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Volume 15, Issue 10
October 2017


ZIP map
Cedar Mill is the pink portion of the 97229 area

The story of 97229
by Virginia Bruce

Most of us live in unincorporated Washington County, not in any city, and yet our street address is Portland. How did that happen?

It causes a lot of confusion. People who come from other places expect urban areas to be cities. Many don’t realize that our only local government is Washington County, and the five-member Board of Commissioners are our nearest elected lawmakers.

Back in 1963, The Post Office (now the US Postal Service) decided that the old zones that were used to help direct mail weren’t efficient enough. The Zone Improvement Plan introduced the basic five-digit format in 1963.

All of Cedar Mill and Bethany and parts of Rock Creek were included in the 97229 designation. West Haven and Cedar Hills got the Portland ZIP Code of 97225, while Oak Hills joined Beaverton as 97006.

BVT cartoon
This cartoon from a May 1963 Valley Times article depicts how Beaverton felt about the Post Office decisions!

Controversy arose around the designation for the Science Park area. The regional post office authority in Seattle had ruled that the area would be “Portland 97229.” The Beaverton Chamber of Commerce objected. The Post Office sent a letter to residents of the area asking them to choose between Beaverton and Portland, and the majority chose Portland. Fred Wolfer, then Chamber Manager, believed that the letter misled residents into thinking they might have to pay for service from Beaverton.

The confusion didn’t begin there, however. Homes in our area had Portland addresses from the early days. The Cedar Mill Post Office was established in 1874 when John Quincy Adams Young was appointed as postmaster. The location, originally in Young’s general store in the Cornell Road house, changed three times, but was always in a general store. The final location, in the Reeves general store further west on Cornell, closed in 1904. A few months later, rural free delivery was initiated, with mail generally delivered by horse and wagon from the central Portland post office. From that time on, our street addresses were listed as Portland.

The Wikipedia article on ZIP Codes says, “A ZIP Code's address and the city name written on the same line do not necessarily mean that address is within the boundaries of that city. The Postal Service designates one preferred place name for each ZIP Code. This may be an incorporated town or city, a subentity of a large city, or an unincorporated census-designated place, or a small unincorporated community. Additional place names may be recognized as acceptable for a certain ZIP Code. Still others are deemed not acceptable, and if used may result in a delay in mail delivery.”

The ZIP Code directory states: Primary city: Portland, OR; Unacceptable: Cedar Mill, Forest Heights, Rock Creek. There is apparently some process for altering that, but it’s unclear what kind of effort it would take to change it, and the costs associated with those changes would likely be prohibitive.

So we continue with our “clouded identity.” Even though Beaverton annexed a few areas of Cedar Mill over the last 20 years, they still have Portland addresses!


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Published monthly by Pioneer Marketing & Design
Publisher/Editor:Virginia Bruce
PO Box 91061
Portland, Oregon 97291
© 2017