Why I love Portland! Portland Rock Gym

Serving the Portland climbing community for over 30 years, Portland Rock Gym offers rock climbing, bouldering, yoga, fitness, and a rock climbing guide service. Now with over 25,000 sq.ft. of climbing terrain including auto-belays, top-ropes, and leading you’ll have plenty to keep you occupied and in shape! Quality instruction and fun events are a staple at the gym, for beginners and experts alike. For youth, PRG offers birthday parties, after school programs, the competition team, and week-long indoor/outdoor camps during school breaks. All these activities will challenge youth with high-rope elements, zip-lines, king swings, and cargo nets! Let our staff lead your group or business in our comprehensive and engaging Team Building Events and Group Belay Events. New in 2015 was the addition of the Wy’east Yoga & Fitness Studio. Instructors maintain the highest level of personal practice, study, and integrity in and out of the studio. They are committed to excellence and are attentive to the developmental needs of the Portland Rock Gym community. Facilities include showers, lockers, Wy’east Yoga Studio, Prasad East cafe, as well as weight and cardio equipment. See you at the top!

Established in 1988.

Founded in 1988, the Portland Rock Gym is one of the first climbing gyms in the world. With bouldering, top-rope, and overhanging lead walls, PRG offers a realistic climbing experience for beginning and experienced climbers alike. The Portland Rock Gym offers a world-class indoor climbing experience. You’ll find over 180 boulder problems throughout the gym up to 100 routes at any given time. The variety of course setters and 2-month rotation guarantee a positive experience. In addition, you’ll find a weight room, cardio machines, yoga & fitness classes in Wy’east Studio, showers and AC to round out your workout.

Meet the Business Owner
Business owner information
Photo of Gary R.
Gary R.

Business Owner

Gary has been climbing throughout the West Coast for almost 40 years. On a trip to England in 1987, he got the idea of building an indoor climbing gym. While there, Rall heard about a community center that had a climbing wall where people kept in shape during the winter months when the weather was bad. He thought of Portland’s rainy weather and decided to build the Portland Rock Gym. It turned out to be the second gym in the country, and the first to use modular holds. His wife, Julie, actually came up with the phrase “rock gym” as they named the business.

Posted on December 31, 2019 at 7:04 pm
Brian Johnson | Category: Portland, Sports

Why I love Portland! Living Room Theaters


Visionary. Extraordinary. Earth-friendly.
Living Room® Theaters is a visionary new concept created by longtime filmmakers. We set out to reinvent the way films are viewed and distributed. And to change everything we didn’t like about conventional and art house movie theaters – from the film selection to the lobby ambiance, food, seating and service.

Welcome to the new evolution of cinema – Living Room® Theaters — the sophisticated yet superbly comfortable environment that combines a European style café and lounge with a relaxing place to see wonderful movies. Cinema has come to its senses.

In fact, Living Room® Theaters is cinema for your senses – a feast of sights, sounds, flavors, textures and creativity. See movies the way they’re meant to be viewed. Enjoy exclusive new releases and the most-talked about independent films that critics and audiences love – without waiting months for the movies to reach Portland.

Your group can also reserve a theater for a private party or special event. Or use our technology for meetings, lectures and innovative presentations.

Independent. Award-winning. Unlimited.
Living Room® Theaters is a celebration of great, independent films and filmmakers. We’re deeply committed to the vibrant, growing local film community. We also chose to launch in Portland because of active film lovers like you – Portland has one of the highest per capita film going audiences of any city in the U.S.

Our proprietary digitizing technology enables even first-time directors and producers to distribute their independent films – without the prohibitively high costs of making and shipping traditional celluloid prints. We are able to showcase acclaimed films and independent filmmakers, from local to international, as well as groundbreaking movies that otherwise might be screened only at festivals. We also premiere many films that have not yet had distribution in the U.S.

Our digital technology also expands the functions our theaters can offer. Films, television broadcasts, music, dedicated programs and other materials can easily be programmed and shown in multiple Living Room® Theaters locations.

