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Woodlawn Neighborhood Photo Tour: Walking, Eating, Drinking, Playing & More

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Woodlawn Neighborhood Tour: Walking, Eating, Drinking, Playing & More
Woodlawn Neighborhood Photo Tour: Walking, Eating, Drinking, Playing & More
Joshua Liberles

Portland's Woodlawn Historic District -- located in the inner portion of the city's Northeast quadrant -- has a cohesive, community feel to it. Despite having the bustling, urban NE Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard as its western border, the neighborhood maintains its longstanding residential, predominantly working class profile with single family bungalows -- many of which date from late 19th and early 20th century -- making up the majority of the homes.

According to Remembering Woodlawn (Arcadia Publishing, 2008), the area transformed from a small, rural village when the Portland and Vancouver Railway built a train station along what is currently known as NE Dekum Street. Visitors and businesses sprang up, but they remained centered along that road. Today, Dekum Street, which runs from east to west and roughly bisects the Woodlawn neighborhood, continues to host the area's small but thriving commercial center, with everything from build-it-yourself frozen yogurt creations to fine dining. Along with many of the surrounding North and Northeast Portland neighborhoods, Woodlawn is among the most racially diverse areas in the state: According to the 2010 census (as broken down here by the City of Portland), the neighborhood is 56.6% white, 30% black and 10.6% Hispanic.

While Portland has plenty of more frequented sites and areas that are well worth a visit, to truly get a sense of the city means getting off the well-trodden paths and checking out some of its quirky neighborhoods. Woodlawn's main attractions lie between NE MLK and NE 15th, so start at one end and wend your way to the other. A visit to this district is easily combined with the nearby and popular Alberta Arts District (about one mile to the south) and N Mississippi Avenue (one mile to the west).

Getting There

If you're driving, Woodlawn is a little over a mile east of Interstate 5's Rosa Parks Boulevard exit, or follow NE MLK north until you reach NE Dekum. Street parking is free and plentiful. There are also several bike boulevards, which make cycling up to Woodlawn the perfect transportation mode, and you'll score points with the hordes of locals who do the same. Public transportation is also a great option: The No. 8 bus leaves Pioneer Courthouse Square and comes up NE 15th Street, the No. 6 bus travels on MLK, and the MAX light rail system's yellow line has a stop at Rosa Parks that's just over one mile away. See the TriMet website for more public transportation info, or plot your driving or cycling route via this map.
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