Matt Groening: Portland Son Made Good
Long before he was the creator of the longest-running U.S. primetime television series in history, Matt Groening was just another kid in Portland, living over on Evergreen Terrace. He went to Ainsworth Elementary and Lincoln High in SW Portland. His parents were artsy but hard working. He got picked on for being bookish, and got into trouble for drawing in class. Sound familiar?
Groening has never hidden his Portland roots, but he’s never come out and said, “Yes. Springfield is Portland.” And why would he? It’s better if everyone thinks Springfield is their Springfield - whether that Springfield happens to be in Illinois, Missouri, Massachusetts, or Oregon.
But come on – we know the truth. Springfield is Portland. And we have proof. Well, we sort of have proof. Let’s see if we can use our extra-savvy know-how of the Portland area to put a case together.
Portland’s Street Names May Be Familiar to Simpsons Fans
If you’ve ever driven around Portland before, then you may have noticed a strange coincidence. Lovejoy… Flanders… why do so many Portland streets seem to share names with Simpsons characters?
Actually, it’s no coincidence; Matt Groening simply thought it would be funny to name Simpsons characters after his hometown streets.
Bart’s best buddy, Millhouse’s last name is Van Houten. There just happens to be a Van Houten Avenue in North Portland’s University Park Neighborhood.
The Simpson’s devout neighbor Ned Flanders was named for Northeast Flanders Street in Northeast Portland. As it turns out, Portland vandals like The Simpsons, too. They’ve added a “D” to the end of NE on the Flanders street sign on more than one occasion.
Schoolyard bully Kearney Zzyzwicz’s namesake is none other than Northwest Kearney Street. Why didn’t the other bullies get Portland street names? Who knows…
Reverend Lovejoy was named for NW Lovejoy Street, and Sideshow Bob’s last name just happens to be Terwilliger, a Portland street in SW and the namesake of the Terwilliger Curves, one the most dangerous stretches of highway in the state of Oregon. Mayor Quimby was named for a Portland street, as well, an honor he shares with a certain Ramona Quimby, age 8, another famous literary character from the Beverly Cleary novels, set in (where else?) Portland.
Montgomery Burns’ moniker is a cross between two intersecting Portland landmarks: Burnside Street, which divides the northern quadrants of the city from the southern, and Montgomery Park, a former Montgomery Ward headquarters and current office building.
Let Them Have Their Springfields
Matt Groening knows the truth, and so do we. But let’s not rub it in, OK? We already have so many great things here in Portland. Some Springfields out there might really need the Simpsons connection to feel special, like one of the five Springfields in Wisconsin, or the 11 Springfields (for real) in Ohio. Let them have their claim to fame!
Oh, and if you’re looking for a great place on say, NE Flanders or N Van Houten, we’re here to help. Get in touch with Urban Nest today – and thanks for reading!