Portland Neighborhood Guide: Boise-Eliot
Boise-Eliot is a neighborhood of Inner North / Northeast Portland housing the famed Mississippi Avenue. A hotspot for the arts and culture, brews and food that are the face of modern Portland, Boise is the ground zero for the Portland that you might see featured in travel articles or television vignettes. There is A LOT going on here all the time! However, these sorts of portrayals miss most of what makes Boise so special: it’s community. As part of the greater Albina area, Boise-Eliot is a small part of an unbelievably vibrant community of small business owners, artisans, artists, activists and community organizers that have banded together to create an incredible quality of life experienced in few other parts of the US. Because of the community’s focused efforts, Boise-Eliot has developed into both a destination and an amazing place to live, despite it being mostly abandoned just 30 short years ago.
Blanketed with Bike Lanes, excellent options for food and groceries, good transit, and close proximity to downtown Portland, Boise-Eliot is an outstanding location for alternative commuting. Owning a car here is entirely optional.
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(from The History of Albina by Roy Roos )
By the late 1880s, Albina, located across the Willamette River from Portland, was the fastest growing city in Oregon. In July 1891, the city was annexed by the City of Portland, which at the time existed only on the west side of the river. East Portland, south of Albina, was also annexed, and Portland grew to more than twenty-six square miles. As a result of the annexation, much of the city’s residential population began shifting to the east side of the river into the borders of modern day Boise-Eliot, Humboldt, King, Overlook, Irvington, and Piedmont.
The original Town of Albina was platted and laid out in 1873 by developers who had connections with railroad interests. In 1879, developers William Reid and James B. Montgomery, also with ties to transportation, purchased most of Albina and established a new industrial infrastructure, which was strengthened when the transcontinental railroad link was completed in 1883. Residents found work in the railroad shops terminal, on the docks, and with other industrial operations that opened up. Many small businesses were established, and construction boomed with new buildings and homes that shaped the face of today’s neighborhoods.
For more neighborhood history, check out the Boise and Eliot Neighborhood Association Pages.
Home styles / Architecture:
Boise-Eliot contains the classic mix of Portland architecture ranging from Craftsman and Four Squares to Bungalows and Cape Cods. You’ll even see a few older Victorians mixed in! Being among the first suburbs east of the Willamette and part of historic Albina, century-old trees can be found on nearly every street.
You’ll find the colorfully painted houses and unique landscaping common to the Portland area in every corner of Boise-Eliot.
The Self Enhancement Insitute is a local nonprofit and public charter high school aimed at meaningful intervention into the lives of Portland’s most disadvantaged and at-risk youth. SEI students come from the SEI Academy (middle school) and public schools including Boise-Eliot, Vernon, Woodlawn and Ockley Green K-8 schools, as well as H. B. Lee middle school, Jefferson, Grant and Reynolds high schools.
PCC – Cascade Campus is located nearby on the border of nearby Piedmont and Humboldt neighborhoods. Many of Boise’s residents are students there or at Portland State University downtown.
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Food and Entertainment:
Boise-Eliot contains not one, but two major destination-streets that have attracted a whole slew of amazing restaurants and shops that often draw Portlanders from across the city. Both of these streets merit exploratory trips of their own: there’s no shortage of things to see and do on either! So many, in fact, that we can only give you a short synopsis; almost everything in the area is worth a visit.
On North Williams Ave, Tasty and Sons serves up an ever-evolving menu of New American eats. Coupled with an exquisite breakfast menu with many, many twists on the classic bloody mary, this spot has become one of the premier brunching spots in the entire city. If you’re thinking about a morning that includes mimosas and benedict, come early or be prepared to wait! We promise it’ll be worth it, even if you do end up enjoying a bloody mary or two in the line. Carnivores be advised: just down the street, The People’s Pig is smoking, braising, and grilling their own take on the classics of barbecue. Perhaps the most inventive part of their menu are the cocktails featuring smoky, alcoholic concoctions of the American South and Southwest. A bloody mary topped with a rib? Yes, please. Williams is also home to the local New Seasons Market of Inner North / Northeast Portland, a local favorite for organic groceries and snacks.
On perennially hip Mississippi Ave, locals can find some of the city’s favorites: Miss Delta, Por Que No? taqueria, Bar Bar & Mississippi Studios for concerts, Gravy, Ruby Jewel Scoops, and much more sprinkled in between a variety of specialty shops. If you’re looking for all the wonder and amusement of a natural history museum in a boutique, check out Paxton Gate. With curiosities ranging from beautifully preserved butterfly specimens and fossils, to colorful and interesting mineral formations, you may just find that oddly perfect gift for a special someone. A jackalope head, maybe? Even if nothing strikes you as fitting the ticket, just visiting is a blast (but be sure to support your local businesses, eh?).
The Mississippi Street Fair, the largest street fair in the Portland Metro Area, packs the avenue to the brim every July for the benefit of local charities.
(from the City of Portland Parks and Recreation, photo by Doug Beghtel, The Oregonian)
Denorval Unthank Park is the neighborhood park located within Boise proper. Dedicated to one of Portland’s founding civil rights leaders, this park has baseball fields, basketball courts, open field, and play area for Albina locals to use.
Irving City Park, located just across Martin Luther King Blvd. and larger than Unthank Park, includes baseball and soccer fields, basketball courts, horseshoe pits, playground, tennis and volleyball courts. With a designated off-leash area for dogs, Irving Park is a perfect walking destination for local dog owners.
Demography & Statistics:
(from Fidelity arcGIS Maps)
|2015 Median Household Income||$40,314|
|2015 Median Age||34|
|2015 Median Home Value||$342,804|
|2015 Pop Density (persons/sq mi)||9,165|
City Data for Boise-Eliot Neighborhood