Ladd’s Addition

Confusing Street Signs

Dear Liza,

Even though Portland is a big city, there are lots of different neighborhoods, each with its own history and personality. Ladd’s Addition, where Auntie Katie lives, is one of my favorites. It runs from Hawthorne on the north to Division on the south, and between 12th and 21st west and east.

Ladd’s Addition is named for William Ladd, who was mayor of Portland for a year back in the late 1800s. He was a merchant, which meant he bought and sold things. He was very successful. After he had made a lot of  money from his stores, he started buying property. He bought 126 acres of Eastside Portland and, in 1891, when the city of Portland annexed the Eastside, he divided his land into a neighborhood. At that time, there were already streets and houses on the Eastside.

But what makes Ladd’s Addition different was the shape of the neighborhood. Instead of streets that ran north/south and east/west, like the rest of the city, he copied Pierre L’Enfant’s pattern from Washington D.C., and made it more of an “X” shape. Go to googlemaps and look it up. It’ll give you a chuckle.

Lovely old houses
Tree swing? Of course!

I love Ladd’s Addition because of its quirkiness, its huge trees, its family friendliness, and its architecture. Many of the houses were built between 1900 and 1920 from kits that came on railroad cars from stores back east. Newer than the gingerbread-y Victorians of other parts of town, they are Craftsman style, Foursquare, and Federal styles. Some are lovely small bungalows, and others are practically mansions!

And I haven’t even mentioned the rose gardens. Where streets cross between Elliot and Ladd, there are four gardens, called East, West, North and South. These are maintained by volunteers (since the city has had budget issues) and are magnificent. Beds of older and newer varieties grow higher than my head and are obviously very, very happy.

Really Happy “Strike it Rich”

Of course, the odd arrangement of streets makes Ladd’s hard to navigate. It is easy to get disoriented when going around the central circle, as there are no right angles and ten streets to choose from. But you get the hang of it after a while, and if you get lost, at least you are in a nice neighborhood!


And I get the walk through this paradise whenever I visit Auntie Katie’s house or even her shop, which is just on the other side. Life is sweet in Portland.


Grandma Judy

Author: Judy

I am a new transplant to Portland from Salinas, a small city in Central California. This is a blog about my new city.

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