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

Confused Plants

Dear Liza,

This afternoon Auntie Bridgett and I bundled up and went for a walk around the neighborhood. We saw the usual bare trees and brilliant blue sky, a few lonely piles of leaves no one had thought to rake, and a few folks out putting up Christmas lights.

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Winter-blooming Camillia
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Winter blooming Fuschia?

But what caught me eye were flowers! Real, blooming flowers, looking amazingly lovely but out of place.

It has been near freezing every night, and not much more than during the day. We haven’t had rain in a week.

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Shasta Daisy in December…

How are these growing here? They are not in fancy greenhouses, but rather tatty looking yards, looking sort of like they forget summer was over.

I have not a clue why, but I took pictures of them to prove they were indeed here. Just another surprise up here in Portland.


Grandma Judy


Park Tour in North Portland

Dear Liza,

Rain has become the “normal weather” here, so when there is some sun, we make the most of it! Sunday was a sunny day so Grandpa Nelson and I went out for a driving “park tour” of this City of Roses. Auntie Bridgett had a lot of art work to do, so we kissed her good-bye and promised to bring back good pictures.

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Band stand at Peninsula Park

First, we drove to Peninsula Park. which was built in 1909 as the city Rose Garden. There are a few thousand rose bushes, with a very few blooms still in sight. Most were pruned down for the winter, of course, and the garden was laid out in a wonderfully formal arrangement, looking like they belong in Le Jardin du Luxembourg in Paris. There is also a gazebo-style bandstand and old fashioned pavings. These are surrounded by tall and beautiful elm, birch, maple and ginko trees, all shedding their leaves most colorfully. There is even a soccer field and play area.

We left Peninsula Park knowing that we would return in the summer to see the roses at their peak, and headed off to find lunch. In the historic suburb of Kenton we found lunch and Paul Bunyon. This 31 foot tall statue of the legendary lumberjack was built in 1959 (when I was three years old!) as a tribute to the lumber industry in Portland. It got a new coat of paint last year. The statue is very big for the little bit of land it is on, but people come from all over to see it.

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Paul Bunyon

We enjoyed lunch at Swift and Union, a beef-themed cafe where we had no beef: french fries, squash soup, and salmon cakes filled us up and made us happy.

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Columbia Park

We drove west to Columbia Park, which was built in 1891, when this area was still a separate city called Albina. The park has climbing and water toys for summer, basketball courts, but also a large forested area for walking through. It was nearly empty and very beautiful. The fallen leaves made an almost uniform carpet over sidewalks, walls and lawns, looking like a coloring book filled in by someone with only a yellow crayon.

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St. John’s Bridge from Cathedral Park

Westward and northward, we passed the University of Portland Campus and drove along the Willamette to Cathedral Park, so called because it runs along the river under the cathedral-like columns of St. John’s Bridge. The bridge was built in 1931 and is acknowledged to be the most beautiful bridge in the city, and possibly in the country. This park has no formal plantings, but some large public sculpture, trees, and the river and bridge itself make for a memorable spot.

When we were cold and a little damp (the sun had hidden itself behind some clouds) we got back in Miles the Volkswagen and drove across this lovely bridge. It is so high above the river ( 205 feet) it doesn’t need to be a drawbridge like the others in town, and soars like a rainbow.

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Rain forest in Forest Park

On the west shore, we found Forest Park, a 5,157 acre park with almost no development. It is, as it promises, a forest. We found a narrow residential road that ended at Lief Erickson Drive, which looks like it used to be for cars but is now only for bikes and people. It was getting damper and colder, but we walked a quarter mile up and found a Jurassic Park-like rain forest and fairy sized waterfalls. We will come back here again.

Driving back to town, I noticed that the #15 bus runs almost to the park entrance! I could walk to Belmont, get on the bus, and be here in about an hour. Or in the car, 20 minutes. Not bad for proximity to a huge, bustling city.

We got home and warmed up, and when Auntie Bridgett had finished her work, she and I went for a walk through Lone Fir Cemetery. But I will tell you about that tomorrow.


Grandma Judy