Photographer’s Corner: Portland History & Holiday Cheer

Fire Station # 17 – 2018
Fire Station # 17 – 1915

For a history buff, there is nothing more exciting than finding a picture of a building taken in its heyday and then comparing it with how the building looks today, especially if it has been lovingly restored. A local resident in Portland’s Nob Hill / Alphabet District (824 N.W. 24th Ave.) for nearly two years has been renovating Old Firehouse # 17 (hence the green fence) as a personal residence.

The outside is as fresh looking today as it must have been when it opened in 1912. We particularly like the owner’s sense of humor, displaying a large inflatable dragon in Christmas colors. At Halloween, it was a large black spider.

Sassy Portland: She’s Everywhere … and She Makes No Apologies

As we expand this website, it occurred to me that visitors often want to know “where do the locals go” in search of a more authentic experience.

What got me thinking about this was my plan to visit a local neighborhood restaurant for breakfast: Stepping Stone Cafe, 2390 NW Quimby St., an easy walk (1.5 miles), or 15-minute streetcar (NS Line) or bus ride (#15 or #77)  from Downtown.

Why do locals like it? The food is good, the service fast, and you will never leave hungry.

Just maybe another reason Stepping Stone is so popular: it’s sassy. What does that mean?

The cafe motto is: YOU EAT HERE BECAUSE WE LET  YOU.

They don’t even add an exclamation point, just capitalize it and add a period. No hype. No argument.

Even the food is sassy: where can you find a “man cake,” a massive pancake the size of a dinner plate? That alone is sassy,  or if you prefer one of the synonyms: fresh, impertinent, impudent, overbold, precocious, saucy, bold.

People in Portland are all those things, but sassy sums up some of the unique Portland personality.

Here’s to Sassy Portland – right up there with Keep Portland Weird!

Blazing Murals in the Alphabet District

‘Soul,’ a mural by Paola Delfin is on NW Lovejoy and 25th.
Adam Brock Ciresi surveys and touches up his mural.
Allison Mc Clay adds finishing touches.

Portland has a rich culture of giant urban murals — paintings that fill the sides of buildings; some 15-20 stories high or more. Local masters and famous muralists from around the world have come to grace our buildings with their stunning, original art. Murals seem to go up so far, you rarely see the artist at work. Seeing two muralists in action recently was a real treat.

How they can paint multi-story masterpieces is amazing all by itself. You know there is no ladder that tall. Sure, you could imagine them hanging off the side of a building like a window washer, but know that isn’t very practical.

 One muralist I spotted was actually using a small mechanical lift and a painter’s roller on a long handle to create the first broad strokes. The next time I saw Adam Brock Ciresi, about two weeks later, he was wandering around with a bucket and paintbrush touching up his latest work on a new building next to the Chevron Gas Station at the corner of 21st Avenue and Lovejoy Street. His final piece is a bold, beautiful addition to the neighborhood.

About 12 blocks from Ciresi’s work, on Thurman Street near the corner of 23rd Avenue on the north wall of Willamette Wine Storage, I spotted Artist Allison McClay putting the final touches on the faces of people portrayed in her expansive mural.

To learn more about this Portland walk, click here.