Saturday, October 22, 2005

A Short Walk Down NE Alberta

Portland has ranked at or near the top of "livable city" surveys for years. Abundant recreation, healthful climate and vibrant culture nonwithstanding, a more subtle part of livability can be found in this sidewalk ramp.

As long as you're going to put in a new sidewalk ramp, why not make it interesting with odd angles and lines? It doesn't cost a whole lot more and it invites a greater degree of respect for the public infrastructure.

From what I can gather, NE Alberta was a rough area a decade ago, much like Austin's E. 11th St. or S. Congress.

Today, it's heavily gentrified with small indie businesses catering to the upwardly funky. Nevertheless, vestiges of Alberta's role as "Main Street" of Portland's African American community remain.

The street's renaissance also mirrors similar redevelopments in Austin with its overuse of corrugated metal.

NE Alberta is lined with all sorts of colorful public art installations.

This community tile project on the side of a commercial building is similar to the one planned for the wall of my neighborhood IGA supermarket. People from all over the neighborhood pay a small fee to paint a tile and then they're all grouted together to create a homespun mosaic.

The cynical side of me wants to say the increasing ubiquity of such projects undermines their usefulness. But that sort of thinking makes me feel like a dick.

And I sure do like all them purty colors.

This is the pizza place I was talking about in the last entry. Pizza certainly isn't the first foodstuff that comes to mind when you think of Portland, but Bella Faccia knows what they're doing. The only thing that would've made it better is a side order of the ample old country cleavage so prominently displayed on their sign.

Today I ate halibut fish & chips at the appropriately-named Halibut's on NE Alberta. It didn't come cheap ($11), but the Alaskan halibut filets were perfectly fried without a hint of grease. They also had some sinus-clearing cocktail sauce to go with it.

Interestingly enough, this week's Willamette Week restaurant guide put NE Alberta on the cover as Portland's premier dining district. As someone who knows nothing about this city other than the joy of my last two meals, I second that emotion.

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