Portland is one big city that used to be a lot of smaller cities. Our own neighborhood of Sunnyside used to be part of a town called East Portland.
Ten miles north of downtown Portland was the town of St. John’s. It was a separate city from its founding in 1902 until 1915, when citizens of St. John’s and Portland voted to combine the cities. Because it is separated by a large industrial park along the river, St. Johns has kept its own flavor and style. It is quirky, with a mixture of country clunk and wry humor that is very different from the hipper, slicker style of Downtown.
Crossing several bridges over our magnificent river just because we can, we drove to this lovely outpost for lunch the other day, and stepped into McMenamin’s St. John’s Pub. It has the magic garden-y feel of most of McMenamin’s properties, with lots of plantings, smaller spaces within the big space, and art in unexpected corners.
We had cold drinks to take the edge off the 90 degree heat and just took some time out from 2022. We watched the cottonwood seeds drift by like fairy dandruff and heard Steller jays mentioning that they would like some fries, please.
When we were relaxed and sated, we took a slow walk around the ‘downtown’ of St. John’s. We enjoyed seeing how the old has become new. An extinct Signal gas station sells pizza, an old book shop sells second hand records.
Everywhere, the past which could have been lost has been kept and re-purposed.
We started to get very warm as the day heated up, and decided it was time to head home. Getting delightfully lost as we often do, we saw parts of the city we have never visited, and realized there is still a lot of Portland we haven’t seen.
More to explore for later!