Earth friendly. Energy conscious. Sustainable.
Launched in December 2006, our Portland, Oregon location is the first all-digital and only-digital theater in the country. This new concept offers significant environmental advantages. By eliminating celluloid prints and traditional distribution, we eliminate the use of chemicals like silver nitrate and reduce non-biodegradable materials and pollution. Digital projection is also more energy-efficient, from transportation to projection.

Environmental. Inspired. Inviting.
Located in the heart of the West End just south of Burnside from Powell’s, across from the new Ace Hotel, Living Room® Theaters is designed to be “a jewel box” on Portland’s cultural and entertainment scene.

We used natural materials and light to transform our funky historic building into a stellar space. A dramatic sculptural cedar wall invites you in via a “curtain” that flows from the exterior to the interior. The stunning fireplace, soaring windows and “make yourself at home” arrangement of tables, chairs and sofas in the lounge invite you to linger and connect.

© 2019 Living Room® Theaters – Security and Privacy Policy

Posted on April 1, 2019 at 4:04 pm
Brian Johnson | Category: Arts and Culture, Portland, Restaurants | Tagged , , , , ,

Why I love Portland! St. Johns Neighborhood

St. Johns is located in North Portland and is bordered by Linnton, Cathedral Park, University Park, Portsmouth and Kenton neighborhoods.

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St. Johns Features

St. Johns feels very detached from Portland proper and has a distinct small town feel to it. The post office, coffee shops, breakfast places, restaurants, movie theaters, grocery stores, and several parks, are all within walking distance for residents who live close to the downtown strip.

St. Johns has a rich and interesting history. An 1843 pioneer settler of Linnton, James John, moved across the river and started St. Johns in about 1865. St. Johns became part of Portland in1915, two years before Linnton joined the growing city. There used to be a lot of streetcars in St Johns and many interesting old houses & buildings still remain.

It’s not possible to discuss St. Johns without singing the praises of the St. Johns bridge. The bridge is stunning and the focal point of many famous photos. It is often compared to the Golden Gate Bridge and mistakenly reported as being designed by the same person. The builder of the St Johns bridge was John Steinman who was rumored to be a rival to the builder of the Golden Gate Bridge.

One virtue of the bridge that is often overlooked by much of Portland, is a 12 minute commute to downtown Portland and15-20minutes to Beaverton or Hillsboro. Highway 30, the road connecting the other side of the bridge to downtown Portland suffers very little traffic during the 8-5 or 9-6 commute hours (although, anecdotally, it’s busier during earlier hours 5-7 am and 2:30 – 4:30). Germantown road to Skyline or Cornelius pass dissimilarly light traffic during banker’s hours commute.

Neighborhood Vibe

St. John’s is described by locals as “extremely friendly“, “A town within a city…” “There seems to be quite an underground of artists and fellow travelers in these parts.”  Some parts of St Johns feel new and others gritty and perhaps not so safe, especially at night.


St. Johns Real Estate

St. John’s features all styles of Portland architecture, from ranches and cape cods, to the occasional Victorian home. St. Johns is an older Portland community.

If you are interested in buying or selling a home in this Portland neighborhood, visit our Portland Real Estate Page for more information, or visit our Portland Real Estate Map to search the RMLS for neighborhood homes for sale.


St Johns Community Resources

Zip Code 97203

St. Johns On-line Community

St. John Neighborhood Information

Local Crime Stats


St. Johns Farmers Market

St. Johns Schools:

Elementary school: James John Elementary School

Middle school: George Middle School

High school: Roosevelt High School

Portland Public School Boundaries

Neighborhood Demographics and Census Statistics


Local Google Map

Neighborhood Boundary Map


St. John’s is home to beautiful Cathedral Park. The aptly named park, directly below the bridge is home not only to the “cathedral-like” arches of the bridge piers, but a boat ramp, a dog off-leash area, and a hiking trail. The park itself was created out of what was essentially wasteland under the bridge in the early 70s by St. Johns honorary mayor Howard Galbraith (per Portland Parks and recreation). There is a water pollution control lab that has a charming natural habitat wetland sanctuary where you may spot nutria and red winged blackbirds. The yearly St Johns blues jazz festival is also held in Cathedral Park.

