The Best Thing About Your Neighborhood?

What’s the best thing about your neighborhood?*

I’ve called the following Portland neighborhoods home for at least a year a piece: Reed, Creston-Kenilworth (twice), Buckman, Goose Hollow, Hosford-Abernathy, Mt. Scott (twice), Richmond, Downtown (twice), and Boise (twice).

The list is roughly in chronological order. Between the two residencies in the Mt. Scott neighborhood I lived in Hawaii for a year and eight months, but otherwise I’ve lived in the Portland area my entire life, and over half of that in Portland proper; mostly inner Southeast, with a bit of North and Southwest to spice things up.

I’m on my second stint in the Boise neighborhood right now, and of all the neighborhoods I’ve lived in, it’s the best fit for me. I like to walk. I’m car-free, and I generally eschew the bicycle. Boise is one of the most compact and walkable neighborhoods in town. North Williams (Vendetta and Dalo’s Kitchen!) is only a few blocks from my apartment. The main business district, North Mississippi Avenue from Fremont to Skidmore, extends a mere five blocks, and is at my doorstep. Within that five block I have almost everything I could ask for (cafes, bars, restaurants, and a bottle shop!), with the notable exception of a grocery store (Pastaworks and the Nu Rite Way Market don’t count). But a New Seasons and a Fred Meyers are not too far away, right along the Yellow Line. Both are also easy to get to by bike, since there are no major hills to contend with. Downtown is a mere three miles away, so I can walk to work, but I also have both bus and MAX transit options within a few blocks (though lately I’ve been carpooling with my girlfriend).

But I’ve liked elements of all the neighborhoods I’ve lived in (otherwise I wouldn’t have chosen to live there).

I especially liked the Goose Hollow and Downtown neighborhoods for their proximity to everything, and the central transit location. It was just as easy to visit my friends in West Moreland as it was to head up to North Portland. I enjoyed being able to go home for lunch to take a nap. And being able to stumble home from Timbers’ matches is something I will sorely miss this summer.

The Mount Scott neighborhood has surprisingly good transit (the frequent service 14 runs on Foster at its northern edge), and is close to the Woodstock area, which is where I had a lot of friends in the early post-college years. I miss the Lutz Tavern something fierce sometimes.

I lived in the Buckman neighborhood before the East Burnside and NE 28th street renaissances, but it was in my immediate college days when I worked at a laundromat, so I had no money anyway. The Food Valu on Burnside (now a New Seasons Whole Foods [thanks Lucas!]) had forgotten to take Kraft Macaroni and Cheese off the sale price (3/$.99!), so I survived on that for months. Another great neighborhood for transit, it was a great home base.

The one thing all of these neighborhoods have in common is proximity to decent transit; a requirement for me. I’ve explored and enjoyed lots of other neighborhoods, notably St. Johns, Montavilla, and Multnomah Village (where I’ll be going on a local-guided pub crawl soon!), but I don’t think I’d want to live in any of them since on foot or by transit they’re so far from where I generally work and play.

Transit, bars, and restaurants are important to me. For you is it the schools, architecture, your neighbors, your house?

What’s your favorite thing about your neighborhood?

* If you’re not entirely certain what neighborhood you’re in, it’s easy to find out at Portland Mapsjust enter your address, and in the upper left it will show you. Portland’s Office of Neighborhood Involvement also has citywide and individual neighborhood maps, and information about all the neighborhood associations.

Neighborhood Notes is a great event and news source, searchable by neighborhood. And the Portland Neighborhood Guide is a useful resource for getting your bearings, especially for newcomers.


  1. Multnomah Village is really close in (about 5 miles to City Hall, with many bus lines), has a wonderful small country town feel, has an excellent book store and toy store and used book store and some outstanding boutiques, good pubs and coffee, fair restaurants, an incredible park (complete w/beloved community center which the NIMBYs opposed). And I consider Hillsdale — better restaurants, less-excellent but still-good shopping — part of it. Still undiscovered, compared to the equivalent in NW or on the East Side. I love it here.

    Lemme know when you’re on your MV pub crawl. I will kibbitz.

  2. I love St. Johns – we have almost everything a girl needs within walking or biking distance. It is a bit far from downtown which is occasionally irksome, and I feel that the public transportation is not as reliable in NoPo as it was when I lived closer in, but we have so many great little places (the St. Johns Cinema, Proper Eats, John Street Cafe, Signal Station, Leisure, etc.) that I get over my transit issues! The only thing we don’t have really close to my house is a great microbrewery (we do have a Mcmenamin’s), but hopefully the North End pub will start serving their own brews soon.

  3. Thanks for the shout out, Dave. We appreciate it. :-)

    The best thing about my neighborhood (pearl district) is that it’s easy to navigate on foot. I don’t have a car, so having everything I need within walking distance is key.

  4. I’m in Parkrose Heights. Best things: an excellent neighborhood school (Sacramento Elementary), and a good-sized, centrally located park (Knott Park). Also, proximity to businesses, shopping and light rail in Gateway.

  5. Beaumont-Wilshire (my locale) does very well on the walkability index; you can hoof it to the library, MAX line, movie theater, Beaumont Market (open every day, year-round), book store, a number of restaurants and coffee shops, etc.

