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Today the missus and I took a walk in our old neighborhood in Sunnyside, on SE Belmont. We make no bones about it, we would move back if circumstances allowed. We’ve always regretted moving from that street.

How to describe Southeast Belmont Street? The first word that comes to mind is ‘eclectic’, but then in Portland it’s practically an unwritten ordinance for citizens to use that word when describing their neighborhood, or favorite eatery, or church, or pet. Calling Belmont ‘eclectic’ is too vague; calling it ‘trendy’ is a crime (and I avoid that word in any case. Blech.); the neighborhood feels too lived-in to be trendy. That’s the way I like it. And ‘neighborhood’ is a misnomer here anyway, as the street runs through three neighborhoods as it stretches from SE 12th to SE 60th. The Belmont Area was originally developed around the first trolley line established in 1888, if you like history stuff and/or like puffing up a paragraph like I do.

We lived in an apartment in this house, at Belmont and 29th. We spent hours on the front steps hanging out with friends on warm evenings, listening to the kitchen clatter of Genoa across the street, or sitting in the yard out back drinking and probably annoying dwellers the next building over (we learned of Princess Diana’s demise while sipping atomic lemonades at a table in that yard, our friend Darcy dashing out of her apartment shouting “You guys! Guess what!” Those were good days. Well, for us they were. For Princess Di, not so much.

The house is still there, although most of the tenants have moved on, as we did. The street has changed in the intervening years, happily not losing its slightly-slouchy hands-in-pockets mien. Some businesses closed up, others have opened. The Pied Cow is often a reason for visiting Belmont these days, meeting friends for sips and dips in the evening air of the yard, but other places are attractions as well. The Belmont Inn still props up its corner, and The Belfry and The Cricket Café persevere. Aalto Lounge, and The Laughing Planet Café, and of course Avalon Theatre and Wunderland, seem destined for perpetuity.

Two new (to us) places afforded the missus and me an interesting and tasty stop. Saint Cupcake Deluxe, at 33rd and Belmont, serves sweet palm-sized nirvana. The wife raved about the red velvet variety while I wolfed down a german chocolate cupcake the likes of which I instantly wanted three more. The counter was woman’d by Jennifer, who was very welcoming and enthusiastic about both cupcakes and customers, ensuring a return visit. Thanks, Jennifer!

A few steps beyond Saint Cupcake Deluxe’s counter area was another shop called Noun. This store warms my steampunky heart with its tastefully cluttered display of merchandise and memorabilia from eras past. I honestly wanted every other item in there. My wife paled just a little when she saw me avidly pawing the wares; she’s always afraid I’ll over-run her household décor with gothyfroth and sepia what-nots. I resisted the urges. This time. Stephanie, the owner and curator of Noun, was very gracious and didn’t mind me taking a snap of the interior of the shop. Thanks, Stephanie!

One improvement to Belmont that took place after our move: bike lanes and bike parking! Much needed, much appreciated. Maybe I’ll take a roll on the bike through there sometimes soon. I don’t need much encouragement. It still feels like my neighborhood.

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Comment by Rob Creighton Garrison on April 22, 2012 at 1:58pm

My first thought is St. Johns, in north Portland.  See here for some good housing info and searchable database, and here for an overview of the neighborhood.  St. Johns Bridge, by the way, is in my opinion the coolest bridge in the city.  Good luck, folks!

Comment by Stacia n Honey on April 22, 2012 at 1:33pm

Hi Rob! That sounds like the absolutely perfect neighborhood for us. Perfect. So I jumped right to Redfin to investigate real estate. But sadly, the prices are out of our reach. In your own opinion, is there another area worth checking out - a place you like - that offers the same feel, but with less expensive real estate? We are looking into a move to Portland and it is nearly impossible to get personal opinions about the neighborhoods. Mostly everything I read is like a neighborhood press release; not terribly useful in reality. Heck, I live in the ghetto in Long Beach, CA and to look up MY neighborhood it sounds like an edgy Mayberry.

Comment by Rob Creighton Garrison on January 26, 2012 at 5:32pm

Thanks, ladies.  :o)

Comment by Angela Higgins on January 26, 2012 at 5:06pm

I love all of these places! Awesome blog :)

Comment by Lorri E. on January 26, 2012 at 4:59pm

Hmm, gothyfroth sounds like fun, I need to visit Noun pronto!

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