North Portland’s Vancouver, Albina and Mississippi Avenues
Tuesday 28 June 2016 — Category: Outings
An interesting way to discover different parts of Portland is to traverse the length of one of its historic major thoroughfares. I have done this a number of times already since last September, on Burnside Street, Broadway, and Northwest 21st & 23rd Avenues.
On the last day of March 2016, I headed to the Big City to explore another section which I had not been to before. My goal was to walk nearly seven miles in North Portland on Vancouver, Albina and Mississippi Avenues.
Following one of my typical routines, I got up around 5:00 and left home in Albany at 5:50, traveled north on the I-5, had my favorite McDonald’s breakfast near the Clackamas Town Center Transit Center, caught a MAX Green Line train at 7:47, and arrived at the Rose Quarter Transit Center MAX Station at 8:24, eager to start walking.
North Vancouver Avenue does not extend south all the way to the MAX station, so I had to walk northwest a third of a mile on NE Wheeler Avenue, past the eastern side of the Moda Center, to arrive at the southern end of Vancouver Avenue near Weidler Street.
From there I continued another 3.2 miles north on Vancouver Avenue. For about the first mile the buildings were a hodgepodge of older, and even historic, houses and commercial buildings, along with more modern, and even brand-new, construction. However, from around Beech Street on, the blocks contained mostly older houses, some dating back to the 1890s, but with some modern buildings along the section between Alberta and Killingsworth Streets.
It was when I was a few blocks further north, amidst houses from the 1920s, that the truth hit me: a residential section of the city is a bad place to look for restroom facilities. So I had to make a 0.7-mile round-trip detour east on Ainsworth Street to the Starbucks on NE Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard for some much-needed refreshment.
With that business taken care of, I continued north until I reached Farragut Park, at the North Vancouver Avenue overpass between Farragut Street and Columbia Boulevard over a set of railroad tracks. From the overpass I had a beautiful view of two of the most impressive mountains in Washington state: the 8,365-foot (formerly 9,677-foot) Mount St. Helens about 49 miles away is, and the 14,411-foot Mt. Rainier, the highest mountain in Washington state and in the Cascades, about 98 miles away.
After walking west the two-block length of Farragut Park, plus one block more, I started my return journey by heading south on North Albina Avenue. Passing through a number of residential blocks, I soon arrived at the historic (founded 1909) 16-acre Peninsula Park, which includes the Peninsula Park Community Center (built 1913), and Peninsula Park Rose Garden (founded 1912).
By this time it was around 11:00, and I still had a ways to go in order to leave the residential areas behind and find some food and drink for lunch. So despite my desire to stay and enjoy this beautiful park for a while, I pressed on. I could already hear the siren song of a cold beer calling my name!
Three-quarters of a mile south of the Rose Garden, the principle thoroughfare of North Albina Avenue curves west one block, and from there on North Mississippi Avenue takes over as the main street. Walking one more block south brought me to Skidmore Street, which marks the northern end of the Historic Mississippi District. And there on the corner was a sight for dry throats: Prost! German pub.
After a refreshing German beer and a visit to the restroom, I was ready to discover the attractions along the half-mile Mississippi District, between Skidmore and Fremont Streets. This is a pretty happening corner of Portland, similar to NW 23rd Avenue, but with a different, more earthy vibe. Before I reached Fremont Street I came upon StormBreaker Brewing, where I stopped to have a glass of their Mississippi Red Ale, in honor of the street I was exploring.
Leaving the Historic Mississippi District behind, I continued south on North Mississippi Avenue until I came to the Widmer Brothers Brewery and Brewpub complex on North Russell Street just after 1:00 PM. There I had an excellent chicken schnitzel meal, with one of their beers to wash it down.
I will be sharing more about the epicurean aspects of this outing in my next article, Portland North Mississippi Avenue Mini Pub Crawl — including the embarrassing episode of falling and twisting my ankle as I was making my way to the restroom at the Widmer Brewpub.
Fortunately I was not far from the Albina / Mississippi MAX Station, where I brought my 5½-hour outing to a close by catching a MAX Yellow Line train at 2:08. After transferring to a MAX Green Line train I arrived back at my truck around 3:00.
All told, I walked a total of 7½ miles up Vancouver Avenue (with the detour to Starbucks), and back down Albina and Mississippi Avenues. During that time I took 249 photos — the best 95 are now on display in the Portland Vancouver/Mississippi 2016 album.
There is a lot more I could say about what I saw and experienced in this small section of Portland, but it is really the pictures which tell the story. As usual, I did a lot of research in order to write accurate and detailed captions for each photo.
It was a great outing, even if my injured ankle laid me up for a while. I hope you have as good a time taking a virtual tour of these streets through my pictures as I did when I walked them and took the photos.