Forest Park has a trailhead on the west side of the St. Johns Bridge. You can walk across the bridge and be right in the forest. Forest Park is the largest old-growth urban forest in the United States. This trail area of the park features the most wildlife–you may spot some deer and other animals foraging quietly in the forest.

The Smith & Bybee Lakes wildlife sanctuary is tucked away in St.. Johns, also. It’s a protected wetland scenic area that is unique and beautiful–and a bird watchers delight! The Portland Parks website indicates that most visitors to the lakes can find beaver, river otter, black-tailed deer, osprey, bald eagles, and one of the largest remaining populations of Western painted turtles in Oregon. The Columbia Slough has boat ramps where people take canoes and rafts for a relaxing ride. There is public art along the restored trail.

Pier Park is another great park that is like a little forest, and sometimes hosts classical music performances.

St. Johns Restaurants & Businesses

Originally settled independently of Portland, St. Johns used to be its own city complete with City Hall.  Now that building houses the police station, and the two towns are one.  Or are they?

Of course legally the two cities are one.  And then there’s that Kum Ba Yah can’t-we-all-just-get-along way, sure.  But walking the streets, it doesn’t take long to get the vibe that, “Toto, we’re not in Portland anymore.”

Somewhere between the architecture that’s frozen at different moments in Main Street Americana and the fiercely, did I mention fiercely, proud neighbors and proprietors, is a sense of community that is different, special, even self-reflective. It’s as if the community pastime consists of pinching oneself at the opportunity to live and work in St. Johns.

Of course, some of the St. Johns’ satisfaction has to do with age. No rocket science here. Plain and simple, history equals roots equals pride. And in St. Johns, you can’t throw a rock and not hit something historic.  Some of the oldest buildings in all of Portland are in St. Johns and some of the oldest businesses. The bike shop clocks in as the very first, established in 1925 and now in its third generation.  The bakery is also in its third generation.  The hardware store was the oldest in the land before hard times, but it’s making a comeback.  You can chomp on pizza at a gas station that goes back to the‘30s, and the soda fountain was flowing in the ‘50s.

Most of the proprietors live nearby, and their sense of community weighs in far stronger than any feelings of competition.  When you talk to shop owners in St. Johns, they can’t wait to recommend several other shops on the block.  They’ll tell you who owns them, how long they’ve been around, and the quality work they’re up to.

Taking their lead, here’s what we found.

Big Kahuna’s Barbeque

Big Kahuna's Barbeque, St. Johns So this place isn’t the oldest in the’ hood, but Gary Herrera, owner and Big Kahuna, does it the old fashioned way.  He smokes and barbeques all his own meat right there on the premises.  This guy with the huge, welcoming smile is so serious about barbeque that he holds classes and even barbeque competitions.  The next one will coincide with the St. Johns parade that is the annual kick off to the Rose Festival season.

Recently Gary’s won best caterer of the year, and the restaurant is listed as one of Portland’s Top100.  He’s the champion of several competitions across the States.  And with dishes like Kalua Pig Plate and Smoked Beef Plate with some Mango Cole Slaw, the Big Kahuna seems to have found the winning recipe for making a place in St.Johns’ history.

8221 N. Lombard Street

Big Kahunas Barbeque and Catering

Portland, OR 97203

Call in Orders:  (503)522-4012

Catering:  (503)310-9480


Pattie’s Homeplate Café & Fountain

Pattie's Homeplate Cafe and Fountain, St. Johns The namesake proprietor grew up in St. Johns and used to spend her typical 1950’s Saturday sitting at the fountain here slurping Orange Julius.  Two doors down, the owner of the fencing center says he’s seen a photograph of Pattie when she was a kid sitting at the tables and chairs outside – the exact same tables and chairs that are there today.

All grown up, Pattie bought the place with her husband, Gene, and expanded the deli into a café.  They serve exactly what you would expect they would in a place that still holds sock hops every first and third Saturday of the month.

Pattie’s Homeplate Café & Fountain

8501 N. Lombard Street

Portland, OR 97203

(503) 289-7285

Signal Station Pizza

Signal Station Pizza, St. Johns The antique gas pumps are still out front.  The service bay door into the garage still rolls up.  And inside, what else?  Pizza!  You can enjoy the warmer months inside the “garage” or at tables set up just outside.  And word on the street is they’ve got good rep.

