Hawthorne Boulevard was named after Dr. J.C. Hawthorne, the cofounder of Oregon's first mental hospital. Originally named "U" Street, the road was renamed Asylum Avenue in 1862. In 1883 the Oregon State Hospital moved to its present location in Salem. The street was renamed Hawthorne Avenue in honor of Dr. Hawthorne. The change from the "distasteful" name was at the behest of the local residents by City Ordinance in April 1888. It was further renamed Hawthorne Boulevard in March 1933.
Neighbors organized and prevented a McDonald's restaurant from being built at the site of an abandoned fast food building. The abandoned building was replaced with condominiums and retail shops on the first floor.