PDX – Hawthorne Boulevard

We got back into our car and drove over a few blocks to Hawthorne Street.  I thought Belmont Street was a little small, quiet and empty, but Hawthorne was filled with stores for a few blocks and was starting to buzz with activity in the late morning.  I really like the feel of Hawthorne.  It feels like a bigger street than Belmont with more shops and all, but it definitely had a hipster feel to it with many a unique shop dotted along each side.  There was a giant Fred Meyer down by Hawthorne and 39th Avenue, but that definitely hold any interest for me.  We drove into the middle of Hawthorne Street near the Umpqua Bank (I just love saying that name) and Ben N’ Jerry’s, parked the car and walked around.

One of the first things I encountered on the side street was a bicycle shelter fancily labelled as a Bicycle Parking Oasis.  The “oasis” consisted of a metal frame with glass roof to protect precious bicycle saddles from the elements.  A neighbourhood map was splashed on one side to orient cyclists to where they were and to where they could go.  I must say that Portland has some neat bicycle parking ideas.  We just need a pond of water for the oasis.

Bicycle Parking Oasis

The biggest and most noticeable landmark on Hawthorne is the Bagdad Theater.  The tall sign topped with an outline of an onion dome dominates the front of the building and the streetscape.  It’s apparently a part of the McMenamins group of pubs, hotels, breweries and more.  We didn’t step in, but apparently the interior is quite a treat.  I’d check out the website for the photo gallery.  I may have to add this onto my next Portland to-do list.  Apart from being a theater, there is also a pub on-site. That’s something that we’ve struggled with in Vancouver with liquor laws prohibiting movie theatres from serving alcohol.  The Rio Theatre being the case-in-point in Vancouver.

Radiating out from the Bagdad Theater are an array of shops ranging from quirky to trendy.  I love the feel of the street because it’s filled with small, local, independent businesses.  Some are small individual buildings with a lot of charm.  Others are within larger brick buildings, but equally as enticing to visit.  It’s also a real mix of different styles all along the street.

There were two particularly off-beat shops. There was Naked City.  If that names doesn’t get your attention, then what will?  The window display also grabs your attention complete with mannequins talking via speech balloons.  It’s basically a clothing and accessories store.

Another attention grabbing store is the Red Light.  A poster in the window advertised a Naked Shopping Spree.  It’s a vintage clothing store.  It’s blog proclaims it sells wacky, wild and wonderful vintage clothing.

And no Portland street is complete without its selection of eateries and coffee shops.  There’s shortage here in this part of Stumptown.  All of them looked completely comfy and delectably delish.  My coworker had recommended a Mexican restaurant called Cha, Cha, Cha! (Sorry, no pic). It was too early in the day to be open, though.  However, walking around cafes and restaurants with a full stomach is not recommended.  I couldn’t try anything.  I must plan meal times better next time.

So we didn’t grab a bite along Hawthorne, but we did come across a neat stationary and gift store called Memento.  It had a fun collection of Portland goodies to buy.  There was square wooden tile with a circle, neighbourhood map of Portland.  I thought that was cool.  The price was $40.  The coolness quickly faded with the price tag. And because it was Valentine’s Day, there was plenty of red and pink nifties to purchase for loved ones.

So if you’re travelling through Portland and want to find a local neighbourhood street to explore, Hawthorne Boulevard would be a great choice.  Drive over the Hawthorne Bridge from downtown and keep plodding along Hawthorne Boulevard until you see the giant Bagdad Theater sign and you’ll know you’re in the right spot. As with all travel, you never know what you might come across.

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