You can’t buy a house if you can’t find the house. Finding a Portland address is pretty easy if you remember these tips. In an era of GPS navigation, Google Maps and cell phones we may spend less time not knowing where we are but it’s still nice to have a basic understanding of the city.
Portland is divided east and west by the Willamette River. The Burnside Bridge divides the north and the south. If you are in Southwest, you know you are on the west side of the river and south of Burnside. The intersection of the bridge and river is also the “zero block”. Street numbers, 100 per block, start there and fan out. 3900 SE Hawthorne is 39 blocks from the river (at SE 39th). The exception to the rule is North Portland which is the peninsula formed by the Willamette and Columbia Rivers. The eastern edge of North Portland is Williams Avenue.
There are a few areas (Laurelhurst and Ladd’s Addition) that get off the grid system in SE Portland. Sandy BLVD cuts a swath through SE and NE Portland heading northeast from SE 11th Avenue all the way to NE 82nd and beyond. Some addresses in southwest near Johns Landing and Lewis and Clark College and the Willamette River start with zero. Lewis and Clark College is located at 0615 SW Palatine Hill Rd and electronic systems don’t always get it right.
The streets in Northwest are alphabetical starting at Burnside. Many of the names in the “Alphabet District” are named after the figures that shaped Portland’s past including Lovejoy and Pettygrove who settled the city’s name with a flip of the coin (if Lovejoy had won, we’d be living in Boston). You may notice that Portland native and Simpson’s creator Matt Groening, borrowed some of the neighborhood’s street names for characters. Beware that there is no rhyme or reason to the two way and four way stop signs throughout the area. Even more alarming can be the total lack of traffic control at some intersections in some of the southeast and northeast neighborhoods. NW 21st and NW 23rd are business district streets where the speed limit is 20 MPH and every intersection is a crosswalk- the pedestrian has right of way, posted or not.
The building numbers on the north and west sides of the streets are numbered odd. If you can remember “Northwest is odd,” you’re set. With near pinpoint accuracy, you are now ready to find Portland real estate with a native’s confidence. Just leave the umbrella at home.