Serving pizza by the slice or whole pie, Signal Station also makes sandwiches and salads and scoops up Blue Bunny ice cream.

Signal Station Pizza

Hours:  Tues-Thurs 11:30-8:30, Fri-Sat 11:30-9:00, Sun 4:00-8:00

8302 N. Lombard Street

Portland, OR 97203

(503) 286-2257

Blue Moon Camera and Machine

Blue Moon Camera, St. Johns In the market for that latest digital SLR? Or maybe you’re just in the mood to talk mega pixels?  Not in St.. Johns you’re not and certainly not at Blue Moon.  Purists down to their last shutter, each and every Blue Moon staff member is a photographer first, clerk second, and they do traditional film the traditional way.

On the equipment sales’ side of the business, they carry the best vintage: ‘60s, ‘70s, and early‘80s.  And processing Blue Moon style means high quality optical printing that requires hands-on, one negative at a time attention, focusing optical light through each individual frame.

In addition to keeping tradition, Blue Moon has also made one in these parts.  As they see literally every exposure their customers submit, the staff sets aside a few favorites for an annual customer show that has become so popular that this year there’s an encore presentation.

Blue Moon Camera and Machine

8417 N. Lombard Street

Portland, OR 97203

(503) 978-0333


Greg's, St. Johns

The name doesn’t give away much, but a simple title would have its hands full trying to nail down this store’s contents.  Instead of slinging the shopping “E” word – “eclectic” – manager Michael Talley refers to the establishment as an “all inclusive gift shop.”  Cards to fountains, the inventory will soon also boast a nursery with garden supplies and garden art.


8218 N. Lombard Street

Portland, OR 97203

(503) 289-7510


The Man’s Shop

The Man's Shop, St. Johns

“Meet us and be well dressed,” was the slogan started 67 years ago by Ben and Jean Leveton.  Their sons, Bob and Jerry, have run the operation for many years now, and The Man’s Shop remains the place for smart attire, as well as casual, in the neighborhood that made them who they are.

Though the family has always had a St. Johns presence, once upon a time they also owned a second location in Jantzen each.  There they won the “Friendliest Store in the Shopping Center” so many years in a row that the trophy was finally retired with their name on it.  What bearing does that have on their business today?  According to the brothers, they learned what it meant to run a truly friendly shop from St. Johns– and that’s right where they continue to do so.

Suits, shirts, ties, tuxes, and even tee’s and jeans, The Man’s Shop has a tremendous inventory in addition to their share of smiles.

The Man’s Shop

8511 N. Lombard Street

Portland, OR 97203

(503) 286-3514


Tulip Pastry Shop

Tulip Pastry Shop, St. Johns

Making St. Johns smell good since 1950, Tulip Pastry Shop still bakes every last morsel like they did 57 years ago –from scratch.  In the business for so long, Melodie Presler of its third generation can’t smell any of her family’s sweeter concoctions anymore, but it’s worth it for cakes that are legendary, custard – also from scratch – that is a conversation piece, and a Marionberry stuffed cookie that will demand your complete attention.

Tulip Pastry Shop

8322 N. Lombard Street

Portland, OR 97203

(503) 286-3444

Vinyl Resting Place

Vinyl Resting Place, St. Johns

Vintage vinyl + historic St. Johns = no brainer. Owners Toby Tobiason and Pat Smith, Vinyl Magnate and Vinyl Design respectively, specialize in jazz, folk, and blues records but also carry much more.  Simply stated, they “buy and sell interesting records.”

They like the old sound, and they like the old way. Pat likens their store to any mom ‘n pop shop you’d find in the 50s.  And why shouldn’t she? Doing it the vintage way, her commute consists of walking and waving to the neighbors who frequent the shop so often they have their pictures, like family, hung in a collage on the wall.

