In the late 1960s, crews took down the houses and businesses that lined Franklin Street. About 130 buildings were demolished on Franklin and some of its intersecting streets. The purpose was to give motorists easier access to Portland’s downtown.

Proponents of the scheme believed that it would help the city compete with the suburbs. Critics objected to the destruction of a neighborhood and the displacement of families and businesses.

Although Franklin Arterial moved cars through Portland with fewer slowdowns, the street never satisfied many interested in urban planning and design. The swath of the arterial is a blank in the urban fabric and impedes the movement of pedestrians to and from Munjoy Hill. In the summer of 2015, the Portland City Council approved a plan to redesign the street.

The recent move to rename Franklin Arterial to honor the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. unexpectedly brought to light the pain and sadness that many of those felt who were forced to move from their homes to make way for the new, four-lane street.

Read more:
Hearing on renaming Franklin Street bares old scar, panel seeks to honor MLK another way

Busy Portland thoroughfare may be renamed to honor Martin Luther King Jr.

Portland panel favors renaming Franklin Street after Martin Luther King Jr.