Excerpt from The Oregonian:
Before there were densely packed, redeveloped shopping hubs along North Mississippi Avenue, Alberta Street or Division Street, there was the Hawthorne district.
The four-lane, heavily trafficked Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard was the first inner-Portland street to be transformed from its blue-collar roots into a foot traffic-friendly blend of boutiques, specialty shops, bookstores and restaurants, setting a pattern that has since been followed across the city.
Where the changes that have come to Alberta and Mississippi, for example, have raised concerns about gentrification as longtime, lower-income residents find themselves priced out of their neighborhoods, the evolution of Hawthorne has been more gradual and more organic.
Though the more affluent Mount Tabor neighborhood anchors the far east end of Hawthorne, the central core of the Hawthorne district is historically a working-class area. For decades, the businesses on the boulevard served Sunnyside and Buckman residents. A Bureau of Planning 2003 study of the area's history noted that the 1940s and 1950s saw a major change in "the growth of local bars and taverns ... This type of commerce, especially abundant between Southeast 34th and Southeast 37th, catered to the increasing working-class residents during and immediately after World War II."
By the 1980s, Hawthorne was beginning to see a few changes, as blue-collar taverns began giving way to specialty stores. Barbara Tom, co-owner of Murder by the Book, recalls Hawthorne's grittier days, back when the bookstore opened in 1983.
"I remember that very clearly," Tom says of the divey watering holes that used to populate the boulevard. Her store, which specializes in mysteries, was first located near 37th Avenue, and later moved closer to 32nd.
Since then, Tom says, "it's gotten more upscale, but not too upscale, as far as I'm concerned."