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The City of Portland, Oregon

Portland Bureau of Transportation

Phone: 503-823-5185

Fax: 503-823-7576

1120 SW Fifth Ave, Suite 1331, Portland, OR 97204

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Donation Claims

One important influence on Portland's transportation system was the Donation Land Claim law which allowed people to claim property, up to 320 acres if they were married, by building a house on it and living on it for 5 years. You can see that the early claims - downtown Portland and St. Johns - were laid out before the government surveyors had come through and laid out the north-south grid. Those early claims are oriented to the river. After that the surveyors came through and laid out the grid and most of the rest of the donation land claims followed it. A lot of our street patterns are based on this. The continuous mile lines became our collector system - NE Broadway, SE Stark, Division and Holgate. On Division there's a jog in property lines due to a surveying error. The little jog at 41st & Division was inherited with the donation land claim period.