Salon-> trendy restaurant-> clothing boutique: wash, rinse and repeat. It might as well be the motto for our most pretentious street in the Portland city limits. With an overwhelming amount of business targeting West/Nob Hill clientele, NW 23rd Ave. has become Portland’s Rodeo drive. When I say Rodeo drive, I of course mean the tattooed/greasy/tight black pants hipster version. Now on to the inconvenient truth about NW 23rd.
Attention needs to be directed towards 23rd’s dying street infrastructure. Potholes grow here like acne on a 9th grader. Avoid this stretch of street at all costs due to the sinking pavement between Burnside and Thurman. Major road improvements have been suggested, but ultimately shot down due to neighborhood concerns. Can you imagine construction shutting down even one lane between Lovejoy/Johnson? Traffic would be forced to detour through Nob Hill neighborhoods! Businesses dig in their high heels to any long term solutions as the ensuing drop in customer traffic would financially cripple the owners who face rising building rental/lease rates.
Besides the sinking road grade, pedestrians and bicyclists also feel a weird sense of entitlement USUALLY disobeying posted road signs and street crossings. As if potholes weren’t enough, you now must dodge a constant stream of shopping enthusiasts looking to be seen on 23rd.
As the big retailers and chain restaurants are drawn to the 23rd area, the smaller shops are pushed out and some of the originality that distinguished the area is lost. There are now several chunks of empty storefronts as you meander down 23rd. The Pearl is now getting the larger chain restaurants and stores, and Hawthorne is getting the trendier, cheaper, funkier businesses.
As the NW 23rd ave sinks, eventually the street and its market, will lose its unique flavor. NW 23rd will bottom out… literally, sinking into a deep dark abyss. Potholes, peds armed with strollers, dogs, red turtle shells and banana peels, you are looking at the real life Mario Kart.