Alberta Street in NE Portland (King, Vernon neighborhoods) is one of those Portland streets that has been transformed in the last ten years from a sort of grungy artist's enclave to a vibrant street full of popular cafes, bars, clothing stores, salons, and galleries, now known as the Alberta Arts district. Once a month on the last Thursday evening of the month, the galleries stay open late ("Last Thursday") and the cafes and bars are mobbed - a kind of street fair. This is Alberta's more laid-back (and more fun) answer to the Pearl District's "First Thursday" art crawl.
Two of Alberta's older anchor community businesses are the Community Cycling Center and the Alberta Cooperative Grocery, so the area has a definite socialist, community-involved attitude. Walk down the street and you'll see murals all over the place, given Alberta a colorful feel.
The King and Vernon neighborhoods are two of Portland's old black neighborhoods (back in segregation days, this was pseudo-legally enforced) and you still get that feel around blocks Alberta Street, but the area is definitely more mixed now - gentrification of sorts is in evidence throughout NE Portland. In an area that was once considered pretty ghetto, housing prices have shot up a lot in the last decade.
The Street itself - from about 7th to about 30th - has a kind of split personality. Some blocks are popular shops, cafes and galleries; the next block will be an old blue-collar sort of business - a glass company, an old laundromat, etc., reminders of the past. But you can see a lot of investment has gone into the newer areas. There are also a couple of churches on the street and an old American Legion hall; the very prominent St. Andrew Catholic Church at the west end of the street stands out.
If you were to compare Alberta to, say, Hawthrone, you'd notice for one that the businesses on Alberta are all independent (I assume local) businesses. There are no chain stores - no Starbucks, no Subway, no Safeway grocery store, etc. Hawthorne has plenty of independent businesses too just not as many as Alberta, so Hawthorne feels a little more generic and commercialized in parts.
The east end of Alberta Street abuts the also-popular Concordia neighborhood, and some of the interesting stuff continues up there. There are few movie theatres in NE Portland, but one of the few is the popular McMenamins Kennedy School complex (bars and restaurants plus a second-run movie theatre, where you can buy beer and wine!), near NE 33rd and Killingsworth, near Alberta. If you want an alternative to the Co-op grocery there's also a New Seasons grocery store at NE33rd/Killingsworth.
Alberta Street isn't anywhere near MAX light rail, but it has good bus service. The #8 and #9 buses intersect the street to get you downtown and the #72 bus goes up and down most of the street. But bikes are popular as well.
Alberta Street St. Andrew Catholic Church
Skateboarding Down Alberta Street
Shops on Alberta Street
Converted Rexall Drugs
Older Businesses on Alberta Street
Cultural Totem and Mural
Alberta Cooperative Grocery
Bella Faccia Pizzeria
Shops on Alberta
Alberta Street Community Cycling Center
Thai Noon Resturant
Pictures are all copyrighted by Andrew Hall and may not be used or copied without permission.