fbpx

Commercial District in Northeast Portland

Located in Northeast Portland along NE Alberta Street, the Alberta Arts District is within the Vernon, Concordia, and King neighborhoods. Though “Alberta” by name is not technically recognized as a standalone neighborhood, it’s surrounded by a bunch of lovely neighborhoods including Woodlawn, Vernon, Alameda, and Cully.

FROM PORTLAND WITH LOVE

Let's Tour The Neighborhood

Alberta Arts District Real Estate & Walkability Score

Car-Dependent

The charm of Alberta pops immediately when you arrive in the district. The architectural style is reminiscent of older East Portland styles such as cottages, Craftsman-style bungalows, and other mid-sized, one and two-story homes. You’ll feel like you’ve been transported to a new world.


Sorry we are experiencing system issues. Please try again.

ALBERTA ARTS DISTRICT

Date Night: Eat & Drink

Alberta has a ton of tasty and unique places to dine and drink for any time of the day. You’ll be able to enjoy everything from delicious vegan options to incredible cuisines from all over the world.

The Alberta neighborhood has a warm and welcoming community that will provide fun and engaging learning for grades K-12.

TOUR THIS NEIGHBORHOOD

MM slash DD slash YYYY

ALBERTA ARTS DISTRICT

Shopping & Businesses

With a prominent arts culture, Alberta is a beacon in the Portland community for lovers of books, artwork, fashion, and footwear.

Alberta Arts District

Parks & Green Spaces

Despite there being one park within the boundaries of Alberta Arts District, King School Park, there are plenty of wonderful parks you can find in the immediate surrounding the area.

King School Park— Named after Martin Luther King Jr. this 2.64-acre park is located at the elementary school of the same name. Equipped with a track, a playground, paved and unpaved paths, soccer and softball fields, tennis backboard, and a basketball court, this park has a variety of fun options for everyone!

Alberta Park— Looking for a great park for you and your dog? Alberta Park has got you covered! Coming in at 16-acres, it features a basketball court, off-leash dog area, picnic tables, paths, a playground, a tennis court, softball field, and water feature.

Wilshire Park— Are you in need of a park where you can break a sweat and become one with nature? Wilshire Park is the place for you. This 14.3-acre park is filled with sports courts and fields, as well as a stunning nature patch with flowering native plants. A great park to spend some time on your own, or with friends and family!

ALBERTA ARTS DISTRICT

Things to Do and See in Alberta Arts District

From awe-inspiring public artworks to magnificent street fairs, Alberta has an incredible amount of fun and community-based events happening all year!

Alberta Arts District

Nearby Neighborhoods

Alameda

Alameda

Alameda is a beautiful neighborhood with quiet, tree-lined streets and some gorgeous homes, many on larger lots. Homes on Alameda ridge have a stunning view of Portland and the West hills.

Visit Neighborhood
Beaumont-Wilshire

Beaumont-Wilshire

Beaumont-Wilshire is an older neighborhood with a strong sense of community. It has a nice mix of residential and commercial property. The main road through Beaumont-Wilshire neighborhood is NE Fremont Street, and the primary commercial focus is “Beaumont Village”, between NE 33rd and NE 50th.

Visit Neighborhood
Concordia

Concordia

Northeast Portland’s Concordia neighborhood has beautiful, historic homes with plenty of original character. Close to bustling Alberta Street, Concordia has fantastic dining and shopping options. It’s a great choice for those who value living in a walkable neighborhood.

Visit Neighborhood
Woodlawn

Woodlawn

This cozy community in Northeast Portland is home to gorgeous homes and tree-lined streets. It’s close to major highways so it’s easy to access Vancouver and inner Portland. With restaurants, parks, and a seasonal farmers market, Woodlawn is a beautiful neighborhood to call home.

Visit Neighborhood

History of the Alberta Arts District

Early Alberta

While the Alberta District was not officially given its name until around the turn of the 21st century, it has been a hub of innovators, activists, and creatives since day one. Since the first immigrants who came to the area in the 1800s, Alberta has always been a cultural force in Portland.

Named after Princess Alberta, the area was first established in the 1800s. However, it didn’t begin to take off until 1903, when streetcars came in. The impact of the streetcars cannot be overstated enough. After they arrived, many new businesses opened on the street, leading to more people visiting the area, and as a result, there was a ton of success for the stores. The gains in the business sector led to an increase in housing investment in the area as well.

With the neighborhoods in the area on the rise, many of the houses were occupied by Russian and German immigrants, and other families with smaller income levels. Essentially, these new neighborhoods became cities of their own, and flourished during this time.

