After an extensive community engagement process that generated more than 1,100 ideas, Mayor Vinis revealed the final names for three new Downtown Riverfront streets:
- Annie Mims Lane
- Nak-nak Avenue
- Wiley Griffon Way
“The creativity of our community really came through with all of the name suggestions,” said Mayor Vinis. “It has also been an opportunity to learn more about our own history as a city and highlight stories we may not often hear. I’m excited that we are at this point and look forward to walking down these streets to the river soon!”
About the street names
- Annie Mims and her husband were the first African American family to own a home in Eugene at a time when African Americans were excluded from living in the city limits and redlining was rampant. The Mims’ opened their home and guest house to African American laborers, performers, athletes, students, and others in need of a place to stay when hotels and businesses refused service to African American people prior to public accommodation laws.
- Nak-nak (pronounced knawk-knawk) is the indigenous Kalapuya word for “duck.” Indigenous Kalapuya occupied much of our area until the 1830s, when many died of infectious diseases brought to the area by white explorers and traders. In 1855 the Kalapuya Treaty was signed handing over much of the Willamette Valley to the United States. At the time of the treaty, it’s estimated that only 400 Kalapuya remained.
- Wiley Griffon was among Eugene’s earliest documented African American residents. He drove Eugene’s first horse drawn streetcar system and later worked as a janitor at the University of Oregon. He remarkably owned a home near the Riverfront at what is presently E. 4th and Mill during a time when African American people were excluded by law from living not only in the city limits, but in the state of Oregon.
See Engage Eugene to learn about the street naming process.
Thank you to all of the community members who participated in this process to name our new streets!