Vinyl Resting Place

8332 N. Lombard Street

Portland, OR 97203

(503) 247-9573


Weir’s Cyclery

Wier's Cyclery, St. Johns

Before biking was Portland chic.  Heck, practically before God created the seventh day so that the entire city could go biking – there was Weir’s Cyclery. Saddling bipeds on two wheels since 1925, Weir’s is the oldest in the city.  Passed from father to son a couple of times, Weir’s is in its third generation with Steve, who specializes in Specialized and Raleigh, and of course the traditional Red Line for the BMX crowd.

In reality, not a word needs to be written about these folks.  They’ve been thriving for 82 years in the crazy obsessed Portland bike culture.  ‘Nuff said.

Weir’s Cyclery

5036 N. Lombard Street

Portland, OR 97203

(503) 283-3883


Fencing Center – Salle Trois Armes

Salle Trois Armes, St. Johns

A classic sport for a classic neighborhood –it’s a classic fit.  Coach Rocky Beach and Maitre d’Armes, Delmar Calvert, who received his first fencing master’s degree while serving in the French Foreign Legion, offer traditional as well as Olympic-style sport fencing training for both genders, all ages.

The story goes that Coach Beach used to live in St. Johns in its earlier heyday and believed it would be the right spot to which to return to establish his beloved fencing center.  At that time, however, the area had suffered a few setbacks, and his shop lights were the only ones on the street still bright come nighttime.  But Rocky believed if he just kept those bulbs burning, other proprietors would eventually come.  Suffice to say that Kevin Costner and a cornfield have nothing on Rocky Beach and Portland’s St.Johns neighborhood.

Fencing Center– Salle Trois Armes

8517 N. Lombard Street

Portland, OR 97203

(503) 285-2962


St. Johns Theater — Not to be confused with the McMenamin’s Theater and Pub. This awesome old movie house serves pizza and beer, good coffee and general movie snacks all for prices you don’t find in movie theaters. There are theaters up and downstairs but potential patrons should take note that the top theater screen is much smaller and the seating a little awkward. The bottom theater is stunning and every seat is a good seat.

Thanks to our contributing authors to the St. Johns page, local residents Kelly Tadlock and C. Smith.

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What Other Visitors Have Said

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Heaven’s Archives & Po’Shettes  
Heaven’s Archives offers antiques and collectibles, glass, rugs and furniture, antique restoration and repair, and redesign services. The business also …

Girasole Wood Fired Café celebrated 1 year in business on January 14th, 2012 
Owned and operated by Emily Andrews (33 yrs old) and Brittany Cavallero (25 yrs old) in the heart of St. Johns, it has quickly become a home for many neighbors. …

Portland’s Oldest Community Newspaper was founded in St Johns in 1904 
St Johns can be proud that Portland’s oldest community newspaper, the St. Johns Review, has had continual publications for almost 109 years, It was founded …

St Johns Review Newspaper 
St. Johns has had their own newspaper for 107 years. It is the oldest community newspaper in Portland. While it accepts advertising to pay for the publication …

Under the St. John’s Bridge 
A great place to be!

St. John’s Parade 
The St. John’s Parade has an official web site now at http://www.stjohnsparade.com Check it out.

Posted on February 11, 2019 at 3:04 pm
Brian Johnson | Category: Architecture, Arts and Culture, Bars, Hotel/Bed & Breakfast, Portland, Real Estate

Why I love Portland! Portland Japanese Garden



Photo by Robbie Robinson

Inspired in the late 1950s by growing cultural ties between Oregon and Japan, Mayor Terry Schrunk and members of the Portland community conceived the idea of building a Japanese garden on the site of the old zoo in Washington Park. Their reasons for building a Japanese garden were twofold: providing the citizens of Portland with a garden of great beauty and serenity, while forging a healing connection to Japan on the heels of World War II. At this time in U.S. history, Japanese gardens were founded across the country as a way to build cultural understanding. Needing no translation, an American could experience firsthand Japanese ideals and values, communicated simply through nature.

The site was dedicated in 1961, and Professor Takuma Tono of Tokyo Agricultural University was retained to design the Garden. Professor Tono’s plan included five different garden styles laid out on 5.5 acres. This was quite a departure from gardens in Japan which typically follow one singular style. His intention was to represent different historical developments in Japanese garden architecture and through that communicate Japanese culture to create a cultural exchange.

