The main post office has been a part of my life since 2006, when I started working at The Emerson School. It takes up a huge swath of land at the northern edge of the Park Blocks, and it sprawls with an assured sense that the postal mail will always be an important part of daily life.
Alas, this is not the case. The mail processing facility has moved out to the airport for better access to the planes and shipping channels. (Though worse access for most employees, probably). And now this entire segment will be redeveloped into some magical bit of mixed-use Portland.
Here’s the view from Northwest Johnson street, where you can see the train station popping up over the mid-century design.
Later, there will be more photos of the front, but you can see where the mail trucks use to pull out for places near and far.
This building sits at the corner of NW 23rd and West Burnside. It used to be the offices of Barbara Sue Seal Properties. I have memories of it from an early age, when we used to come to the Alphabet District when vising at Spring Break/Christmas/Summer
This article says that Barbara Sue Seal started this business in 1983 and was immediately successful. She sold her business in 1997, but still loves doing deals.
The window outside the kitchen area at my work is the one that goes to the fire escape. This is the same fire escape that the robbers came in through to steal three computers, a projector and a throw rug to carry them all out with. But they’ve put a better lock on it since then.
They are removing this fire escape as part of the building remodel. I’ve never sat on it, myself, but a coworker did on a regular basis.
Still, I’ve enjoyed having it and will miss it when it is gone.
Update from the future. For reasons unknown, they did not remove the fire escape!
The Alder Street Food Cart Pod is famous! It takes up an entire city block. Yes! People can walk the perimeter and find a large variety of choices for their meals.
It’s also going away at the end of the month. A luxury hotel and condominium will be built on the block instead.
These pictures were taken from the streetcar, hence the blurry glare.
There has been talk of relocating some of the food carts to a different area of town, maybe the North Park Blocks, or the underused park on Ankeny and Burnside. But nothing has been firmed up. So in a few days, these carts will be gone.
I killed time between the defense and the big party by talking one of the walks in my walking tours book. This was of the Phillips Neighborhood.
I was staying in Ventura Village, but that’s the next neighborhood over. On my walk to the start of the walk, I snapped a picture of this church, where you can attend services in Norwegian!
When you have too much car for your garage…
Basically, Minneapolis is chock full of houses that leave me weak in the knees. Here is one.
All you need to know about Phillips.
Along with a close-up of the neighborhood boundaries.
Most of the walk was on Park Avenue, which has been redeveloped many times over the years. Thus, it was not unusual to see this lineup:
A grand building of apartment homes, built when that was a thing rich people lived in.
Right next to that, a 60s or 70s development.
And right next to that, a small office building.
Here were also huge mansions, like this one, which is now the American Swedish Institute, which I visited in 2015.
And this one:
And this one, which has moved on to a new life as a mosque. I did like that about Minneapolis. A lot of the grand houses have been converted to office space.
Very fancy looking office space, like this one, which houses the American Indian Services.
I liked the look of this stucco, and couldn’t decide if it was the pattern, or stucco suffering from neglect.
Look at this great church!
And these beautiful houses!
It wasn’t unusual to come across these views of fin de siecle houses with downtown towers looming in the background.
Look at the turret on this house!
It seems that bicycle theft is a problem here too.
Here’s an interesting corner. An older apartment building:
And across the street an apartment tower with its first four stories attempting to blend. This works for me.
And then this other corner with some new contstruction totally blending with a new tower looming in the background.
This is a pretty red house with a widow’s walk.
This might be my favorite picture from this walk. A nondescript low brick building next to a beautiful stone house, with a colorful Hannapin Healthcare buiding nearby and the prow of the football stadium poking up in the back.
I could have spent a solid week wandering through Minneapolis and St. Paul neighborhoods.
The main post office, located next to the train station, is in the process of transformation. The mail sorting operations have moved out by the airport. Eventually the entire building will close and the very large piece of property that caps off the North Park Blocks will be redeveloped into…something.
Right now the retail postal operation is still open, but I figured I’d better grab some pictures while I could.
The business mailing operations have headed out to the new facility so this part of the building is not in use right now.
The building itself is nothing memorable from the outside. It’s a basic, no-frills mid-century that few people will probably miss when it falls to the wrecking ball. But I do love the interior. The long corridor of PO boxes on one side, and the windows that let in the light year round is always a calming experience.
There are many bays of PO boxes. I’d be interested to know how many are currently rented.
These new compartments are for PO box customers with packages. I think they used to hold stuff behind the counter and these are the new system. People who get packages will find the key in their PO box and they use it to access the proper locker.
That closed window to the left of the clock used to be a small business selling snack food items and other sundries. It was run by a blind person for many years.
A blurry picture of the elevator to other parts of the building including a cafe. I assume the cafe is now closed and I’m sorry I didn’t ever visit. I’ve long toyed with a regular feature on cafes hidden in large buildings.
The nice looking letter drop area.
Supposedly, a new post office retail location will open in the vicinity when the main building is closed for redevelopment. I’m sure it will be fine, but I will miss this location, which has served me well for more than ten years.
