By Aryne + Dulcinea, July 30, 2018
By Aryne + Dulcinea, July 30, 2018
There’s no denying that the face of Portland has undergone drastic change over the past decade. A recent report analyzed 50 of the country’s largest metro areas to reveal Portland as the fourth-most changed city in the past ten years. With new housing complexes and local empires dominating development city-wide, the charm of Old Portland can be a refreshing change of pace. Fortunately, steeping in nostalgic comfort of the city’s blue-collar past is exactly what Portland’s Kenton neighborhood provides.
Tucked away in the city’s northern peninsula, Kenton was once an independently-owned company town serving the meat packing and manufacturing industries. Despite its distinct and historic nature, the neighborhood eventually fell into disrepair and struggled to attract stable businesses. This prompted the Portland Development Commission to initiate a years-long revitalization effort to improve community and economic well-being in Kenton’s Business district. Today, Kenton is an evolving area attractive to newcomers and creatives for its affordable real estate and marriage of old-century charm and modern amenities.
Portland’s Kenton neighborhood is a dream for early risers, who can choose from a wide selection of delicious breakfast and coffee options. Both results of the revitalization efforts, coffeehouses Presso and Prince each offer a distinct ambiance and an elevated menu of beverages and snacks. There’s no wrong choice here, but Presso’s slightly larger menu and decadent coffee creations (hello, charcoal lavender latte!) are the perfect way to treat yourself. For a quick bite, choose from their selection of specialty toasts or pastry items. More substantial brunch and breakfast options can be found just next door at the brand new establishment, Derby’s.
Walking around Kenton can transport you to another place and time entirely, as the collection of businesses along historic Denver Avenue creates a feeling of small-town living. We encourage you to embrace this narrative and explore the main strip as a tourist. Like many small towns, there are plenty of gems to be found. Among them are the iconic Paul Bunyan Statue, homewares store Mantel, the fashionable Give & Take Resale consignment shop, Speck’s Records & Tapes, Salvage Works reclaimed wood shop, and the curated Kenton Antiques & Collectibles. You can even stop by the Kenton Library to enjoy one of their community-minded events or peruse their inclusive book selection.
Included in Kenton’s main stretch is local staple, Posies Bakery. This coffee and lunch spot is great representation of the neighborhood and its deeply engrained sense of community. Stop in for a snack and join a community of freelancers and local families in enjoying the brightly-lit space.
After you’ve combed through the local businesses scene, it’s time to explore the natural elements that make Kenton’s location so appealing. If travelling by foot, you can enjoy a leisurely stroll through the neighborhood’s pride, Kenton Park. Spanning 11.91 acres, Kenton Park is lush with old growth greenery and family-based activities. You can even enjoy the scenery over a cold beverage, as nearby Parkside offers up snacks and drinks with an obstructed view of the park.
For those who prefer their nature wild and untamed, the 10-minute drive to Smith & Bybee Wetlands Natural Area will uncover an oasis. With over 2,000 acres of wilderness, you can explore these wetlands by foot, bike, or kayak. As one of the largest urban freshwater wetlands in nation, Smith & Bybee serves as a habitat for beaver, bald eagles and western painted turtles.
After an evening of exploration, allow yourself to wind down in the modern industrial atmosphere of Swift & Union, owned by Tabor Tavern proprietor Ken “Zig” Naffziger. Swift & Union’s menu executes a range of dishes equally exciting to both meat eaters and their vegetarian counterparts.
In the style of a small town, many of central Kenton’s establishment close around 10. However, Kenton still has a lot to offer night owls. In addition to a selection of dive bars that include the allegedly haunted Kenton Station, Kenton Club and Tavern on Denver, you can also find a robust bill of events at the Portland International Raceway.
Unlike many other neighborhoods in Portland, Kenton seems slower transition to demands of the growing city and it remains, at heart, an intimate community. What’s your favorite part of Portland’s Kenton neighborhood?