West Burnside Street

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West Burnside, a section of a large historically commercial street formally called Ankeny Street. In Portland it is the horizontal line that separates the North quadrants from the South quadrants. The Willamette river is the vertical line.

In most towns there exists a single road that is located in such a way that it splits a city in two distinctive halves. Often, the road will cause a distinctive change in angle of the street block grids. The angle change will cause a series of small triangle shaped blocks.


Similar town splitting streets in other cities:

  • Atlantic Avenue - Brooklyn, NY
  • Bowery Street - New York, NY
  • Olive Way - Seattle, WA
  • Market Street - San Francisco, CA
  • South Alameda - Los Angeles, CA


West Burnside specifically is a section that passes through what is considered the older historical downtown of Portland. Like many of these older commercial streets, they start out as being the city's prominent boulevard. A central trunk for earlier urban development. This takes its toll as the years go by, as once successful and prominent buildings become old and are slow to be renovated. New commercial buildings and developments appeared in the SW quadrant using cheaper land at that time.

In some ways the historical nature of these buildings, attract a certain kind of commerce that survives over long financial cycle while unable to gain pronounced success. Businesses such as Cabaret Lounge, Roseland Theatre and Powell's Bookstore, serve to anchor what is considered Portland's commercial personality.


Culturally Nearby Businesses