Alberta Hits Hard Times

Through the 1940s, the Alberta area was thriving. However, it was during this decade that the once vibrant street began to change significantly.  When Interstate Ave. became a major route to Vancouver, it drastically reduced the amount of customers Alberta was receiving. This was because Union Ave. used to be the main route to Vancouver, which lead a lot of folks to check out the stores on Alberta. Adding insult to injury, in 1948 busses replaced the streetcars that were vital to the foot traffic on the street. It was also during this time that large supermarkets and volume stores began to occupy storefronts on the street, leading smaller stores on Alberta to close because they simply could not compete with them.

The Vanport flood of 1948 had a devastating impact on Portland’s African American residents, causing many in the community to be displaced. As a result, a significant amount of African American’s moved to the neighborhoods surrounding Alberta St. It became a place where they could start to build a community again. Unfortunately, this would not last for long as those same residents were displaced again in the 1960s as a result of the construction of Interstate 5. The new freeway not only took away housing opportunities on Alberta, it also shifted car traffic away from the area, which led to less patrons on the street and a drop in investments in the surrounding neighborhoods.

Displacements continued with the construction of Emanuel Hospital and the Memorial Coliseum. Both projects caused the demolition of numerous homes, and over time, the area saw an increase in poverty, which then led to an increase violence, gangs, and vandalism.

This turbulent time created an unfortunate situation where banks refused to give loans for homes in the Alberta area, because they claimed it was of low value due to the demise of the community. With poverty rising and homes vanishing, businesses became vacant and boarded up. Due to the lack of activity and shopping, Alberta saw an increase in crime and the area became known as unsafe. The decline hit a tipping point in 1981 with the closure of the neighborhood Rexall Pharmacy, which was a staple in the area for 66 years.

Alberta’s Comeback

Deciding to act, members of the community stepped up and began an effort to bring Alberta back into the wonderful area they knew it could be. This initiative began with the formation of the Sabin Community Development Corporation (SCDC) and North/Northeast Economic Development Task Force (NNEDTF). The goal of SCDC was to help people find affordable housing, and the NNEDTF was responsible for creating an action plan to bring back businesses and patrons to the street. Their plan was eventually adopted by the City of Portland in 1993.

There were a few more organizations that were also crucial to the restoration of Alberta. The Oregon Association of Minority Entrepreneurs (OAME) and Oregon Convention Center Urban Renewal Area (OCCURA). These organization helped play a key role in ensuring that tax increment funds that came from increasing property values were then used to build up local businesses in Alberta.

The Influence of Roslyn Hill

While these organizations kickstarted the revival of the area, one woman in particular is credited with having the most influence for Alberta’s renewed rise: Roslyn Hill. AKA, “The Queen of Alberta Street.”

A community activist and artist, Hill was influential with her decision to open a new business on Alberta in 1993. Seeing potential in the area and not wanting black business ownership to decrease, she decided to purchase a building on 14th Pl. and Alberta. She turned this building into Roslyn’s Coffee House.

With Hill leading charge, others followed suit. The Rexall Pharmacy building was transformed into a coffee shop with an artists’ space overhead. Various other restaurants and bars opened as well, to go along with a new gallery opening in 1997. In the three years after Hill bought the building on 14th Pl the number of businesses nearly doubled on Alberta Street.

Hill’s distinct vision and dedication supercharged Alberta’s come back. She continued her efforts by buying and renovating other buildings, which led to more and more people coming back to the street and spending money.

Alberta Turns to Art

With Alberta’s revitalization well under way thanks to Hill’s and others investment in the area, other elements of the street were upgraded as well. Art became a major foundation of the street beginning in the late 90s thanks to the Streetscape Project. This group was made up of concerned community members, who wanted to ensure public art and murals played a major role on the street.

Art did indeed begin to takeoff on the street, with many businesses happily displaying work by local artists. Wanting to take it a step further, community members decided to start a monthly event like First Thursday, which was a monthly art walk hosted on the west side of town where businesses would stay open and display art during the evening.

This is where Last Thursday was born. It takes the same concept from First Thursday, but instead would be hosted at the end of the month. The event initially proved to show interest from people and would eventually expand to include street vendors and musicians. These additions as well as positive word-of-mouth helped the event continue to grow, leading the way for new businesses, studios, and art galleries to open on the street.

Soon enough, Alberta had a new nickname: “The Arts District.” To this day, the area is known for being a vibrant, and welcoming place where people connect with each other and enjoy all the wonderful elements the street has to offer.

Sources:

Alberta Main Street. “The History of Alberta Street.” Accessed September 27, 2022.

Wikipedia. Alberta Arts District. Accessed September 27, 2022

Wikipedia. Roslyn Hill. Accessed September 27, 2022.