Another city block is being transformed. It is happening a lot downtown right now. The block to the right, which appears to have nothing on it, was a parking lot a year and a half ago. They tore up the parking lot, built and underground garage and this spring will install a park. “Tear up a parking lot and build a park” or something like that was the tag line with that project. It had “Big Yellow Taxi” in my head for weeks on end. The block north of the soon to be park is also coming down. A big mixed use office tower/retail and maybe condos? will be sprouting there next. The Virgina Cafe moved down the street and around the corner, but I’m most sad about the Mercantile, which was a clothing store too fancy for me to shop in, but which always had nice window displays. It has moved around the corner and down the street too, but now it’s not on my walking route.
My walk from the Max to work takes me along Davis Street. I’ve walked the length of sidewalk between Second and Third Avenues more than 100 times and never looked to my left at just the right moment. Due to some welding that was happening on the side of the street I usually walk on, today I crossed street and I spied a doorway. “How long has that been there?” I wondered to myself.
It looked open, so I wandered in. I followed the brick path through a brick corridor…
…and ended up in a charming courtyard.
There was a handy sign to let me know that the Merchants’ Hotel was built in 1885 and not only was it a fancy hotel, it had one of the first hydraulic elevators in Portland. Between World Wars, the hotel housed a number of Japanese businesses, including the Japanese-Oregon daily newspaper. The sign does not go on to say that with the coming of World War II all of those Japanese businesses would be abandoned as the Japanese were “relocated”, but ideally you know that story.
Excited to have found a nook of history on a day that only comes around every four years, I turned around and happily continued my trek to work.
I was on my way to the doctor when I came across this upstart plant. It had the nerve to grow out of the side of a building!
I thought perhaps it had grown from the ground up behind the metal panel between the two windows, emerging mid-building.
A closer look revealed that it hadn’t come from the ground at all, but had taken root halfway up the building.
Whenever I find something like this, it reminds me how temporary our buildings are, without a human to maintain them. Plants, water, wind and weather are much stronger than concrete, given enough time.
In which I attempt to ride all the yellow, green, blue & purple streets on the Bike There Bike Map while increasing strength, stamina, aerobic capacity and exploring Portland’s nooks and crannies.
Weather: Sunny & Cold
Ride Average Speed: 10.2 mph
Distance: 10.6 mi
Average Heart Rate: 132
N Lombard & N Denver
Go to Interstate and turn left
L on Ainsworth
L on Williams to Vancouver
R on Schmeer (hooks around)
R on 6th Dr.
Right into Children’s Arboretum
Come back out
L on 6th Dr.
L on Vancouver Way
L on Gertz Rd.
L on 13th
L on Marine Dr. to Bridgton
L on Gantenbein Ave.
R on Marine Dr.
At turnoff for Delta Park cut though park
Back to Denver.
Good route, though the whole Schmeer/6th Dr. was very heavily trafficked because a lot of industrial businesses don’t have President’s Day off. It would probably be better to ride there on a weekend.
The Columbia Children’s Arboretum is not well marked. I rode up and down that street looking for it and never found it.
How did I do?
It was clearly the first bike ride in a very long time. I had a longer route planned, but 10 miles was the limit for me, so I cut it short. I rode very slowly and it was nice to be out.
Glorious Bicycling Moments/Neat Things:
Mount St. Helens was out.
NE 13th Ave. was a mishmash of houses. There were older houses that felt free enough to do whatever they wanted, say paint large flowers on their garages.
There were gated communities. This made me laugh. That flimsy gate isn’t keeping anyone out who doesn’t want to come in, and anyway, a gated community in this area? You’ve got to be kidding.
There were also McMansions next to very modestly built houses. If you’ve got to locate your McMansion next to a run down 60s ranch, you still haven’t made it.
NE Bridgetown Rd turned out to be interesting. The road has been in the news lately
because the US Army Corps of Engineers wants to cut down all their trees. Bridgetown Road is a levee and the Corps doesn’t like trees on the levees. I was under the impression that the trees had all been cut down, but this picture clearly shows trees.
I was also surprised to see that
From newspaper reports I expected a bunch of houses like this.
There are a lot of house boats in the neighborhood. It was a fun place to ride.
I needed to walk to Lowe’s today and because I didn’t have church this morning, decided to take a longer way to see how it connected to my usual route. What I foudnd was a bit of a surprise.
Oregon does this thing I love called “One Percent for Art.” Whenever there is a large construction project, Oregon law requires, “not less than 1% of the direct construction funds of new or remodeled state buildings with construction budgets of $100,000 or greater for the acquisition of art work which may be an integral part of the building, attached thereto, or capable of display in other State Buildings” What this means is that whenever there is a big construction project, we get pubic art. The Max lines are a great place to see art.
