Back in 1888, Portland streets were not paved, which meant they were dusty all summer and muddy all winter. Getting around downtown was a mess! People didn’t want to walk very far to shop or get to work or school, and downtown was getting crowded. The city needed to stretch out, but had no way to do it.
The Morrison Bridge, built in 1887 to the east side of the Willamette River, and a few trolley companies, solved this congestion. Our neighborhood of Sunnyside was one of the first “trolley neighborhoods”, built along the newly expanding trolley line on Morrison Avenue, just a block up from Belmont. Riding the trolley across the river and east two short miles allowed people to work downtown but live in the country.. There were dairies and apple farms here until 1941!
Which means that rich people, like Thaddeus Fisher and J.C. Havely, built their lovely Queen Anne style houses within sight of dairy farms, but also a block away from the main hub of new shops and cafes along Belmont Avenue. The combination of cows, shops, and homes may seem odd to us, but apparently it was a winning combination in 1888.
Belmont Avenue is still the main drag of this area. Quirky small shops like Noun ( A Person’s Place for Things) and St. Cupcake make afternoon shopping fun. There are restaurants like Suzette, which offers sweet and savory crepes as well as cocktail and Circa33, and prohibition style cocktail bar. Circa 33 has a fifteen foot high liquor collection and vintage newspapers on the wall. StumptownCoffee is also a local gathering place.
On the streets just off Belmont are a mixture of houses built in the late 1800s and newer condominiums and mixed use buildings, such as the Belmont Dairy Townhomes. Our favorite local place, TheHobnobGrille, is here. Great food, silly wait staff, and board games at every table make for a fun evening out.
It will take long months of studious, diligent wining and dining before we have fully explored our immediate neighborhood. But we are up to the challenge!