Sunday, November 15, 2009

North Mississippi Street

Long ago North Mississippi Street, in North Portland, was part of the thriving community of Albina, Oregon. Albina became part of Portland and as the years went by it got more and more grungy and rundown. When we moved to Portland in 1993 this part of town was crime-ridden, tawdry and not a place you wanted to find yourself in, especially at night. Over the past 10 or 12 years the area has once again become a thriving community, with many of the old houses and commercial buildings refurbished and finding new life as small shops and restaurants.

Today a group I am part of took a walking tour of N. Mississippi. We met at the Fresh Pot coffee shop, once a Rexall Drug store, then walked up and down, looking into the wonderful small shops along the way.

The Meadow is the shop I wrote about a couple weeks ago, that sells "artisan salt". I tasted some of the salts they sell. The hickory smoked salt was very smoky. The gray salt tasted like salt with a slight essence of dirt and the volcanic salt I tried was very sulphur-y. Ick. I was not won over to the charms of artisan salt, but I thought the slabs and bowls made from pinkish salt were interesting. They suggested cooking on the slabs and/or chilling the slabs or bowls for serving cheeses or dips, that would pick up a bit of salt flavor.

Many of the old buildings have been beautifully restored and painted wonderful clear, bright colors.

This shop sells all kinds of light bulbs.

I was really attracted to this display of blown glass Christmas ornaments that looked like big, shiny beetles. They were really quite beautiful, but hard to imagine on a Christmas tree.

Beautiful detail on the old buildings.

It was a crisp, white sky Portland day—no rain, but not much sun to speak of either. A good day for an outing. After our walk, we ended the tour at a lot full of food carts and picnic tables for lunch. My bowl of steaming, spicy pozole was delicious. I enjoyed being a tourist in my own city.


  1. I only have animals on my Christmas tree and I LOVE the glass beetles. Could you tell me the name of the business where you saw them?


    Chris in Nova Scotia

  2. I very much recommend the "pinkish salt", because it comes from 200 million years old sites and contains all minerals you find in the seas except the impurities that have been enrichening the oceans, since pollution started. I would not put food into these bowls, because they will dissolve and you don't have proper control over the amount of salt you add to your food. They should better used as lamps.

  3. I've been hearing about the revitalization of the area and your post really makes me want to check it out. All they need now is a cute little quilt shop- and maybe a yarn shop, too! Can you recommend any restaurants in the area? I live on the west side of the Portland area (near the coast range). North Mississippi, here I come!

  4. LOVE the victorian house the light bulb shop is in. I think I would get a couple of the glass beetles and hang them in a window to enjoy all year. I also love anything iridescent.

  5. Chris in Nova Scotia--I am sorry I don't have any idea what shop I saw the beetles in. We were in and out of several along the street.

  6. It is wonderful that areas like this are being reclaimed. That is one of the great things about Portland.

  7. Being a tourist in one's own city is a great idea. I try to do that as much as possible too.

    Eva mentioned using the salt bowls as lamps, and that's exactly what I thought of too. It's very popular in Germany to have a rock shaped salt lamp -- they glow nicely. I've also seen salmon served on salt slabs on the cooking shows.

    I'm trying to imagine those fantastic beetles on a Christmas tree, and I'm thinking it would be wonderfully ironic to have a whole tree full of creepy crawlies! That may be coming from the part of me who is trying to get in the holiday spirit in a very non-Christmassy tropical environment. ;-)

  8. I love what is happening in Northeast Portland. Loved your photos. I think there are some new things since I was last there.

  9. Those beetles look quite a lot like the Australian Christmas Beetle. Their heads are a bit big, but the colours are right. I think they'd make great Christmas tree decorations in this part of the world!