In 1967, the Garden formally opened to the public for the summer. Admission was $0.50 for adults and $0.25 for students. That year, more than 28,000 people came before the Garden closed for the winter.

Photo by Robbie Robinson

In 1968, the Kashintei Tea House was constructed in Japan, shipped in pieces, and reassembled in the Garden. Other structures were added as the five gardens evolved. The Pavilion Gallery, which sits at the heart of the Flat Garden, was in Professor Tono’s original plan. However, it was not completed until 1980. (Interestingly, it was dedicated on May 18 – the same day that Mount St. Helens erupted.)

It was not until the winter of 1981/1982 that the Portland Japanese Garden was first kept open year round. In 2015, the Garden partnered with world renowned architect Kengo Kuma as it embarked on a new journey, expanding its footprint to accommodate its rapid visitor growth, as well as its ability to immerse visitors in Japanese arts and culture. Opening in April 2017, the Garden’s new Cultural Village features three new structures, each LEED-certified, existing harmoniously with nature and serving as a mere frame from which to view the exquisite beauty of the surrounding landscape.

Throughout the Garden’s history, it has been acclaimed by a number of visiting Japanese dignitaries as one of the most beautiful and authentic Japanese gardens in the world outside of the island nation, as well as one of the foremost Japanese cultural organizations in North America.

Posted on February 3, 2019 at 10:19 pm
Brian Johnson | Category: Architecture, Arts and Culture, Portland

Why I love Portland! The Metropolitan Youth Symphony

About MYS

Metropolitan Youth Symphony educates, develops and promotes young musicians.About MYS 2

MYS provides music education and performance opportunities for young musicians of all ages and levels of experience. Now in our 44th year, we enroll over 500 youth from the Portland Metro and SW Washington areas in 14 ensembles including orchestra, band, jazz, and percussion. New this season, we are offering an entry level String Orchestra on Saturdays in Hillsboro.  Additionally, MYS offers theory classes, a mid-winter chamber music program, and a one week summer chamber music camp, Portland Summer Ensembles.  Our commitment to access is foundational. MYS has a strong financial aid program that welcomes all students regardless of their financial circumstances, a tuition-free Beginning Strings program with classes on Saturday in Portland and after school in Hillsboro, and a school outreach program that performs 15 in-school concerts each season for over 5,000 students from under-served schools.

MYS Music Director Raul Gomez leads a team of professional conductors and instrumental coaches who work with our students each Saturday at Roseway Heights K-8 in NE Portland and Lincoln Street Elementary in Hillsboro.  We believe that quality music education taught in a supportive but challenging environment gives every student musician the opportunity to be successful.  MYS is one of the largest youth orchestra programs in the nation and one of only a handful offering a jazz program.

Lajos Balogh MYS FounderThe History of MYS

Metropolitan Youth Symphony was founded in 1974 by Maestro Lajos Balogh with 16 string players and the group grew quickly to 35 members by their first performance in 1975. MYS was founded on the belief that the study of music is an integral part of a childbecoming a well-rounded adult. Not only does music promote intellectual and aesthetic knowledge, it also builds leadership skills and creates a supportive, community environment.

Founded in response to the community’s need for musical enrichment, MYS has:

  • Contributed the musical development of over ten thousand musicians
  • Performed hundreds of youth concerts all over the northwest
  • Performed outreach concerts to thousands of students in under-served schools
  • Embarked on tours around the world
  • Awarded tuition assistance to every young musician in need
  • Developed volunteer support that incorporates more than 100 people in many different capacities
Posted on January 10, 2019 at 11:33 pm
Brian Johnson | Category: Architecture, Arts and Culture, Portland, Real Estate, Restaurants | Tagged , , , ,