    An oddity is that if one chooses to walk in the adjacent Hollywood ‘hood, there are a few rips in the space-time continuum that allow one to travel backwards to other decades.

  6. For Old Town Chinatown there’re too many contenders to choose a best. Why not do it yourselves? Come down for First Thursday to have supper in one of our new eateries between hopping among our three dozen galleries. Enjoy!

  7. I’m working on my 3rd neighborhood in the less than 2 years of living in Portland. When I first arrived, I followed the path of many new-to-Portlanders and started in NW, between 21st and 23rd. For me, at the time, it was the perfect place to land in my new city. I was able to get reacquainted with true urban living I had not experienced since I lived in Boston ten years ago. Streetcar was perfect, Trader Joe’s around the corner, I could walk to PGE Park or downtown with ease.

    The parking really is as bad as legend. Twenty minutes to find parking was not unusual. And my car bumpers need to be repainted from the parallel parking scrapes. Not from ME! I know how to parallel park! Damn it!

    I do miss that neighborhood. But it is rather young. When that many people live in such tight quarters, you are bound to find some neighbors without brains.

    Living in the Hawthorne area was okay. Living right ON Hawthorne was not so okay. The surrounding neighborhoods seemed lovely.

    Mississippi is great so far. It needs a walking-distance grocery store, pharmacy and credit union. If they can get those things, I may never leave.

  8. Buckman! Where we live, right at the eastern edge of Buckman across from Lone Fir Cemetery, we can walk in under 30 minutes to theaters/restaurants/shops etc from Division to Broadway, from the Barmuda Triangle to the River. I love it here.

    One correction: the old grocery on 28th/Burnside is now a Whole Foods (*spit*), not a New Seasons (if only!).

  9. Great post!

    My partner and I are moving to Portland at the end of the month and will be in the Northwest area near Washington Park. We’re excited to join the community.

    Love your blog!

  10. Bickle, Amy – Multnomah Village and St. Johns are both on my immediate list of neighborhoods to explore more. I’m looking forward to the summer festivals!

    Kathleen – I must confess I’ve only ever passed through Parkrose on transit. I’ll have to check it out when I get the chance.

    Bart – I keep meaning to make it to Fremont Fest in August, but something always comes up. What I’ve seen of Beaumont-Wilshire I like!

    Carol – Agreed! Old Town and Chinatown are fantastic. I’ve never lived in either, but I’ve spent plenty of time there. Definitely up and coming too.

    Heather – Boise grows on you, doesn’t it? I’m thrilled to be able to share your explorations with you [Note to those readers who don’t know: Heather is my lovely girlfriend!]

    Lucas – The Buckman neighborhood has a lot more going for it than it did back in the days that I lived there. It’s on my short list now of neighborhoods I would consider living in. (And thanks for the correction – I fixed the post!)

    Tammy – Glad you enjoy the blog! Northwest, as Heather mentions above, is a great intro neighborhood. It’s close to everything, and full of great restaurants, bars, cafes, and shops.

  11. to the Boise folks who are missing a grocery store: Cherry Sprout Produce Market is just up the street 1 block north of Alberta/Albina intersection. Great People, Great Produce. good for most other things.

    Also, thanks for reminding me of the Food Valu! I was talking about it months ago with Fred The Barber of the Laurelhurst Barber Shop, who has been in that neighborhood for 15-ish years now. No one ever called it anything else.

  12. Aaron – I dig Cherry Sprout Produce Market (and the Red Fox next door too!). You’re right, it’s not far away. A super short bike ride, but more than a couple block walk.

  13. I live up NW Thurman above MacLeay Park. I can run in Forest Park everyday without have to drive or deal with parking at the end of Thurman, but I am far enough from the parking problems near the park and around NW 23rd. Great park and elementary school at Chapman. Can walk to just about everything – breweries, grocery, shopping, restaurants, even PGE park! Pricey though.

  14. Southern edge of Irvington. Been in Irvington for the entire 13 years I’ve lived in PDX (save for the short stint in corporate housing when we first arrived.) Love the walkability, love the access to 3 different bus lines in one intersection alone, plus can walk to MAX if I choose.

  15. Rose City Park!

  16. Elisabeth says:

    St Johns, for all the reasons Amy said. If you bike there are a lot more transit choices too. Looking forward to North End Pub. :)

  17. Goose Hollow. This is the first place i moved to when i came to Portland. i live right behind the Zupans. Very nice, safe, quiet neighborhood, right next to the beautiful Washington Park, Japanese Gardens and, the Rose Garden. NW23rd is just a block from me. Amazing views of the whole city and mountains! very very close to the Pearl and Downtown. the only downside for me is its very expensive, my studio apt is 800 a month!!!, the hills are very awesome but at the same time its a pain to ride a bicycle or have to dismount and walk back up to my home. there are alot of rich people who live here. Not a very bicycle friendly neighborhood compared to other parts of portland. Im moving to Buckman soon. Im gonna miss the more city feel and views.

  18. We’re in Richmond, within walking distance of two New Seasons, a Stumptown, a gazillion restaurants, cafes, bars, and Mt. Tabor. We moved in before the Clinton/Division renaissance and are now pinching ourselves with glee over all the amazing things that have moved into the neighborhood. The truth is, though, that there are no bad places to live in Portland because it is the best city on earth.

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