The Forgotten Portland

How East Portland Was Born... and Ignored


When my grandmother first arrived in Portland, it never rained. Back then, Foster was a two lane dirt road through a fir forest, and there was only a fine mist nine months out of the year. It wasn't until the trees were clear cut that Portland got heavy rain drops.
Anyone ever notice the way public transit only runs East and West in East Portland? Why? If you live off of Halsey and are lucky enough to have a job parellel to Powell you've got a five mile hike. Get some busses running North and South. Where's the love Trimet? Obviously someone is ok with hiring low wage workers to come into the city and work and leave at the end of the work day but folks can't work in their own community without a car.
Dread Uptown: your grandmother lied to you.
lesse, east portland. cheap real estate, served by bus and rail transit?? 10 years from now this article will read "east portland gentrification out of control".
Let's bulldoze Lents, plant some trees, and see if Dread is right or not.
Glad to see the Mercury found 82nd Avenue.

Portland has rested on its laurels as a well-planned city for 30 years, laurels it deserves. But if it wants to be regarded as a great city for the next 30 years, it's got to figure out what to do with those midcentury subdivisions and strip malls out in the "urban donut." Bike lanes are great, but without jobs to bike to, nobody's going to ride in them.

We've got sub-standard housing stock out here, landlords disinclined to make improvements to their properties, and a lack of businesses for people to shop or work at. We've got a ton of vacant property in the form of parking lots along 122nd, but little investment happening. When will the city show off 122nd Avenue as a potential hub for a burgeoning new business, instead of the Pearl or the Central Eastside?

Will Portland stand up to its challenge, to ensure the entire city is as great as its core? Or now that Portland has shoved its problems out of sight, will it keep them out of mind?
i dunno, id probably go a bit further and call this article a bit alarmist. its not that it east portland has been forgotten, its was just developed at a different time then the other inner neighborhoods, at the height of auto-centric 1950's and 60's development. So really, it functions more like an outlying suburb then a dense and walkable inner ring neighborhood. its not either of those. it is served by transit and its not a food desert, its just an outer ring working class part of town. its still gridded and doesn't take long to get into the central neighborhoods. sure there are some gravel back roads but who cares. enjoy its diversity and relatively cheap housing costs while it lasts. its ok if some part of portland remains a little honky tonk too.
I like how this article is apparently freaked out about both cheap housing and about gentrification...
I must agree with Tom Mcroy. Portland isn't Portland without the gravel roads and honky tonks.... honky tonkers? Whatever. I only claim 31 years here... I have stories from my grandma too... mostly about racial divide in Portland between 1930 and 1960.... but my own story is that Portland has always been a broke ass town, and that is what has made it so great. Desperation breeds inspiration. It also breeds mental illness, drug abuse, and petty crime. The number one complaint I hear from recent transplants is that there are too many "crazy" or "homeless" people here. Yeah, that's a natural part of a city that is overwhelmed with poverty. But everything you saw on Portlandia that inspired you to move here, everything you read about in the New York Times.... that is all a part of it too. So take responsibility for your decision to be here. Or, you know.... find somewhere else to be.

Nice article on the east side, but you go to far in saying that Randy Leonard is the only east-sider elected to the City Council since 1913. I can think of Earl Blumenauer and Fred Peterson right off the top of my head. With a little research I bet there are many more.
Hi JD,

East side, yes, there have been plenty. East of 82nd, though, is a different matter. I'll also be a total pedant here and point out that both Peterson and Blumenauer were elected to the city council prior to the incorporation of what is now called East Portland.
What you are all thinking but nobody is saying:

if there was any reason to go there i might care about this article about a part of portland that simply exists because every city must have a sewer.
Hey I'mrightyourwrong ... The fact that 40% of the children of this city live in east Portland might not be a reason to go there, but it certainly is a reason to care.
my theory has always been that the quality of the houses on the deep east side is the problem. I think because it was all farm land when people were building really beautiful houses in Portland. When the '70s came along, the quality and tastes went way down so now you have this whole area with horriblè generic apartment buildings and plaster board ranchos. The people that are responsible for gentrification, the artists, the students, hîppies, weirdos, etc etc. would never choose to live in a 40 unit apartment building with no soul. What the east side could really use is a gang of far out archetects to level and rebuild some of the areas.
Bring back Tom Mcall he'll know what to do,or not do !
Perhaps the term "gentrification" is a misnomer. Califorinication is more like it. Cheap, particle board shanties are just one little baby step ahead of tents under a bridge.
I live in Montavilla close to 82nd. It would be nice to see the area improve a little more along Glisan but not so much that it raises rental rates terribly high. Just high enough that it forces out the worst of the vermin & scum would be adequate. Jus sayin'. Tired of being woken up at 3am by meth heads screaming outside. Hopefully the police would be quicker to calls once the property taxes people pay demands better service from them.