At the corner of North Denver Avenue and North Lombard street in Portland Oregon, there’s a run-down building which until recently housed The Barn, a local bar.
On the sign with the full name of the bar (The Farmer’s Barn) we see the reason for the demise: Pat has died.
I didn’t fully realize until this moment that it was called the Farmer’s Barn. This is because until that sign was changed to Pat’s memorial information, it said, “Do not need a farm to enjoy the barn”
Both Yelp and Facebook have confirmed the closing of this bar. I learned from the Yelp reviews that they only served beer and wine, accepted no credit cards and had a happy hour from 7-11am. I usually saw people heading in around seven on the days when I rode my bike to work and took Denver. That explains that.
I will be interested to see if this building is replaced. My guess is yes.
When a former strip club and front for a prostitution ring is torn down in order to build affordable housing, it’s a very good day for the neighborhood.
Even better? When a bunch of small organizations were the ones who bought the property in the first place, because they knew that good piece of land would be better served by a different sort of building.
News has come recently that one of the biggest food cart pods in Portland will be disassembled to make way for new construction. The 10th & Alder block–now ringed with food carts–will become another high-rise building.
This, I made it a priority to snap this picture of the original cart on the block.
These pictures came out darker than I thought. Apparently I took them at the time of day when my eyes register more light than my camera.
These three houses were mostly boarded up from the inside, so I didn’t notice that they had been vacated. They are on Denver Ave., just off of Rosa Parks Way. They are the type of house I love: small house, bigger lot. North Portland had a ton of these houses when I moved here in 2007. There are fewer now. And soon there will be three fewer.
Portland Maps shows an interesting situation for these houses. Two of them are on the same lot (6541 N. Denver) and the lot seems to extend into the third house, though it has it’s own address (6525 N. Denver). The middle house is not shown as having an address, both on Portland Maps and on Google Maps. However, the information on Portland Maps shows square footage for all three houses in the 6541 N. Denver record and there’s no information on the third house in the 6525 N. Denver record, So I’m assuming all three houses are included on one lot.
The lot was last sold in 1977 for $58,500. According to an inflation calculator, that’s about $231,000 of today’s dollars. I’m unclear if that $58k price reflects that it has three houses on it. In June, this lot sold for [and here I must interject via brackets that the number I’m about to type makes me literally nauseous] $1.6 million.
Wait! It seems the $1.6m is for all three houses on the block, plus the former recycling center on the corner. Nausea has slightly abated. Only slightly. My favorite site Next Portland had this to say on 10/27/17 :
Proposed development of a split zoning site, CG and R5. four story apartment building (20 units or more) on the GC portion of the site and 2 new single family homes on the R5 portion of the site. All existing structures on site to be demoed.
By dividing $1.6m four ways, that roughly pencils out to $400,000 per lot.
Four hundred thousand dollars for just the land. That’s before the demo.
And that, friends, is why we have a homelessness problem in Portland.
Fun fact, I first noticed these houses had been boarded up when I saw one of our neighborhood homeless residents sleeping on the porch of the red house.
Onto the houses. This guy is 600 square feet, with a full basement. It’s the corner lot and has a nice big backyard.
This house is 720 square feet with a full basement. The assessment also includes 500 square feet of concrete which you see in the picture. It serves as the driveway for both houses. This is my favorite house of the three, though I think it has the smaller yard.
This house is 720 square feet with a full basement. It is right next to the former recycling center.
The records don’t say, but I’m guessing houses 2 and 3 were built by the same builder. They look very much the same. There’s a good chance house the first house was built then too. They have a lot of the same lines.
The record on Portland Maps only lists 1922 as a build date and it doesn’t specify if that year applies to all three houses. Either way, I will miss their presence.
Here’s a side view of where the recycling center used to be. Portland Maps says this garage (it probably was one before it was the recycling center) was built in 1950. I can’t tell if this property was owned by the same person who owned the houses, but my guess is yes. If so, that person made a tidy profit on this sale.
The recycling center (Far West Fibers) closed soon after China stopped taking plastic from the USA, citing too much contamination. It was too bad, as this was a handy place for me to drop off the plastic that couldn’t be recycled curbside.
Bonus picture! The property at 1936 NE Alberta. It’s a bit of office/shop space in the middle of a residential neighborhood. These are always a fun find for me. They are almost never shops or offices anymore, as our shopping patterns have changed enough that they are not viable as neighborhood shops.
Today, though, I was even more excited to find this detail.
Exposed: the previous shell of the building. It looks like sometime–I’m guessing mid-twentieth century–this building was revitalized to make it more modern. The sides were built out to make the structure more box-like and the brick was added.
If it weren’t a little too dark, you could see the former slanted roof which has been covered by the more modern flat roof.
Despite its office-looking appearance, Portland Maps lists this as a single family residential building. It was bought in 1994 for $135,000 (about $236k today) and was sold in 2017 for $695,000. The owners live on site, so I’m not sure what their plan is. Live in it? Demo and rebuild? It’s a big enough lot they could. There’s nothing on Next Portland’s development map, so we shall have to see.
Either way, I’m glad I got a chance to peek at what was there before.