Cathedral Park Neighborhood in Portland, Oregon
Cathedral Park neighborhood is a quaint, charming neighborhood that is heavily residential and industrial. And to tie it all together, a beautiful cathedral-like park smack dab in the middle. The image of a cathedral brings to mind tall spires, flying buttresses, medieval architecture, high arcs and large pillars. Cathedral Park itself brings to life these images, as St. Johns Bridge towers overhead as a picturesque piece of architecture. As an older area of Portland, the neighborhood features beautiful homes that are old with some beautiful yards, thanks to the neighborhood’s avid gardeners.
Where is it?
Cathedral Park neighborhood is located in north Portland between St. Johns to the north and University Park Neighborhood to the east. It runs along the east side of the Willamette River. Though there aren’t many businesses technically in the Cathedral Park neighborhood, the main strip of coffee shops, restaurants, pubs and theaters in St. Johns is a short distance from the homes in Cathedral Park. The neighborhood is almost an addition to St. Johns because they are so similar in style and laid-back mentality. And the Cathedral Park neighborhood was at one time a part of St. Johns until Portland made Cathedral Park its own separate neighborhood in 1915. So while locals have their homes and their park, and the factories to add an industrial vibe, they also have St. Johns which has several more parks, a library, and “downtown” St. Johns which is a little more lively and spirited.
Cathedral Park Features
The residential roads, aligned with houses of older architecture, are quiet and wide with sidewalks and sections of overgrowth from the gardens. There are white picket fences ever so often and porches with tables, chairs and couches that memories of long nights rest upon. There is not a lot of activity happening within the neighborhood, except for bikers taking a stroll along the main roads of Willamette and Lombard, runners going through the alleys that connect neighborhood streets, and home owners working in their gardens. Locals shop at the Safeway in the neighborhood for groceries, or Fred Meyer which is on the neighborhood’s east border. The inhabitants of the neighborhood seem content with what they’ve got in this north Portland area, though they are only a short drive from downtown and other areas of Portland. Their neighborhood is peaceful, and there aren’t many disturbances, which is convenient and much appreciated. Locals don’t have to worry about many visitors (except during the annual Cathedral Park Jazz Festival), and the small town feel is preserved when people see each other at the park with their dogs, calling one another by name, and say hello to the mail man on foot.
Setting and backdrop
The great scenery is one of the best aspects of the neighborhood, say locals. The people of Cathedral Park love that they live in old Portland homes with a backdrop of the St. Johns Bridge that disappears into Forest Park on the west side of the Willamette River. It’s as if the large forest swallows the bridge, because it suddenly disappears in the large, tall trees of Forest Park. In plays the backdrop sets the scene. Cathedral Park has an amazing backdrop, that sets the scene as one being remarkable and almost dream-like.
The schools near Cathedral Park are James John Elementary, George Middle and Roosevelt High School. The schools are located in nearby neighborhoods.
Cathedral Park… The actual park
I met a woman named Christie who was throwing a ball for her dog in the off-leash section in Cathedral Park. Christie lives in another section of north Portland, but loves Cathedral Park and wants to move here eventually. She said that most of the people she has met that live in the St. Johns and Cathedral Park areas either grew up in the neighborhood and are still there, or grew up there then left and came back. People cannot get enough of the neighborhood, “because it has roots and history.” Christie loves the small town feel to Cathedral Park neighborhood, where people know each other. Even she knows people because she brings her dog to the park so often. Christie loves the feel of the mix of factories and homes. If you could have heard her voice, believe me it was filled with passion. So there you have it, Cathedral Park is a little more than it’s cracked up to be. And people enjoy it.
Sitting on one of the benches that are scattered around the park, I observed the little activity happening in the area. There was a group of bikers who stopped for a break along the waterfront and small beach, an elderly couple walking along the paths, a couple dog owners with their pets throwing balls, and the only sounds came from the tall St. Johns Bridge overhead. It was a nice place to sit and observe the locals in their natural habitat.
Homes and Real Estate
The neighborhood features homes of old Portland, low slung craftsman bungalow and cape cod architecture as well as newer homes, apartments and condominiums.
Cafe Under the Bridge
There is a cafe right next to Cathedral Park and the St. Johns Bridge that serves locals and the many employees that work at companies in the neighborhood. Sheryl and her husband bought the cafe two and a half years ago and have been running it ever since, under the big bridge and known by only a few. The cafe’s trinkets, outdoor seating, coffee and food options are all perfect for taking to go and sitting in Cathedral Park or for dining in and using the cafe’s free wifi. Sheryl says some of the customers come in two or three times a day to get their caffeine fix, so she gets to know them very well.
Overall Cathedral Park is a beautiful neighborhood with a friendly, local vibe and a peace that isn’t found in places like downtown or some of the quirky SE Portland neighborhoods.