Thursday, November 17, 2011


A happy Thursday, friends.  I’m writing this on a rather wet & gloomy Portland Wednesday afternoon, but I do have some further news on the possibility of a place to live—I hasten to add, however: nothing definite yet.

But good news all in all.  On Monday I traveled across town to the Maya Angelou Apartments in the Northeast/North section of the city, met with the manager of the apartment complex, which takes up an entire city block!—filled out more paperwork, & had the pleasure of hanging out at the local Social Security office to get a copy of a paper I’d misplaced—actually, the latter experience was not that bad: the line wasn’t too long (perhaps a factor of the downpour happening outside!)  I think the meeting went well, & the manager told me her process would take a week or less.  If all goes well, I should have a place of my own
—possibly as early as next week!  You can see the complex in the lead-off photo.

N Mississippi Ave - Gumbo Gifts & Gallery
 In terms of geography, Portlanders I talk to seem firmly conviced that the address is Northeast, but the streets are actually prefixed with North, so go figure!  As I’ve mentioned in the past, Portland is divided into quadrants: northeast/southeast/northwest/southwest, with the east-west dividing line being the Willamette River & the north-south dividing line being Burnside Street.  But it's not really quadrants, because there’s also North—still Portland proper, but given its own geographic designation—it’s sometimes called “the fifth quadrant.”  As far as I can determine, streets that are west of Williams Avenue are more often than not designated as “North,” but this isn’t a hard & fast rule.  Fact is, until you get way up by the Columbia River (which marks the boundary between Oregon & Washington state), much of the “Northeast” section is just as far north as the “North” section, & it’s all on the east side of the river! 
Mississippi Studios!
Further complicating this is the fact that, while the streets around that area almost all have the “North” designation, the neighborhood itself—the Boise neighborhood (coincidence indeed for someone moving from Idaho)—is part of the Northeast Coalition of Neighborhoods.  Again, go figure!
Food Trucks!
The area has been subject to a good deal of gentrification over the past several years, but in fact a high percentage of Federally subsidized & Federal low-income housing is still found in the Northeast & North parts of town.  The two areas that have seen the most gentrification are the Alberta Street area, especially from streets numbered in the teens on up, & the Mississippi Avenue area, & in that case especially between Skidmore & Fremont.  Historically, these areas of north & northeast Portland had a predominantly African-American population, but at this point the population would be considered—for lack of a better term—“mixed.”  In this sense, it very much resembles the Western Addition of San Francisco where I lived in the 1990s.
Display in the "Light Bulb Store" window - N Mississippi Ave
I’m hopeful, I really am.  The apartment is a bit more than I’d hoped to spend, but I am confident I can afford it.  Things will be tight, however!  Some local folks are chipping in some much needed furniture, & I have a shipment of various household items coming this way Thanksgiving weekend with an Idaho friend who also has a Portland connection & was coming here on her own business anyway.  Because I know at least two people who travel from the Council, Idaho area to Portland with some regularity, I should be able to get most of my remaining belongings over here in a piecemeal manner.
Miss Delta - a promising eatery - N Mississippi Ave
But first things first!  First I need the place itself, & while things look good, it never pays to count on something till you’re sure.  So I continue to ask for your good wishes, positive vibes etc!  I hope to check in with some definite news within the week!

[Note: Apologies to folks who already saw these pix on Facebook!]


  1. Good luck, John! It looks liked an interesting neighborhood.

  2. Love the light bulb store display. The place looks quite magical. Hope it magics you a successful outcome. Fingers are very crossed!

  3. Hi Roy, Joyce & Dave

    Roy: Thanks so much--things are looking good; better than I intimated in the post! Not all "is" are dotted or "t's" crossed, however. Appreciate the good wishes!

    Joyce: Thanks so much!

    Dave: Yes, the light bulb store is really quite wonderful, & the area itself really appeals to me. Thanks so much for your kind good wishes--as I mentioned to Roy, things are looking quite good at this point!

  4. Good luck with securing the housing and making it work financially.

    It's interesting that the apartments are named for someone who's best known for her poetry :)

  5. Hi HKatz: Yes, a cool thing, I think--the Maya Angelou name. Thanks for the good wishes. The financial part will be hard, but I have faith that it will work out.

  6. I think this is the perfect area for you... and now I think it is settled, right? Still keeping my fingers crossed for you to be in an apartment very soon.

  7. Hi Cheryl: Thanks! Yes, it is a done deal--I am in!

  8. Thinking of you, John, and hoping for a positive outcome.


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