Sunday, August 18, 2013

Albina Triangle expedition

Albina Triangle
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Today's adventure takes us to the little triangle formed by N. Mississippi & Albina Avenues & N. Prescott Street, commonly known as the "Albina Triangle". Except by its owner, the Portland Development Commission, which likes to call it "4500 Albina", I guess because they prefer names that sound like condo towers.

These photos are actually from wayyy back in 2007 when the place was under construction. I couldn't find enough info about the place back then to make a blog post worth doing, at least according to my standards at the time. Then I forgot about the place until just recently, when I ran across these photos in an old iPhoto library. I debated whether I needed to go back and take a few updated photos, since obviously the park doesn't look like this anymore. It feels like that would've been the responsible, journalistic thing to do. But I didn't feel like making a special trip just to do that, so Google Street View is your friend if you want a more contemporary look at the place.

Links-wise, we have a handful of items from across the interwebs:

Albina Triangle

The library's Oregonian database doesn't have a lot to say about this spot. An item in the May 27th 1910 Oregonian mentions that Mississippi Avenue was soon to be a paved road all the way north to distant Prescott St., and the newly paved segment would even get a modern underground water main. I'm not sure Prescott was exactly the northern border between civilization and howling wilderness in 1910, but the city didn't see an immediate need for modern city services beyond that point. It's possible there was a wall of ice and dragons on the north side of Prescott back then, although the article fails to mention that detail. In any event, I like to think this justifies using the word "expedition" in the title of this post.

The rest of the items in the database consist of real estate ads, lost pet notices, and a string of auto accidents thru the 1940s and 1950s, with people repeatedly failing to negotiate the gentle bend between Mississippi and Albina avenues, and crashing into houses and telephone poles and so forth. None of them were reported as DUI accidents, but considering the era it just sort of stands to reason that at least some of them were. The string of car crashes might also explain why there was no longer a house on the site when the new park went in. The newspaper historical record is unclear on that point. The idea's appealing because it makes for a nice tidy historical anecdote that way, but I have zero actual evidence on hand.

Albina Triangle

A park owned by the PDC is kind of odd, but it's not the only example I've seen. Block 47 near the Convention Center is also PDC-owned, but it was also intended to be a temporary space, and the Albina Triangle doesn't look temporary. It's hard to see anyone building condos or an office block on this little triangle, and boosting property values of existing buildings isn't usually what the PDC does, so I'm not sure what their endgame is here. Maybe they're stuck with it because the Parks Bureau didn't want it or couldn't afford to adopt it. Dunno.

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