Piedmont Neighborhood in Portland, Oregon
Like most north Portland neighborhoods, there is an overarching sense of solitude and happiness in the north Portland neighborhood of Piedmont. From the rose garden at Peninsula Park to the relaxed college students at the cross walks near Portland Community College, Piedmont is a neighborhood that is unpretentious with its own personality that is communicated through the neighborhood’s history, architecture and people. I spoke to Mel who works at AJ Java Espresso, right across the street from Peninsula Park, and what she likes most about the neighborhood is the friendly people. It seemed to be an ongoing theme during the conversation that the people were what made the neighborhood a great place to live in. “People are more inclined to talk to you here than in other areas of Portland,” Mel said. She has the same local regulars coming into the shop on a daily basis, and she knows her customers by name.
Piedmont History, Homes & Real Estate
Once known as “The Emerald, Portland’s Evergreen Suburb, Devoted Exclusively to Dwellings” and “A Place of Homes,” Piedmont is no longer considered a suburb because of all the urban activity happening in and near it. Though the neighborhood is primarily and heavily residential, it is not possible to put this neighborhood in a box of any sort which is what comes to mind when I think suburb or lots of homes in one area. The original subdivision of Piedmont was platted in 1889 by Edward Quackenbush, and is now known as Historic Piedmont. There is a particular subdivision in the neighborhood known as the Gainsborough Subdivision which is bound between Rosa Parks Way, Albina, Ainsworth and Minnesota, which is filled with homes built in the late 1920s and the 1930s. All the styles surround English Cottage and Norman Farmhouse types of architecture, mostly one and two stories homes with beautiful detailing.
The Piedmont neighborhood is located in north Portland with Columbia Boulevard as its northern boundary, Ainsworth to the south, MLK Boulevard to the east and I-5 to the west. There are parts of Historic Piedmont that overflow into the Humboldt and King Neighborhoods. Other nearby neighborhoods and popular areas include Historic Mississippi Avenue, N Alberta Street, Boise and Alameda Neighborhoods. Locals have easy access to these other neighborhoods on foot, by bike or by bus.
Parks & Recreation
Farragut City Park is located on the northern side of the neighborhood, providing a large space for softball games to take place, possibly ultimate frisbee for the college students, walk & bike paths and play structures for the little ones. There’s something for everyone in this neighborhood, even in the parks.
Peninsula Park, Peninsula Rose Garden and Peninsula Community Center are in the middle of the neighborhood, and provide a place for locals to stay active and enjoy the wonderful aroma of a plethora of roses, paired with the soothing background noise of the fountain in the center of the garden. When I was at the park it was filled with kids that were hanging on the jungle gym, running out of the community center to greet their mothers and playing a game of tag through the nicely trimmed hedges in the rose garden. The very symmetrical rose garden is beautiful and even comparable to the International Rose Test Garden in SW Portland. Locals are lucky to have the garden in the middle of their neighborhood, especially because it’s not very well known and they can keep it to themselves.
Students in the neighborhood attend Woodlawn Elementary, Holy Redeemer Catholic School, Ockley Green Middle and Jefferson High School. Colleges in the surrounding neighborhoods include Portland Community College, Concordia University and further west is the University of Portland.
Walking through Piedmont Neighborhood
Taking a stroll through the neighborhood I observed the activity happening in the residential neighborhood, with its at times trendy college students on bikes, fathers on bikes with their children, mothers on porch swings rocking their babies back and forth, home owners working hard in their front gardens, cats observing every move of the crows, etc. So while there is a lot happening, it’s all very peaceful activity that works together to create the fabric of the Piedmont neighborhood. I appreciate that no one is trying to impress in this neighborhood; everyone is just enjoying life.
Quirks of Piedmont
The bandstand that overlooks the rose garden was built in 1913 and was declared a national heritage historical structure in 1973, being the “last of its kind” in Portland says the Piedmont NA Association.
The Villa St. Rose Convent, located at 597 N Dekum Street, is on the National Register of Historic Places as it was once a girls school and convent, but the building and 7.7 acres of the site were purchased by the Portland Development Commission in 1998. The ex convent has since gone under a $22 million renovation and has been turned into 100 unit, low income senior rental housing facility that is now known as Rosemont Commons. The beautiful Georgian style building gives the neighborhood another unique aspect in architecture and historical density.
To make a long description short…
Piedmont is full of eclectic people that come from “all walks of life,” says Alex who works at Coffeehouse-Five, a play on Kurt Vonnegut’s famous work of fiction. Alex shared about the neighborhood, the locals and living in Piedmont in a short video interview. From talking to the locals and experiencing first hand what local life is like, I have come to the understanding that Piedmont is a place for people to grow up, grow old and live everywhere in between. It’s a place for everyone, whether family, elderly couple or college student. There is something for everyone from the coffee shops of nearby neighborhoods, the beautiful rose garden, the community center with the swimming pool and more. There is not one type of personality of age group, and that is what makes this neighborhood unique.