This is my favorite art on the Yellow Line. Due to my not-so-fabulous picture, you might not be able to see, but along this bridge between Kenton and Delta park, there are these great flaming comets. They remind me of pinballs and it is fun to see the trains shoot through the pinballs and makes the bridge look like a large public pinball machine. The artist was inspired by 50s car culture. Back in the day, the people who lived in Vanport, a housing project built during the war for shipbuilders, used to race their cars on the back roads in this area of North Portland. Eventually Portland International Raceway was located in North Portland. My normal walk to Lowe’s involves bypassing this sign and walking all the way up to that brown sign in the distance. Then I take a right and another right and voila! There is Lowe’s. Sort of. I still have to walk though a few parking lots to get there. Today I took a right at the sign and figured the road would loop about before I hooked up with Hayden Meadows Drive and Lowe’s.
I turned out to be entirely wrong and for a very rare reason: I had the street running the wrong direction in my mental map. In my mind, Schmeer Road ran East/West, or perpendicular to the freeway. By taking this route, I realized that it actually is a North/South street and runs parallel to the freeway. It was incredibly disorienting, but once I realigned my directions, I realized that this route was about 10 minutes shorter than my previous one.
Schmeer Road looks like many places located next to a freeway. Big box stores, gas stations, chain restaurants, auto parts places. It’s not pretty, but I have no neighborhood hardware store, so I have to wade through all of this to get to a big box hardware store.
Schmeer Road also has Portland Meadows, the horse racing track and also the place where my brother saw a Grateful Dead concert in the 90’s.
I love walking by the Burrito House. It puts a smile on my face because to me “Burrito House” and “Fine Mexican Food” don’t really exist in the same place. Maybe “Good Mexican Food” and “Burrito House”, but anything with “House” in its name doesn’t get to use the word “fine” in my book.
I’m not sure what this building is being used for, but it is very well taken care of. It is always a highlight of my walks when I head North.
So lately this blog has been more “In & Inactive” than “Out & About.” This is due mainly two reasons:
- Lack of sleep has kept me from morning exercise so fewer pictures from there.
- It’s really dark all the time in the winter here.
This morning, though I walked to the Tin Shed Garden Cafe where I ate breakfast with Jan & Kelly. Here are some pictures I took along the way:
Along this stretch were some nice post-war cottages. Then this tiny little house with a huge front yard and no back yard.
This part of North/Northeast Portland is the only area I’ve found in the city with alleys. Most of them seem to be little used, and some are grown over completely with blackberry brambles.
This shared garage reminded me of houses in South Boston. One owner would update the paint job on their half of the house and the other owner wouldn’t. It was pretty common to see two-toned houses. I’ve rarely seen shared garages in this town, though.
Here’s a cute little post-war house that decided to embrace the swinging 60s with geometrical porch supports, a new door and windows. The sign at the corner of the house says “Suits Me Too”
Along one side street two woman were chatting outside a van. One asked me if I would like to buy tamales. I’d never eaten one, so I took the opportunity to ask the silly questions I’d always been too shy to ask in restaurants. Questions like, “Do you eat the wrapper?” “What’s inside them?” They were selling them six for $5.00 and so I bought some chicken ones. They were good too. I’ve got a card to call if I want more and they will deliver to me.
I like clever graffiti, but this just seems like it needs to be a little more clear. What was hot? It was hot and what?
After Jan & Kelly and I ate and solved the problems of the world we went for a stroll. It was a rare February nice day. Blue sky and warm temperatures. Days like this make winter bearable.
Of course there would be a skeleton in Warrior One on top of a ladder on top of store. Don’t you have one in your town?
My week off afforded a morning walk when it was actually light out. I’m having a bit of trouble with the darkness and cold this winter. Highlights:
Long before I lived in North Portland I used to bike here a lot. I’ve always loved the small house/big lot combination that flourishes here. This is a nice example.
Oh my, what a pretty craftsman house. I love it!
Except from this direction where they have decided to add a carport-cum-drive-in. If the zoning changes, they can make a killing serving hamburgers and root beer floats. What were they thinking?
What would this hole be doing in this fence?
Ah, a hole left over from the days when the meter reader actually had to read the meter.
This fence surrounded this very box-like house. The very rectangular house takes up the whole lot and is surrounded by a tall fence. The roof is pretty flat. U-G-L-Y It don’t need no alibi… It was for sale and the flyer said, “Must see inside.” Judging from the outside, I think that was all they could say.
Portland is such a bike-y city that there are subsets of cyclists in town. One of the subsets is people who never refer to themselves as cyclists. Another is people with tall bikes.
Tall bikes are cool. They are cool because you pretty much have to make your own tall bike, or be friends with someone who does. They are cool because you get to ride far above cars. They are cool because small children gleefully point when they see them. I would love to ride one.
I had the chance. One of the parents of a first grader at my school has a tall bike. I was exclaiming over it, and he offered to let me ride. I automatically said, “Oh, no. I couldn’t,” and then kicked myself later. Next time he offers, I won’t be so quick to say no.