The Kenton, Arbor Lodge, and Portsmouth neighborhoods are found in North Portland, south of St. Johns and on the peninsula between the Willamette and Columbia Rivers. Homebuyers who choose North Portland are typically looking for access to parks, quieter urban neighborhoods, excellent public transit options and affordable housing.
Kenton is bounded by the Columbia River in the north, Interstate 5 to the east, and N. Lombard St. in the south. The winding western boundary separates Kenton from St. Johns and Portsmouth. Kenton was founded in 1911 as a company town for Swift Meat Packing. The historic Vanport public housing project, built during World War II to house ship workers, was located within Kenton’s present day boundaries. (Floods destroyed the Vanport homes in 1948.) Oregon’s centennial celebration was held here in 1959. The distinctive (and massive) Paul Bunyan statue was erected in the neighborhood to commemorate that historic occasion. It was declared a national historic landmark in early 2009. The statue (at N. Interstate and N. Argyle street) is a fun Portland site to visit. Kenton’s Historic Firehouse was built in 1913. It was used by the city until 1959 and was declared a historic landmark in 1976. This landmark best represents Kenton’s preservation and restoration efforts.
This area still retains its historic feel and is currently rising in stature once again. A renaissance is taking hold here similar to ones that have shaped other parts of north and northeast Portland in the last five to ten years. The main business district currently runs along N Denver St. Improvements including wider sidewalks, planting trees, and changing traffic patterns are ongoing. In the meantime, there are numerous shops, services, and restaurants that entice locals to get out of the house and enjoy a night on the town. Pizza Fino earns rave reviews for the pizza, gourmet salads, and incredible happy hour specials. Cup and Saucer, a great breakfast & lunch spot, just recently opened a location on N. Denver. Residents prepping for a big BBQ or even a weeknight dinner stop by G & H Meat Market. This knowledgeable local butcher has fans all over the metro area. Other popular Kenton food stops include the Flavour waffle stand on N. Lombard and North Star Coffeehouse on N. Interstate. Multnomah County’s Fairgrounds and the Portland International Raceway also call Kenton home.
Kenton homes have experienced an explosive 75% increase in value over the past five years. But, the median home price is still within reach of many first time homebuyers at about $250,000. The elementary and middle schools range from strong to satisfactory. High school students attend Roosevelt High. Home styles run the gamut from Craftsmans and foursquares to bungalows and cottages. Locals love 12-acre Kenton Park’s recreation fields, picnic area, playground, and wading pool.
Arbor Lodge’s neighborhood boundaries are N. Lombard on the northern side, Interstate-5 in the east, N. Ainsworth to the south, and N. Chatauqua in the east. This community borders University Park and Overlook in addition to Kenton and Portsmouth.
Similar to Kenton, Arbor Lodge has seen its star rise considerably of late – due in part to Portland’s diligent redevelopment efforts. Home prices have rocketed up almost 70% in the last five years primarily because of the influx of new residents and businesses. The median home price is now just under $300,000. Styles range from Cape Cods and bungalows to Old Portland.
Renovated and new grocery stores like Fred Meyer and New Seasons as well as many restaurants, coffee shops, and services are steadily moving in. N. Lombard, one of the main commercial stretches, has many bars, shops, and services. The re-developed area runs along Highway 99W from N Lombard St to N Portland Street. The revamped Fred Meyer is located at one end of the stretch; Portland grocer New Seasons is on the other end. The friendly atmosphere and fresh sushi at Ukiyoe Japanese Restaurant on N. Denver St make this eatery a favorite with locals.
North Portland denizens greatly enjoy the Peninsula Park and Rose Garden located on N Rosa Parks Blvd. The 16-acre garden paradise was acquired by the city in 1909; the city’s very first rose garden and community center are here. Today, residents enjoy the many recreation fields, picnic tables, green space, gardens, and wading pool. Brides can even reserve this lovely space for their special day. Arbor Lodge Park may be smaller and less grand, but it’s still an enjoyable visit. Be sure to check out the adorable bronze Alligator and Otter statue by artist Peter Helzer.
Portsmouth is experiencing the same surging growth that both Kenton and Arbor Lodge are seeing. The up and coming area has also seen a 75% increase in home values, but the median price is still reachable for first time buyers at around $240,000. This community is located right at the center of North Portland and borders University Park, Cathedral Park, St. Johns, Kenton, and Arbor Lodge. The elementary and middle schools are rated as satisfactory by the Oregon Department of Education. Some children in Portsmouth attend Astor Elementary (rated as exceptional) in nearby University Park. The main high school is Roosevelt.
There are several great neighborhood parks within Portsmouth’s environs including 10-acre Northgate Park, 35-acre Columbia Park (which straddles University Park), and 3-acre McCoy Park. McCoy deserves special mention because of its paved picnic area, the great swingsets, and fun splash pad/wading pool. It’s the perfect Portland spot on a hot August afternoon. Ironically, 4-acre Portsmouth Park is actually located within the boundaries of University Park. It’s playground, soccer field, softball field are of course open to all. Portsmouth Community Garden is a mere quarter acre; residents have been using this plot to grow vegetables, fruit, and flowers since 2001.
The University Park Community Center (actually located in Portsmouth) offers locals indoor fitness facilities and meeting rooms; many in North Portland utilize the light-filled facility for community gatherings and parties.
Public transportation options to/from Kenton, Arbor Lodge, and Portsmouth are plentiful, frequent, and convenient. TriMet’s Interstate MAX line serves these communities. Riding from Kenton’s MAX station to downtown only takes about 20 minutes. That’s the same amount of time the average driver spends behind the wheel of their car if they want to drive themselves. Five bus lines weave throughout this area including along N Rosa Parks, N Lombard, and N Willis. And bicyclists are growing in number.