Saturday, September 06, 2014

Harold Kelley Plaza

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Here are a few photos of Harold Kelley Plaza, the little brick mini-park at NE 42nd & Sandy. It was created in 1984 when the city closed off a short stretch of Hancock St. This was intended as a traffic improvement, to help sort out one of the many awkward intersections caused by Sandy's uneven diagonal course through the Portland street grid. The city decided to create a public plaza here instead of just vacating the right of way for real estate development; at the time the central Hollywood District had no public open space at all, and even now this tiny plaza is the only one. And even this isn't really a city park; it's still legally the Hancock St. right-of-way, so I'm not sure who's in charge of trimming the trees and emptying the trash cans.

The plaza was soon named in honor of Harold Kelley, longtime owner of a nearby appliance store, head of the local booster association, and unofficial "Mayor of the Hollywood District".

The triangular mini-block between the plaza and Sandy Boulevard is home to one tiny building, the historic Hollywood Burger Bar. I've never been there, but a post at Portland Hamburgers says it's been there since the 1950s, and the building was originally built as a streetcar ticket kiosk.

The plaza features a gold star design on the 42nd side of the plaza, because of the whole Hollywood thing. Strangely enough, the neighborhood apparently takes its name from the nearby historic rococo movie palace. It used the name first, and the neighborhood around the Hollywood Theater eventually became known as the Hollywood District. It's an unusual way to name a neighborhood, but hey.

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