Sunnyside Neighborhood in Portland, Oregon
People love each other here. Genuine people that know each other by name embrace one another when rekindled after meetings that are long overdue. Baristas work together in a syncopated rhythm, matching the beats of the music to the work of the espresso machines. It’s a new dance, and it is ground up in this SE Portland neighborhood, along with the Stumptown Coffee beans, eclectic personalities and young vibrancy that this neighborhood has built its foundations upon.
The man sitting next to me is a writer; the man on the other side of me is the owner of The Fresh Pot. The woman sitting two tables down is a young mother. And the girl adjacent to me is a student with bleached hair. There aren’t any walls in this community that prevent people from getting to know one another. Instead there are coffee shops, boutiques, bars and restaurants that bring people of all kinds together, creating a harmonized community known as Sunnyside in SE Portland.
Sunnyside Neighborhood is located in SE Portland. The area is known as Belmont to some, because the popular SE Belmont runs through the middle of the neighborhood. The boundaries of Sunnyside are Stark to the north, Hawthorne to the south, 28th Avenue to the west and 49th avenue to the east. Some of the surrounding Portland neighborhoods are Laurelhurst, Buckman, Kerns and Richmond.
Along Belmont there are plenty of independent, locally owned shops such as St.Cupcake. I spoke to Danielle briefly about working at the shop and living in Portland in a video interview. She gives some interesting advice to people looking to move to Portland, which could be very beneficial if you are in that boat!
Located directly across from St.Cupcake on Belmont is a Zupan’s that locals love to shop at. I talked to Jeanette a little bit while she was slicing imported cheeses for the deli. Jeanette lived in Sunnyside for seven years until she moved into further east Portland. But she said what she loves about the neighborhood is simply the feeling of it. It is laid back and “the people are real.” Jeanette also mentioned that she thinks SE Portland is the most fun, and she loves it most out of all the other areas of Portland. Suzie was handing out samples toward the entrance of Zupan’s, and she doesn’t live in the area but she gets to know who the customers of the store are. Most of them are easy going people, she said, and she sees a wide variety of ages that come into the store.
Schools in and near Sunnyside
Glencoe Elementary School
Mt. Tabor Middle School
Sunnyside Environmental K-8 School
Franklin High School
Sitting at the Fresh Pot on Hawthorne, I met Vinny who owns the coffee shop (with another one on Mississippi Avenue). Vinny and I talked about Sunnyside, the Portland life, culture, people, etc. It was basically a conversation revolving around all the great things in Portland. The coffee shop is attached to the Powell’s on Hawthorne, and has its own crowd of people that I think properly represented the greater whole of Sunnyside. There were people on laptops, a young family, Portland visitors and local customers who come in daily and the baristas call by name. Seeing the variety of young, old, families, singles, visitors and locals is a good picture of Sunnyside and who resides within it.
Bread and Ink Cafe on Hawthorne is a similar story. There were a lot of different ages that were working and eating in the restaurant, located directly next to the Waffle Window on the corner of 36th and Hawthorne. With a mix of older folks, families and teens, the restaurant is another lively location on the boulevard that is home to the Sunnyside culture.
St.Cupcake, where I talked to Danielle, is a cute cupcake shop on busy Belmont that was recently remodeled and has delicious cupcakes and adorable party supplies. The store shares a space with Noun, and apparently the owners of both shops grew up together. A great little pair of shops on Belmont, check them out!
Homes & Real Estate
There is a wide variety of architectural styles happening in this SE Portland neighborhood, like most other SE Portland neighborhoods, every once in a while seeing some bright vibrant homes which add to the Sunnyside local flavor. Styles in the neighborhood include classic bungalow, old Portland, foursquare and Cape Cod. There are also plenty of duplexes, apartments and condos within the neighborhood. Since the neighborhood is in a great location, it is expensive to live in. There are a lot of community living situations in this neighborhood, within larger homes and multiple residents making the rent as cheap as possible. From what locals have shared with me, it is difficult finding a place to live in this area, so if you are interested in living in this thriving neighborhood, start looking as soon as possible!
People and Culture
I appreciated the overall amiableness of this neighborhood. Everyone that I spoke to was very friendly, welcoming and outgoing. The service was great everywhere I went, and the environment is safe and fun. There are lots of bright colors in this neighborhood, and I think it really represents the personality of it. Sunnyside Piazza is a street intersection that was turned into a community gathering center for neighborhood residents. It’s on the corner of SE 33rd and Yamhill, and Sunnyside locals painted this intersection in September 2001 into a large, bright and vibrant mural based on the image of a sunflower. Residents obeyed the city ordinance that allows any Portland neighborhood to do such a project, and alas there is a large sunflower in the middle of this intersection. It is one of the unique aspects to this SE Portland neighborhood, and it’s worth checking out.
Overall, Sunnyside is a vibrant, colorful neighborhood both internally and externally. It is evident in the people and the homes and the businesses.