Why I love Portland! Mission Theater

Walking down NW Glisan Street at 17th offers few hints about the intriguing past of the Mission Theater. The building’s straightforward, brick construction and fortress-like entryway make it appear more like an armory than a theater. It should come as no surprise, then, that the Mission was not originally built as a theater or playhouse, but as a church. For over 40 years it was the religious and social center of Portland’s humble and devout Swedish Mission Covenant congregation. Later, the space served as a very busy labor meeting hall. The remarkable transformation from church to union hall, and from union hall to Oregon’s first theater pub is a colorful story that stretches back more than a century. This building, now listed in the National Register of Historic Places, was dedicated by the Swedish Evangelical Mission Covenant Church of Portland on February 18, 1912. The Swedish Mission constructed it to replace a more traditional woodframed church that had stood here for a decade before. The congregation—at the time numbering more than 200—had outgrown the limited space of
the old wooden church and desired a larger, more accommodating structure. The new abernacle,
today’s Mission Theater, was intentionally styled as a commercial space. Designed by a few of the parish members, it was felt that a utilitarian plan would make the church more marketable should they continue to grow and find a need to vacate. Indeed, the Mission Covenant of Portland had grown steadily and quickly since its beginnings. Formed in 1887 by a half-dozen Swedish immigrants, the church group outgrew their rented downtown meeting spaces almost immediately. By 1891 they were searching for a suitable place of their own, and they purchased
the lot at NW 17th and Glisan. Later that same year, the Swedish Mission constructed their original wooden church. The supreme activity of the church was missionary work, a responsibility reserved for only those who felt a special calling. Over the years, missions were sponsored all over the world, most notably in the Alaskan Yukon, Africa and China. For 41 years, the Swedish Tabernacle played a pivotal role in the lives of many SwedishAmericans throughout Portland, and the church was the pride and joy of their community. Sundays were elaborate affairs: Sunday school, morning services, choir, food in the basement and an evening
evangelistic service. The services, given in Swedish until the 1940s, typically attracted 500 to 700 people. But the Mission was much more than just a place for Sunday gatherings. Everyday life and socializing was encouraged as a way to provide a sense of fellowship and belonging. Periodically, young members traveled to the county poor farm (now McMenamins Edgefield) to present programs for the less fortunate. The Tabitha Ladies Society organized social services and
supported missionaries abroad. The Covenant Women’s Society and the Young People’s Society
were very active in the community. Churchsponsored baseball games and sit-down dinners
always brought large crowds. Music was a vital component of the Swedish Church, and the most
popular social activity was the teenage choir. It was this combination of religious tradition and
community cohesiveness that made the Swedish Tabernacle such a special place for its members. Given the strong devotion to their church work and indeed their church, why did the
congregation abandon their spiritual center in 1954? This time the neighborhood was the issue
rather than space. The area had become more industrial, parking was next to impossible and
concern developed for the safety of women and children who walked to the church alone. For their new site, the Church chose a spot at NE 45th and E. •1624 NW Glisan, Portland, OR, 97209. mcmenamins.com• (Courtesy First Covenant) Burnside where they continue to worship today. The new tenants at 17th and Glisan were dockworkers, a spirited but less pious group than the church members. The transfer from evangelical church to longshoreman meeting hall brought some jarring adjustments: religious symbols were pulled down, pews and pulpit emoved, the floor overlaid with linoleum. To be sure, the old Tabernacle was suddenly introduced to words and notions never before uttered within its walls. Still, therei were some
things that remained very much the same. Like its previous occupants, the union workers brought a strong sense of community and activism to the hall. During the Longshoremen’s
occupancy, the building was busier than ever before, used for union business, regular meetings and conducting daily hiring. Local No. 8 held monthly meetings every second Wednesday of the month. The union suspended all work on the waterfront on these nights to allow every longshoreman the chance to attend. Hiring took place at the hall twice a day, once for the day shift and again for the night, and scores of union members congregated here to view the hiring board and wait for their new assignments. The building was particularly significant during the 1971 Longshoremen’s strike. The coastwide strike was the longest and arguably the most successful dock strike in U.S. history, and, for local No. 8, this place was at the core of its
success. During the strike the main floor became a clearinghouse of information, directing workers where to picket and keeping them updated on the daily progress of negotiations. The basement was used to store and distribute dry foods to the many striking workers. It was during this turbulent time that the controversial president and founder of the Union, Harry Bridges, and the vice president, Bill Chester, came here to the hall to speak with the workers. In 1982, Local No. 8 moved out of the old church building, after which the place became a storage warehouse called the Columbia River Building. Late in 1986 or early ’87, a local acting
troupe called the Heart Theater reintroduced art and entertainment to the place (this time with no religious associations). While this noble endeavor fell short of its mark, closing its doors after only about a year, the notion proved a great one and paved the way for its next incarnation.
In June 1987, McMenamins debuted its Mission Theater and Pub, an establishment that
preached the merits of watching movies and drinking beer. Despite its inspired calling, the
Mission Theater was far from an instant success. The film festivals that were intended to carry the venue—the Bogart Extravaganza, for example— were busts. Nobody came. So the concept was retooled and the Mission began showing secondrun movies for cheap. “Cheap” struck a chord with some and the Mission, once again, began to fill with people. The Mission now embodies all of its previous forms. The blurring of the secular and the sacred is a recurring theme throughout its history, and in the fall of 2003 a community church began
holding their Sunday services here. The theater recalls the art of the short-lived acting company
and the pub evokes the longshoremen’s pastimes. The building also houses McMenamins’ company headquarters and functions as a hiring hall of sorts. Although McMenamins’ spirited message is quite different from the Mission’s original occupants, we encourage you to spend time at the beautifully preserved church and reconnect with the spirit that resides within.

