Hawthorne Blvd. history celebrated with plaques and street fair

Next time you visit the area, check out the history – and new renovations – along Hawthorne Boulevard …

Linda Nettekoven, vice chair, Hosford Abernathy Neighborhood Association; Jean Senechal Biggs, project manager, City of Portland; Karin Edwards, president, Hawthorne Blvd. Business Association; John Laursen, owner Press 22, and designer of the bronze plaques; and Portland Commissioner Sam Adams all take a peek at one of the monuments installed on Hawthorne Boulevard – one at the Multnomah County building, the other at SE 36th Street.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
After almost a decade of planning, and a year of construction, the merchants along the street celebrated the completion of the Hawthorne Boulevard Project with proclamations and a street fair on August 18.

When we met at the unveiling their historical monument, Karin Edwards, president of the Hawthorne Boulevard Business Association, told us why she’s pleased with the project’s outcome.

“Hawthorne is a very ‘green minded’ business community. Our customers prefer to bike, walk and bus when possible,” said Edwards. “And, everyone who drives to visit Hawthorne Boulevard parks their car – and becomes a pedestrian. So, pedestrian-oriented improvements really help the entire business and shopping community. We feel that increased safety is good for everyone, and it’s good for business.”

Edwards told us their association’s all-volunteer board helped guide the project. “Our goal was to maximize the positive benefits for customers and businesses. Our previous two presidents have provided excellent leadership.”

Lisa Naito and Sam Adams present their proclamations – one from the county, the other from the city – commending the improvements made to SE Hawthorne Blvd. and declaring August 18 as “Hawthorne Day”.

Two commissioners present proclamations
Both City of Portland Commissioner Sam Adams and Multnomah County Commissioner Lisa Naito were on hand to celebrate the boulevard’s beatification project.

“This is a glorious day,” Adams told us, as he – and district leaders – took a sneak peek at the historical monument about to be dedicated. “Hawthorne Boulevard is one of our key neighborhood business districts. With this project, they got new sidewalks, safer street crossing areas, and new sewers. This helps make Hawthorne Boulevard a better place to live, work and play.”

Lisa Naito added, “The historical plaque is an artful addition to our County building. We’re very proud to be part of the Hawthorne Community.”

Hawthorne Boulevard historical medallion’s designer, John Laursen, talks about the project, while Commissioner Sam Adams shows off the handiwork.

Says medallions are opposite of graffiti
In addition to the historical monuments, artist John Laursen designed the medallions that are embedded in many of the sidewalk extensions.

“It was struggle at times, to make sure the funding would be there, and that the project would get built as designed by the citizen’s advisory committee,” Laursen told the group. “We had the idea of including aesthetic improvements, to give added value to government expenditures. These medallions are like the opposite of graffiti – by putting these in our sidewalks, it is our way of saying ‘we care about his place’.”

Officials from the City of Portland and Multnomah County, Mt. Tabor Neighborhood Association, and the Hawthorne Boulevard Business Association together cut the ceremonial ribbon dedicating a “bicycle oasis”, built with funds provided by the production company which shot the motion picture “The Hunted” here, two years ago.

Hawthorne Day Street Fair
Enjoy our photo journal of the day-long event …

Entertaining kids during Hawthorne Days are members of Circus Cascadia, including Paul Battram – who shows Zoe how to balance on a ball, with a little help from dad Andrew Mottaz.

This Hawthorne retailer serves the community by grilling up free hot dogs – both meat and vegetarian varieties – for those passing by.

Street sales along the boulevard attracted hundreds of shoppers.

Music – from sidewalk duos, like these guys, the “Slim Pickin’s Duo”, to full bands – provided a merry soundtrack for the event.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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