nonprofit neighborhood association for Sellwood and Westmoreland – and Eastmoreland went its own way with ENA, its own neighborhood association – SMILE should have renamed itself "Sellwood Westmoreland Improvement League", but that would have made its acronym SWIL, and that found very little favor!

So, SMILE choosing to stick with "Moreland" as a way of retaining its pleasant acronym, has led to much confusion. We have found that some people in Westmoreland think they live in Sellwood. (In fact we have seen merchants as far north as the Brooklyn neighborhood say they are in Sellwood!) And a large number of people mistakenly think that "Moreland" is the correct name for Westmoreland. But, this map from Google takes the confusion a level higher, with entirely different take on the matter – since it shows Sellwood as actually being "Sellwood-Moreland", and Westmoreland being a separate entity just north of both.

What more can we say! There really is no Moreland. But businesses using the name, such as the Moreland Theater, may intend to welcome both Eastmoreland and Westmoreland residents, of course.

If it's west of McLoughlin, it's Westmoreland; and if it's east of the highway it's Eastmoreland.

Does that help…?

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