Northeast Portland

Question someone who has lived in this fair city for more than 10 years and they will relate to you, with jaw agape, how shocked they are that Northeast Alberta has become the bustling consumer district it currently is.

Question someone who has lived in this fair city for more than 10 years and they will relate to you, with jaw agape, how shocked they are that Northeast Alberta has become the bustling consumer district it currently is.

Just how did it come to be this way?

Well, that’s an interesting story involving money, “white flight” and more money, all of which have combined to turn Northeast Portland’s crack houses into charming Thai bistros, its pawn shops to chic coffee houses and its abandoned lots to flash-mob concert venues.

What happened to the people who used to live in these quasi-affordable neighborhoods? Well…we prefer not to talk about that (cough, Gresham, cough).

Instead, we like to celebrate how nice it is to go shopping on North Mississippi, or how much of a blast it is to enjoy Last Thursday on Northeast Alberta.

These events are made even more enticing by the fact that you can probably find affordable housing within five blocks of their on-going; housing with ample basements, no less that are perfect for your band/art studio/fifth roommate you didn’t tell your landlord about.

All this is made even more appealing by the fact that Northeast Portland still maintains some of the grit of its past days, thereby allowing students and other artistic types to argue that they live some place more “real” than their peers in Southeast or Northwest.

That is, of course, until Gresham becomes cool, at which point we’ve all got to pack up and find some place else to populate with bike racks and Wednesday night basement shows. But don’t worry, that’s still at least four years off.

Top 10 places:

Blue3753 N. Mississippi Ave.503-542-0888A pleasantly trendy clothing store on North Mississippi, Blue is one of many fine options for finding independent threads for girls and their boy-toys in this burgeoning shopping district.

Beaterville Café2201 N. Killingsworth St.503-735-4652For whatever reasons, greasy breakfast food and the automotive industry compliment each other very well. Having realized this, the proprietors of Beaterville combine the two to maximum effect, offering healthy portions at student-approved prices in the pleasant heart of one of Northeast Portland’s quieter neighborhoods.

Triangle Park Super-Fun Zone5828 N. Van Houton Place Tucked away behind the University of Portland campus, Triangle Park is an abandoned shipping yard that has been dutifully reclaimed by the more frightening residents of Northeast Portland.

This “Super-Fun Zone” is a great place to catch some exciting graffiti, play around on abandoned shipping equipment and wax philosophically about the state of American industrial decay.

(Editor’s note: It is a federal crime to trespass on the Triangle Park property, and the Vanguard in no way endorses doing something so reckless and stupid, even if it is really, really fun.)

Community Cycling Center1700 N.E. Alberta St. 503-288-8864If there are two things this city loves they are non-profits and bicycles. Combining both these elements is Northeast Alberta’s Community Cycling Center, which is not only a great place to find some cheap, lovingly rebuilt wheels but is also an excellent source for cycling education and awareness.

The Wonder Ballroom128 N.E. Russell St. 503-284-8686One of North Portland’s premier music venues, the Wonder Ballroom nets local and national acts of uncompromising quality as well as some good DJ nights and the occasional theme party. Plus, you can book them for your wedding reception, should you have the need.

Tree of Shame1815 N. Sumner St.503-283-6835Part avant-garde lawn decoration and part political commentary, North Portland’s Tree of Shame is well worth seeking out in its hiding place near Northeast Killingsworth. Using their front yard as a canvas, the residents have created a piece of performance art featuring the papier-m퀌�ché heads of several prominent politicians, at least one faux-coffin and a metric ton of liberal outrage.

St. John’s 1 and 2 Theatre8704 N. Lombard St. 503-286-1768Though it rarely gets much love, North Portland’s St. John’s neighborhood is practically a city in and of itself, boasting its own small stash of coffee shops, record stores and the excellent St. John’s 1 and 2 Theatre. Featuring a massive screening room, the theater’s beer-soaked atmosphere is best for viewing

Laughing Planet3745 N. Mississippi Ave. 503-467-4146These quick-service restaurants are becoming ubiquitous around town, with locations in Northwest, Belmont Sreet and even Eugene. Tasty, healthy food abounds, with bowls, burritos, salads and quesadillas populating a thankfully inexpensive menu. Think McDonald’s, except for hipsters and the health-conscious.

Infinity Tattoo3316 N. Lombard St.503-231-4777Though housed in an unexpected location, Infinity Tattoo is an above-average addition to this city’s plethora of ink shops. What really makes the shop is its artists, who are not only talented but will happily kvetch with clients and onlookers as well as gently dissuade you from any truly horrible body art decisions.

Bridge City Comics3725 N. Mississippi Ave.503-282-5484Bridge City has enough mainstream titles for the true devotees along with a healthy smattering of “artsy” comics for those pursuers who feel that picture books are somehow threatening to their intellectual credentials. It’s a great place to start your next literary addiction.

The essentials:

Medical care: Providence Portland Medical Center 4805 N.E. Glisan St.503-215-1111

Foodstuffs: New Seasons6400 N. Interstate Ave.503-467-4777

Fred Meyer6850 N. Lombard503-240-2700

Safeway5920 N.E. Martin Luther King Blvd.503-284-5958

Bus lines and MAX to PSU: Both the Red and Yellow line MAX trains run up to North Portland, though the Yellow line is probably better for getting to the area’s residential neighborhoods with its stops at the Albina, Killingsworth, Prescott and Portland Boulevard transit stations.

A number of bus lines run between North Portland and PSU–with a ride averaging about 35 minutes: the 8, 9 and 44.

For more info on public transit lines visit or check out the transit guide in this issue of the Vanguard.