I actually rent out of a building that the owner may sell, and it would likely be fully demolished.
The problem is not with Californians, per se, but with the style of cheap crowded housing developments being shoddily, constructed. Although, Californians are used to that sort of thing.
I like the illustration
Thanks for the article on my neighborhood, thin as it was. Sorry I can't read the comments section-- there will inevitably be some anonymous fucktard spouting some ugliness-- so maybe somebody has already pointed this out... The article quotes Goodling as saying that "housing prices, property values, and property taxes have risen considerably in Portland since the urban core has been revived..." HOWEVER this is seriously INCORRECT, and the reason we East Portlanders are pissed off about the lack of sidewalks (among other signs of neglect). The fact is, property taxes in East Portland are artificially HIGH and property taxes in inner Portland are artificially LOW. Here is why: Measures 5 and 50. To summarize, property tax is based on the assessed value of a home, as opposed to the market value. The assessed value is limited to a maximum 3% increase per year. Therefore, as home values in inner Portland have skyrocketed, homeowners still pay tax on the much lower assessed value. Whereas home values in East Portland climb much more slowly, so the assessed value and market value are almost the same. Feel me? I pay the same taxes on my $140,000 market value home as Joe Blow on SE Lincoln Street pays on his $375,000 market value home. No shit. Also, I'm watching sidewalks go in on my street in East Portland, and HOORAY they are nice, and I no longer have to push a stroller in a mud pit along my busy street. But I'm also watching new sidewalks go in on SE Division Street, and WOW are they NICER! Prettier signage, nicer plants. WHY IS THAT?
HeroPea - you are absolutely correct about Division (I live in Parkrose and pay $3000 in property taxes btw). There are major roads in East Portland with no safe places to walk yet Division gets fancy sidewalks and bioswales. Then again, Division has turned into micro-condo nightmare with major traffic problems and no affordable housing, which makes me pretty happy to be where I'm at.
To George Jackson : re: housing styles in east Portland. A large swath of east Portland was built in the 1950's now commonly referred to as Mid Century. There are a number of homes that are very well constructed and have that Mid Century style. I live in a wonderful Cape Cod style house built in 1954 that sits on a 10,000 square foot lot where I have grown a great garden with large trees, perennials and vegetables in the summer. There are beautiful brick ranch style homes and even a few post and beam style modern homes that are sought out in other neighborhoods. There certainly are a fair amount of crap houses and far too many cheap apartment buildings out here where I live but there are a lot of wonderfully built homes that, if there was less prejudice about the area, are great values. My home has hardwood floors, fireplace, full basement, 10,000 square foot lot, cedar siding. If my home were in a close-in neighborhood it would be valued at around $400,000. In my neighborhood it's valued around $180,000. Besides the property tax inequity that HeroPea states, there are some great homes and great values in east county that the mortgage could be less than a small apartment in the Pearl. I'd like an influx of younger people in my neighborhood and maybe we'll get a Trader Joe's or a New Seasons too.
I think you mean I-205 instead of 82nd. Because there is a swath of houses between 82nd and 94th (I-205) near Mt Tabor which are exactly like those between 72nd and 82nd. Same period Craftsmans.

So, basically, move your Eastside example to beyond the 82nd mentality and to I-205 cutoff as an example.
Interesting. This article describes an "old school mentality"

Look at this other article, more updated!

“Eighty-second is the stepchild that everyone likes to spank and take pokes at,” Hirsch says, but it’s becoming a “foodie mecca” as the Jade District grows.

82nd Avenue revival

Fritz Hirsch, chairman of the Montavilla Neighborhood Association, sees warning signs in his part of town.

“If gentrification means higher-income folks moving in and pushing up prices of real estate, and lower-income folks moving out, yeah, that’s happening,” Hirsch says.

It’s especially strong east of Mount Tabor Park, he says, and close to the Stark Street commercial strip west of 82nd Avenue. A number of restaurants and bars have joined longer-standing attractions such as the Academy Theater, Bipartisan Cafe and Flying Pie Pizzeria.

For a long time in Portland, 82nd Avenue was a barrier that many middle-income homebuyers wouldn’t cross. That’s changing as newcomers arrive, people get priced out of neighborhoods to the west, and 82nd Avenue’s image as used-car row fades.