The pressure's on again. Every time The New York Times travel section zeros in on a Portland neighborhood, citing its coolness, further whetting its cutting edge, it means the City that Works has to heave itself up and out of its cafe chair and create another hip street. It's exhausting.
There's no denying, though, that "Saved by Design in Portland" by Jane Hodges is right on the money.
Instead of a pedestrian-free street saddled by sagging repair shops and building-trades businesses, Northeast Alberta Street is now lined with colorful galleries and boutiques where visitors can browse for street art, shop for a handmade felt hat, overhaul a bicycle with used parts and even get acupuncture at a tea shop.
Just a couple of years ago this Northeast Portland neighborhood made the news only on account of crime, never its consumer joys. As the NYT piece notes, landlord Roslyn Hill deserves much of the credit for buying up crumbling buildings and galvanizing locals and newcomers alike to set up shop. The artsy flavor of the street has since attracted designers of all sorts, from graphic to clothing, giving it a depth greater than neighborhoods that have only touristy stores with craft-wares for sale.
There are still some homely service businesses within a coffee-bean's throw from Alberta, but like all of Portland's cool streets, it is getting harder to find life's basics like a cobbler, drycleaner and drugstore alongside the pottery and custom-clothing purveyors.
It's nice to be recognized for something other than our mayoral mess, but if the NYT insists on outing these places, and forcing Portland's forward-thinking types to make new camps, we're all going to end up driving across the bridge to Vancouver whenever we need a pair of shoes resoled.