The Hawthorne Street fair is this Sunday. There will be music, fun movies at the Bagdad theatre, incredible people watching, and of course awesome sales at retail shops along the boulevard.
A street fair is the celebration of a neighborhood. The essence and vibration of that neighborhood is something that is shared, not only with those who live and work in the neighborhood, but with those who are visiting for perhaps the first time or maybe the 100th time. Whatever your experience on Hawthorne, we want to take you back in time for a short journey, long before the Hawthorne Street fair, long before Hawthorne was called Hawthorne.
Imagine the early 1800′s. The west side of Portland is a small city crowded with new people who have moved from the east. The east side is a small agricultural town called East Portland. A town isolated from the newer city. U street, which extends up to 39th, is a small dirt road with berries, orchards, and dairy farms. Produce is sent on horse drawn carriages to the water front and than ferried across the Willamette on the Stark Street Ferry, owned by James B. Stephens, who bought U Street from a John McLoughlin of the Hudson Bay Trading company.
(City of Portland Archive, Oregon A2004-002-6814).
1884 Morrison at 6th street.
In 1858, a Doctor by the name of J.C. Hawthorne moved to East Portland. He was known to be kind and compassionate to his patients who suffered from mental illness. He was thought of as a pioneer in the field of psychology. James B. Stephens supported Hawthorne’s cause, and was inspired by the help Dr. Hawthorne was offering to people in need of care. Stephens donated a plat of land to J.C. Hawthorne to build a hospital.
(City of Portland Archives. Oregon, A2004-002-1572)
1888 First and Main street
On the corner of SE Taylor between 9th and 12th where now the food carts stand, and Tiny’s coffee house serves locally brewed coffee and bagel sandwiches, once was the location of the Oregon Hospital for the Insane. The hospital was built and completed in 1862. The hospital on U street which was later named Asylum street was known to have beautiful gardens for the patients to relax, much recreation like tennis, and it employed many of the inhabitants of East Portland.
Even with the presence of the hospital, and jobs East Portland was still a small agricultural town. The development of the railroad system brought commerce, and the ferries took food across the river and picked up needed supplies for the people who worked and lived on the East side. Many farmers grew very wealthy with the lack of competition and the ferry owners prospered. East Portland became an ideal location for people to move. Located between 26th and 32nd avenue were once the Chinese gardens, try to picture rows and rows of fresh vegetables, and a thriving new community. But, something else needed to happen in order for East Portland to grow.
(City of Portland Archives, Oregon, A2004-002.1)
Madison Bridge (later Hawthorne bridge) construction crew.
East Portland was isolated by the river. The railroads help to expand the town of East Portland, but farmers and consumers paid huge fees to have their food and supplies ferried back and forth across the Williamette. It was a farmer William Beck who suggested a bridge that would connect the East to the West. J.C. Hawthorne supported Beck’s idea, and with the help of other Portland elite, and to the opposition of the ferry owners, the Morrison bridge was completed in 1880
(City of Portland Archives, Oregon, A2004-002.2506)
Looking east on SW Salmon to SE Portland with Hawthorne Bridge.
It was the help of the Portland elite that developed Hawthorne and the town of East Portland. During the late 1800′s much of the country was in an economic downturn, but many of Portland’s business elite had done well by innovative investments, and in farming and lumber. They knew that Portland had the potential to be a thriving city and in particular East Portland was attractive as an area with land that could be used for affordable housing and commerce.
Many of the bridges that we use today, our water supplies and much more were funded by the Portland business elite. Their efforts helped to pull Portland out of an economic depression and turn it into a boom-town by 1887.
(City of Portland Archive, Oregon A2004-002.1040)
The largest boost to the development of the Hawthorne Area was not the bridges or the money of the Portland elite, but something else. In 1883 the Oregon Hospital for the insane closed its doors and moved to Salem. In its place a tree lined park was built. Due to the hospital closing many jobs were lost so there needed to be a new source of employment, and the people who lived on Asylum street did not like the name Asylum street especially without the hospital. Two major things took place. In 1888 Asylum street was renamed Hawthorne Avenue and the street car was created.
In 1888 the Mount Tabor Street Railway company ran a steam powered street car between what we know today as Se 5th and SE 54th. (Steam powered!) At this time Hawthorne was still a small country road with dairy farms and orchards, and horse carriages, but the introduction of the street car changed everything.
(City of Portland Archives, Oregon, A2000-250.1148)
SE Hawthorne and 50th.
It was the birth of the street car that connected East Portland to the city of Portland. Hawthorne was expanded and the street car diverged at 5oth where people could take the car all the way out to Lents. It created a direct route from Mount Tabor to downtown Portland. This transportation and access brought more people to East Portland and soon, specialty shops, beauty parlors, and butcher shops started developing. This new commercial activity grew between 34th and 39th avenue, and between 46th and 50th avenue.
