Brian's Photo Blog — Article 551
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Exploring Portland’s NW 21st and 23rd Avenues
Friday 13 May 2016   —   Category: Outings
After 22 photographic walking tours of Portland in 2015, there were still many sections of the city I had not explored. One of them was the Northwest District. This area of the city center is bounded by Burnside Street on the south, Nicolai Street on the north, I-405 and the Willamette River on the east, and the West Hills on the west.

The principle north-south street through the Northwest District is NW 23rd Avenue, followed by NW 21st Avenue. For my final Portland outing of 2015, I de­cid­ed to explore, on foot, these two roads. Along the way I stopped at a handful of restaurants and pubs for delicious food and drink. I will be sharing those epicurean experiences in my next article. In addition, I bought a number of gourmet groceries during this outing, which I cover in more detail in Gourmet Groceries From Portland’s NW 21st Avenue.

Following my general routine, I left home in Albany at 6:00 AM, parked at the Sunset Transit Center around 7:30, caught a MAX Red Line train to the city center at 7:45, and arrived at the Providence Park MAX Station at 7:56.

From there it was a short 0.4-mile, nine-​minute walk to my first stop of the morn­ing: breakfast at Ken’s Artisan Bakery, at 338 NW 21st Avenue. After months of trying to follow the bread recipes of mas­ter baker Ken Forkish in his cook­book Flour Water Salt Yeast: The Fun­da­men­tals of Artisan Bread and Pizza, I was looking forward to finally visiting his famous bakery. Because it is also a café, I had a scrumptious breakfast there, and also bought some expertly-​crafted bread later in the day.

This part of Portland is an interesting mélange of historic buildings, new con­struc­tion, and middle-aged structures. The early-morning, late-November slanting sunlight created interesting shadows, and gave everything a golden-yellow glow. Because the lengths of NW 21st and 23rd Avenues are both less than one mile, it didn’t take me too long to cover that distance.

Around mid-morning I stopped by the City Market NW at 735 NW 21st Ave­nue. Inside are five separate businesses sharing one large space and a common cashier, without any walls in between. I bought some meat and cheese at two of the vendors, but I for sure did not want to carry around perishable food for the rest of the day. Because I had already pur­chased an all-day pass, I took public transportation back to my truck to place the food in an ice chest I had brought along for that purpose.

By the time I made it back to NW 23rd Avenue, I was definitely ready for some lunch. I had a killer meal at McMen­a­mins Rams Head, which occupies the ground floor on the corner of Hoyt Street in the historic (built 1912) Campbell Hotel building.

After that delightful repast I wandered around the area some more, eventually stopping for a beer at the Lompoc Tav­ern. As I made my way back south towards the city center, I passed by many of the more than 20 structures on 9 city blocks occupied by the Legacy Good Samaritan Medical Center cam­pus, which dominates this corner of Portland.

Before bidding the Northwest District adieu, I had a final beer at Kells Brew Pub at 210 NW 21st Avenue. From there I headed down SW Morrison Street, and a while later arrived at Pioneer Courthouse Square to see the newly-lit 75-foot Christmas tree. Both Morrison Street and the Christmas tree are covered further in A Slice of Portland’s SW Morrison Street.

Although the tree was worth seeing, it was probably more in­ter­est­ing to watch the live stream of the lighting ceremony the evening before, which featured The von Trapp Children and others. After making my way back to my truck on a MAX train, I drove the 75 miles to Albany in the growing dusk. I had left when it was dark, and arrived back home in the dark. All in all it was a great twelve-hour outing to a part of Portland I had never experienced before.

I took 132 pictures that day; the best 43 have been gathered into the new Portland NW 21st & 23rd Ave 2015 album. Grocery, Morrison Street and Christmas tree photos are on dis­play in the Gourmet Chef Wannabe 2015 and Portland Miscellaneous 2015 albums. For more details about my experiences during this outing, see my follow-up article: Portland NW 21st and 23rd Avenues Pub Crawl.

I can see the light at the end of the tunnel — soon I will be completely finished with pictures from, and articles about, 2015. Hurray!
UPDATE: For more adventure in this area of Portland, see my later articles from another outing I made there: A Pictorial ABC of Portland’s NW Alphabet District and McMenamins Portland Alphabet District Pub Crawl.
Brian's Photo Blog — Article 551
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