A North East Portland Neighborhood that Has Come Into Its Own
Concordia, one of the larger neighborhoods in North East Portland, has been slowly emerging as one of the city of Portland’s most eclectic and best loved. It is bordered on the west by the Sabin, Vernon, and North Woodlawn neighborhoods; on the north by the Sunderland neighborhood; on the east by Cully, and by Beaumont-Wilshire and Alameda on the south side.
Concordia is one of Portland’s most diverse neighborhoods, and residents pride themselves on that face, as well as their neighborhood’s reputation for being a hub for the arts. For starters, almost all of the Alberta Street Arts District is located within Concordia. Concordia University, a private liberal arts school, is also located in the center of the neighborhood. And last, the McMenamins hotel and restaurant chain maintains a large event space and hotel property within the neighborhood as well.
Concordia: The History of the Neighborhood
Concordia was named for the University that lies at its center, near the beginning of the turn of the twentieth century in 1905. The college, founded by the Lutheran Church to train pastors and teachers for the greater Portland area, still maintains a liberal arts college on twenty-five acres in the center of the neighborhood.
In the early twentieth century, Alberta Street and the whole of the Concordia neighborhood was at the very edge of the growing city of Portland. Over the first few decades of the century, the neighborhood grew and coalesced around Alberta Street, Killingsworth Street, and Thirty-Third Avenue. Eventually, displaced African American ship workers who lost their home in the 1948 Vanport flood, settled in Concordia and the surrounding neighborhoods.
The neighborhood remained largely African American until urban renewal efforts began in the 1990s. In the late nineties, the Alberta Street community put forth plans to make the neighborhood a vital arts and retail district by improving mass transit and the biking and walking experience in the neighborhood. Development dollars followed, and the neighborhood is now one of the most diverse and vibrant parts of the city.
Concordia’s western border is North East Twenty-Second Avenue; its northern border is North East Columbia Boulevard; its eastern border is North East Forty-Second Avenue; and its southern border is made up of both North East Prescott Street and North East Alberta Court, depending on which side of North East Thirty-Third Avenue you happen to be standing on.
Some Great Places in the Concordia Neighborhood
A hotel, a theater, several restaurants and bars, a soaking pool, conference rooms, and multiple event spaces all housed within a remodeled turn of the twentieth century elementary school? Only in Portland. Kennedy School has to be experienced to be believed. Whether you’re in for a soak, a movie, dinner, drinks, a conference, a concert, or the weekend, you’re sure to have great time in this beautifully converted and preserved building and grounds.
The Alberta Arts District runs from around North East Fifteenth Avenue to around North East Thirtieth Avenue along Alberta Street, depending on whom you ask. The district is home to near countless independent art galleries, art supply shops, artist studios, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, and boutiques. The district hosts a monthly art walk on the last Thursday of each month, and a street fair in the summer.
Concordia University is now a four-year liberal arts college training young people in a wide variety of disciplines, through various pre-professional programs, and for the seminary.
Fernhill and Alberta Parks
Fernhill and Alberta Parks are the neighborhood’s largest public green spaces, though Concordia University does allow public use of its green spaces with some regulation. Fernhill Park is a twenty-four acre park located at the intersection of North East Thirty-Seventh and Ainsworth. Park amenities include softball diamonds and baseball, soccer and football fields, tennis courts, and a volleyball court. The park also has horseshoe pits, a playground and wading pool for the children, and picnic tables. The park hosts a free concert series over the summer, and Fernhill features public restrooms, too.
Alberta Park is a seventeen-acre park just inside the northern border of the Concordia neighborhood and adjacent to Vernon Elementary School. Alberta Park has a softball and baseball diamond, football and soccer fields, a covered basketball court, two tennis courts, and a playground and wading pool for the kids. The park also has picnic area, walking trails, and public restrooms.