(City of Portland Archives, Oregon, A200-025.285)
SE Hawthorne Ave and 1st and 3rd.
A new type of architecture grew of this development. Realtors and street car line builders would get together to discuss a new route. A Street Car Era brought buildings that were constructed from wood, brick, and stucco with some small detailing. The buildings were two to three stories with commercial property on the first floor and residences on the top floors. The windows were large and built close to the ground and the buildings defined the edge of the street. They were built to attract pedestrian traffic. Today you can see much of this Street Car Era architecture in the buildings between 34th and 39th, and 46th and 50th.
(City of Portland Archives, A2005-001-1168)
1939 SE Hawthorne Blvd east of 49th avenue.
By 1891 Hawthorne and all of East Portland officially became a part of the city of Portland. West Portland had become overcrowded and the demand for space and affordable housing grew, and with the access of the street car more and more people began moving to the south east. By 1912 Portland was ranked 13th in the country for new construction. The city was booming, and so was the neighborhood.
(City of Portland Archives,Oregon, A2005-001-290)
1938 SE Hawthorne between Grand and Union (MLK).
Transportation can bring change, and the development of Hawthorne was no different from hundreds of cities in America. Cars brought wider paved roads, and people and new types of businesses. The Bagdad theater was built in 1927 and Safeway and Fred Myer which were small local groceries competed with other groceries, butcher shops, and bakeries. The first Fred Myer was built in 1936 on the corner of 36th and Hawthorne, but it was the depression and jobs and money were scares. Documents from Fred Myers mentioned “hard times and slow business”.
(City of Portland Archives, Oregon, A2005-001-283)
1938 SE Hawthorne between Union (MLK) and Grand.
The end of prohibition (1933) brought bars and taverns on Hawthorne especially between 34th and 37th avenue. Six new bars popped up in one year. The bars catered to local working class people during and right after WWII. It was WWII that pulled much of the country out of the depression and Portland especially. Portland won a war contract for building warships. These new shipyards brought people from across the country desperate for work and new opportunities, they moved to Portland by the hundreds. Portland and Hawthorne saw another population boom.
(City of Portland Archives, Oregon, A2005-001.978)
SE 39th Avenue looking south toward Hawthorne Blvd.
By 1951 Fred Myer moved to 39th and Hawthorne the same place that we see it today. There have been many changes, new housing developments, schools, and pockets of family residencies, but Hawthorne in particular between 34th and 39th has always been a commercial street. Built in the mid and late 1800′s it was created for commerce.
If you come down this Sunday to peruse the local shops, eat ice cream, and take in a movie, be sure to look up at the Street Car Era architecture. You’ll notice the retail shops with wide windows that are low to the ground and apartments above, most likely occupied by young people who will be hanging out their small windows watching you walk by on the street below.
We love this last picture taken in 1971. It is the corner of 37th and Hawthorne. The building in front of the sidewalk construction is now Oasis Pizza, across the street is Starbucks and right next to that in what was once a carpet store is our little shop Presents of Mind. At the time that this picture was taken Seasons Koll, the owner, hadn’t been born, and her young mother was still looking for a store that had good cards. Almost ten years later she would get the inspiration to open our gift store.
(City of Portland Archives City, Oregon, SE Hawthorne and 37th. A2012-005, 1971)
1971 Hawthorne and 37th.
Please join us and all of the other wonderful shops and restaurants on Hawthorne as we celebrate our neighborhood, with good food, fun and music. If you come by our store we will have two local vendors outside selling their handcrafted items, and we will have sale items for 40% off till 3:00 p.m. Then from 3:00 to 7:00 p.m all of our sale items are 70% off. Inside we will have summer and spring dresses on sale for 25% off. We will also have a couple local designers showing their work in front of our store: Alea Bone - https://www.facebook.com/BoneWerx and her friend from Glitter Crow -https://www.facebook.com/GlitterCrow
The Street fair is from 11:00 to 7:00. Follow this link for more details as to what is happening on the street.
We want to give a special thanks to The City of Portland’s Auditor’s Office for allowing us to use their photos as we took a brief stroll through Hawthorne’s history. Also if you are interested in learning more about Hawthorne and Portland’s history you can go to the City of Portland, or the Oregon Historical Society for information. Much of the information here was found at Historic Hawthorne prepared by the City of Portland’s Hawthorne transportation project found at Think Hawthorne. For some great photos and tid-bits on the history of Portland folow this link to Vintage Portland. Really you should follow the link.
Happy Hawthorne Street Fair!