Where We Live: Couch Street in Northwest Portland

Street named after John H. Couch, a major figure in Portland's history

Many people mispronounce Portland's Couch Street, which was named after John H. Couch. (KOIN)
Many people mispronounce Portland's Couch Street, which was named after John H. Couch. (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Have you ever corrected someone who mispronounced Couch Street?

Well, you’re not alone. And the reason the street’s pronunciation tends to trip people up is an interesting part of where we live.

“I pronounce it ‘kooch’ but a lot of people pronounce it ‘couch’,” Rich Smith, who works on Couch Street, told KOIN 6 News.

The well-known street has nothing to do with furniture. It was named after John H. Couch, a major figure in Portland’s history.

Captain Couch sailed to Oregon and eventually served as treasurer for the state's provisional government. (KOIN)
Captain Couch sailed to Oregon and eventually served as treasurer for the state’s provisional government. (KOIN)

Couch was a ship’s captain and pioneer from Massachusetts. He sailed to Oregon and eventually served as treasurer for the state’s provisional government in the mid-1800s.

He made a land claim and lived in what’s now Northwest Portland’s Alphabet District.

Couch originally planted the neighborhood’s lettered street names, which were later renamed with the same alphabetic ordering.

Captain Couch’s legacy includes the park within his original land claim. But despite his contribution to the city, people still get his name wrong on a regular basis.

“If you’re asking for a mailing address, you always say ‘I live on Couch Street’ so they know how to spell it,” Portland resident Nick Anderson said.

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