Monthly Archives: May 2007

More Portland

Oregon Convention Center, originally uploaded by borenan.

“Oregon Convention Center from the corner of Martin Luther King and Multnomah Blvd,” part of a Portland set from borenan.

A different view, coincidentally of the same statue and context, but by a different photographer, is below.

With several different batches of images coming from Portland, OR, it may be interesting to note that developments on that city’s MLK Blvd. have been the subject of some press attention this year. In January 2007, Willamette Week interviewed Anita Smith, owner of Hanna Bea’s. Excerpts:

When Smith took over one corner of the decaying boulevard at Northeast Shaver Street in 2002 for her dessert mecca and restaurant, “snobby skeptics” questioned the viability of her location, Smith says….

What was once considered financially risky seems far less so today; for example, the gentrification-friendly Terroir wine bar is scheduled to open on MLK in May.

The worry, Smith says, is that gentrification will push out black-owned businesses like hers. She can point to a history in Portland in which decades of racist real-estate practices limited black families to Northeast Portland.

The symbolism of the street’s name, of course, makes its redevelopment that much more important to African-American business owners like Smith.

“How’s it going to be MLK Boulevard without MLK businesses?” Smith asks. “If you have an MLK Boulevard, you have to have nice, respectable places that represent his culture.”


MLK & Holladay, originally uploaded by ray+an.

“Part of my photography final,” expains ray+an. (Her personal favorites set here; her blog Cardboard Condominium here.) “Statue on the corner of NE MLK & Holladay in Portland, OR. I like the effect the flag made with the slower shutter speed.”


Paulrus gives you MORE

Paulrus gives you MORE, originally uploaded by skomra.

Aaron Armstrong Skomra contributes this image from the MLK in Portland, OR. It’s also part of his sets Paulrus is Dead, and Portland Graffiti.

Mr. Skomra has been in Portland for about a year, and cautions that he thus has only impressions of the MLK there based on his own observations and local journalism. Still, his comments are interesting:

Portland is seeing a huge development boom and MLK is no exception. The Portland Development Commission would like to run a “streetcar ” (we already have a light rail and two other “streetcars”) up the MLK here which would surely increase the rate of the development in the area. The Boulevard runs through Northeast Portland, one of
Portland’s five “quadrants.” Northeast Portland is a different ball of wax. Suffice it to say that NE Portland was formerly predominantly African American and a number of
factors are causing more whites and Latinos to move into the area. I presume this will eventually change, in some way, the character of MLK, but I can’t really predict what
that change will be.

MLK is a business district more than a neighborhood. (There is a Neighborhood “King” which is adjacent to a part of MLK Blvd.) Most of the businesses are small, with some corporate chains, and a couple of flagship-type stores by Nike and Adidas. Unlike MLK in New York, which I lived close to for five years, most of the traffic is by car or bus. There isn’t much pedestrian traffic, though there are some establishments where people gather socially.

The picture I took was of the side of a building which has a small business. Interestingly enough, after I took the photo the owner (I presume it was the owner) removed the MORE graffiti but left the “Paulrus is Dead” tag.

Mr. Skomra has some interesting observations about photography in the digital on his profile page. (“There’s something wonderful about flickr in that all of the photos still seem to be random, you could chance upon anything, but now because images can be tagged they can also be easily retrieved from their randomness. The combination of order and disorder in the database rules.”)

Separately, regarding his own photography, he says: “Most of my photographs try and place the subject in some kind of larger context. In general, I’d rather have a photo
with too much information that seems cluttered than have a singular romanticized subject.” Often his photo setting is Northeast Portland.