Tiled Entrances

Dear Liza,img_01781.jpg

I love walking around Portland, and especially our Belmont neighborhood, looking for signs of the past. They are like layers in a painting or the growth rings of a tree, showing you what has come before.

One example of these signs are, literally, signs. Many of the tiled doorways that businesses laid down in the 1890s are still looking good, even when the original business has long gone.

The Pantorium, for example, was a dry goods store on Belmont in 1894. Since then the building has been more shops than I can count, including “It’s a Beautiful Pizza”, “Hall of Records” and currently, “Suzette”, home of sweet and savory crepes and delicious cocktails. But the tiled entryway still reminds us of what has come before in an elegant, useful way.

Other doorways graced by tiles show the permanence of cities. The Laurelview Apartments have been right here, renting space within sight of our beloved Laurelhurst Park since the turn of the century. Back then the park was fairly new, and the trees were just coming into their own.getattachmentthumbnail.jpg

Another way the tiled entrances show us the history of the city is by the addresses. As Portland grew, it incorporated smaller surrounding cities, which then became neighborhoods. St. John’s, East Portland, Albina, and others had their own street systems and addresses, which were carried over to their new status as as part of Portland, causing duplicate streets and addresses. This confusion was solved in The Great Renaming of the 1930s, which introduced an organized grid system. Numbered streets told you how far east or west of the Willamette you were, and north and south told you where you were in relation to Burnside Avenue. It was a few years’ work, but sure makes getting around town easier now! img_0175.jpg

The address of this shop used to be 1114 Hawthorne. After the renumbering, it became 3741 SE Hawthorne, which places it 37 blocks east of the Willamette, and south of Burnside Street. I am happy that all the owners in between have chosen to keep the old tiled entryway.

Layers of history, everywhere I look. Amazing.

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Love,

Grandma Judy

Belmont Street

Dear Liza,

Yesterday we went for a long walk down to Hawthorne Street, looking at a house that is for sale and getting the feel of the neighborhood. Parts of the house were very nice, but there was a lot of work that needed doing….old damp carpet in the attic indicated possible roof problems, for example, and the basement had some weird plumbing going on.

On the walk home, we left Hawthorne and walked up to Belmont Street. It isn’t as full of shops and restaurants, but it feels more livable. There are lots of lovely houses in that area, as well, so we have made a note to keep our eyes peeled.

On Belmont there are also interesting businesses. The biggest is Movie Madness at Belmont and 44th. This isn’t just an old style video store, as I had thought. It rents video, and cds, to be sure, but it is also a museum! There are artifacts used in movies, costumes, and posters. The dress Julie Andrews wore while singing “DoRe Mi” was right there on a mannequin!

Besides the wonderful costumes and things from movies, there are thousands and thousands of movies to rent, both vhs and cd format. The “Horror” section alone is two long walls, and Christmas is the whole foyer. Many of these movies are old, rare movies that you can’t find anywhere else. This is a real resource for movie buffs in town.

A few months ago, Movie Madness was going broke, on the edge of going out of business. A local movie theater , The Hollywood,did a Kickstarter online fundraiser, which made enough money to keep Movie Madness in business.

We enjoyed our walk through Movie Madness and will go back again, I am sure.

The other business we visited was Never Coffee, at 43rd and Belmont. Their decor is colorful and their folks friendly, and the coffee is good. But what cheered us up on the chilly day after our long walk was their sweet treats! They have muffins and cookies, pastries and bars. We enjoyed some spicy ginger cookies and felt much better for our long walk home.

Love,

Grandma Judy