Posted on January 3, 2019 at 5:57 pm
Brian Johnson | Category: Portland

Why I love Portland! Green Zebra Grocery


We love great food
Who doesn’t? And at Green Zebra that’s where it all starts. We carefully source the best local and organic food around, and we stock it right alongside everyday staples. Our in-store kitchens craft hot and delicious grab-and-go meals made from scratch, as well as custom and signature sandwiches. We have a full-service coffee bar, hot breakfasts, and tasty pastries delivered everyday from local bakeries. Our beer and cider is 100% Oregon; our wines are thoughtfully selected and all under $20 a bottle. We pack all that into a small, convenient layout that makes it easy to get in and out fast.

We love community
Our small-footprint lets us serve communities where big stores can’t fit. We get to know our neighbors, and we take pride in supporting a thriving community:
• Every month we donate money, food, and service to nonprofits within two miles of our stores.
• We offer discounts to shoppers who bike or walk to the stores and to shoppers who bring their own bags or coffee cup.
• We support our local economy by sourcing from local growers and makers.
• We further support our local economy and our staff by paying higher than minimum wage salaries.

And we’re on a mission
Green Zebra Grocery is on a mission to increase access to healthy food. The brainchild of grocery vet Lisa Sedlar, Green Zebra opened it’s first store in Portland’s Kenton neighborhood in 2013. Since then, the company has worked with nearly 100 local nonprofits to support the community, and has brought a selection of locally sourced, delicious food to more Portlanders. Green Zebra opened its second store in the Lloyd District in April 2016, and our Portland State University Store opened in February 2017. Our next store, on SE Division in Portland is scheduled to open in early 2019.

Posted on December 14, 2018 at 11:59 pm
Brian Johnson | Category: Portland | Tagged , , ,

Why I love Portland!

Image result for Pictures of the Cathedral Bridge

The St. Johns Bridge is a steel suspension bridge that spans the Willamette River in Portland, Oregon, United States, between the Cathedral Park Neighborhood in North Portland and the Linnton and Northwest Industrial neighborhoods in Northwest Portland. It carries the U.S. Route 30 Bypass. It is the only suspension bridge in the Willamette Valley and one of three public highway suspension bridges in Oregon.

The bridge has a 1,207-foot (368 m) center span and a total length of 2,067 feet (630 m). It is the tallest bridge in Portland, with two 400-foot-tall (120 m) towers and a 205-foot (62 m) navigational clearance. The adjacent park and neighborhood of Cathedral Park are named after the Gothic Cathedral-like appearance of the bridge towers.

Designed by internationally renowned engineer David B. Steinman (1886–1960) and Holton D. Robinson, of New York, the St. Johns was the longest suspension-type bridge west of the Mississippi River at the time of construction. It is the only major highway suspension bridge in the Willamette Valley and one of only three major highway suspension bridges in Oregon.

Posted on November 14, 2018 at 11:56 pm
Brian Johnson | Category: Architecture, Portland