Beaumont-Wilshire (and environs)

I live near the corner of NE 37th and Going (blue house), in the Beaumont-Wilshire neighborhood. I've been here for about 12 years, though I grew up a couple miles away in the Alameda neighborhood.

About a block to the east is an unassuming cottage that was the home of Elmer Buehler, Woody Guthrie's driver while Woody wrote songs for the Bonneville Power Administration (such as Roll On, Columbia, Roll On). Elmer died a year or so after I moved into the neighborhood at the age of 99. I never met him, unfortunately.

Elmer Buehler's house

NE 42nd and Prescott, October 1956, during a campaign stop by President Eisenhower, who was running for reelection against Adlai Stevenson (spoiler alert: Eisenhower won).

Eisenhower at NE 42nd and Prescott, 1956 (photographer unknown).

Same view today. Note the building on the corner at right is the same one from the 1956 photo.

NE 42nd and Prescott Street

Behind it is a beautiful double mural of Prince and David Bowie by Ashley Montague (IG: @SKNNYMRCLS).

Prince and David Bowie by Ashley Montague
David Bowie by Ashley Montague

Turning north up 42nd, I stop in at Caribbean Spice, a small grocery carrying ingredients from across the African diaspora. Catherine, the owner's daughter, works the register while studying (she's a first-year med student at OHSU).

Catherine at Caribbean Spice

Continuing up the street, colorful cloth in the window of Bolt Neighborhood Fabric Boutique catches my eye.

Fabric at Bolt

Nearby is Cat Six Cycles, my preferred bike shop. Right before the pandemic hit, they had completed repairs after a driver crashed through their storefront. But they've hung in there and managed to keep things going despite it all.

Cat Six Cycles

Across the street from Cat Six, in a converted bowling alley, is the Spare Room Restaurant & Lounge, one of my favorite neighborhood hangouts. Welcoming to all, with cheap drinks and decent food, and a healthy blend of live music and karaoke (pre-Covid). I always get a good feeling in here.

Bagged-off barstools at the Spare Room

At the bus stop at 42nd and Alberta, a marker memorializes the location where Eddie "The Weatherman" Morgan was murdered in 1994. The case remains unsolved.

Eddie Morgan memorial

Kitty-corner from the bus stop is Taqueria Los Pepitos Locos, always a great meal, and too-often slept on by diners attracted to the neighborhood's more fashionable spots.

Taqueria Los Pepitos Locos
Taqueria Los Pepitos Locos

Across the street is Pizza Jerk, a Tommy Habetz (of Bunk fame) project. Great pizza, and they recovered from a nasty fire in 2016 (caused by a faulty electrical box).

Pizza Jerk serving window. Note the piles of to-go boxes in the background.

The building Pizza Jerk occupies is the former home of Magoo's Bar and Grill, the closure of which was controversial in the neighborhood.

Pizza Jerk, formerly Magoo's Bar and Grill

Across the way is Oakshire Beer Hall, which also houses Biba! CHamoru Kitchen, serving Guamanian cuisine. This used to be Old Salt Marketplace. Before that, it was a remodeling showroom.

Oakshire and Biba! CHamoru Kitchen

Further up the road, I meet Alkebulan "Al" Moroski and his mother, Kim Moroski, making coleslaw inside Dash, a tiny rentable prep kitchen housed in a cramped cinder block building. The Moroskis, recent transplants from Mississippi, own Dirty Lettuce in the Shady Pines vegan food cart pod a block away.

Alkebulan Moroski and his mother, Kim Moroski, making vegan coleslaw
Shady Pines vegan cart pod, home to Dirty Lettuce (among others)

Next door to Shady Pines, the decidedly non-vegan 42nd Ave Fish and Chips serves a broad array of southern delicacies. Despite having already eaten dinner, I can't resist.

Busy in the 42nd Ave Fish and Chips kitchen
Aaron Peterson, owner of 42nd Ave Fish and Chips

The next day brings rain, and nothing starts a grey Sunday off like coffee and pastry from Miss Zumstein Bakery.

Anja Spence, owner of Miss Zumstein
Apple scone. Gone too soon.
John Vance's Jackie Robinson mural celebrates Robinson and the avenue that shares his jersey number

Crossing 42nd to walk deeper into the Cully neighborhood, the shift in vibe is immediate. The neighborhood wasn't completely annexed by the city until 1985, and it retains a more rural, relaxed feel than Beaumont-Wilshire. Some streets remain unpaved. Sidewalks are scarce, lots are larger, and the properties reflect a broad array of lifestyles, from miniature farms to whimsical artist collectives to manufacturing spaces.

Alameda Metalworks
Tow-away zone
Cully chic
Breakfast fire

Cully resident Isaac Miller explains what he loves about living here: "It's the only place in Portland where I can leave a wood pile like this in my front yard and no one will say a thing," he says, watching his chickens.

Cully resident Isaac Miller

But it's not all chicken coops and hobby farms in Cully. A little over a week ago, two young Portlanders were shot and killed in nearby Khunamokwst Park. Twin memorials line the sidewalk in their honor.

Memorials at Khunamokwst Park
Goalposts at Rigler Elementary School. I had my first soccer practice here, circa 1985.

A number of eco-centric communities have popped up in Cully, such as Going Street Commons. I'm not certain, but I would imagine this is having an impact on the neighborhood's affordability.

Going Street Commons

The sun returns the next day, and with it a morning frost on the grass and house roofs. I head north to Fernhill Park to catch the sunrise. Fernhill is the former site of Adams High School (later Whitaker Middle School, later demolished due to mold and radon). The school is gone, but the track and sports fields remain, along with a semi-wooded area that feels almost like an urban forest. Check out local historian Doug Decker's amazing work on Fernhill Park history.

Morning jog, Fernhill Park
Stump chair, Fernhill Park
Playground, Fernhill Park
Urban trail, Fernhill Park

I have to put in a shout-out to the gorgeous murals on the public restroom in Fernhill Park. They were painted a few years ago by Beaumont Middle School students, led by a woman I went to high school with, art teacher Lindsay King. Each mural draws on symbols from the students' heritage, and I think they're amazing.

Best-looking public restrooms in Portland

As a fan of mid-century modern architecture, I love the houses around the park.

Frozen in time

I end my walk by circling through Beaumont Village before heading home. Like much of the city, Beaumont has seen a lot of development in recent years, but some of the older features are still visible if you know where to look.

Like a good neighbor

At the always-friendly Beaumont Hardware, the staff is pretty jazzed when they learn I'm shooting for Willamette Week. They especially enjoyed last week's pet issue.

Avid readers, Beaumont Hardware
Box cutter aisle, Beaumont Hardware

I attended Beaumont Middle School in the early 1990s; walking its grounds always brings back memories.

Beaumont Middle School
Former auditorium, Beaumont Middle School
Flagpole, Beaumont Middle School

Finally it's time to go home. Walking up 37th Avenue from Fremont, I'm amazed at how many little details I miss when I'm not looking for them, despite passing them day after day, usually in a car and in a rush to be somewhere else.

Yard art, NE 37th Avenue
Hydrant, NE Going Street
Going Street Neighborhood Greenway

On the curb I spot one of the tie-up rings still to be found on older streets in Northeast Portland, a relic of days when deliveries were made by horse-drawn carts and wagons. A little iron circle, rusted and weather-beaten, resting on a patch of moss. A comforting artifact of stability in a tumultuous time.

Horse ring, NE Going Street
Created By
Brian Burk