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What Meets the Eye in Northeast Portland

by Nick Kaufmann

Portland's northeast neighborhoods have become a new frontier for arts and culture in the city. Lower rents, generous bike lanes (even a highway), arts festivals like Last Thursday, and low-rise shopping streets like Alberta Street and Mississippi Avenue have attracted Portlandians to live and play in the area.

Yet as these "historic districts" have gained momentum, they have introduced economic and social tension to historically black and Latino areas. Discriminatory "red lining" practices of banks in the 1940s led to concentrations of minorities in North and Northeast Portland, the only areas where they could buy from realtors, who risked losing their licenses if they sold to minorities elsewhere.

Despite the narratives of gentrification surrounding Northeast, the area is full of contradictions and places where the stereotypes break down. A leisurely stroll down Alberta Street during the recent annual street fair revealed a diverse cast of Portland characters stepping out in the neighborhood in their own ways and taking in the relaxed atmosphere of the street.

More information on Portland's northeast neighborhoods can be found at +_Positive Spaces.

Nick Kaufmann is a recent graduate of Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon, where he majored in sociology and anthropology. He has since conducted research in Japan as a Fulbright student and volunteered for Heart of Biddeford, a dynamic urban development foundation in his hometown in Maine.

Credits: Video by Nick Kaufmann.

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