Street scenery

By Robert Runyon July 20, 2009


On Saturday, July 11, tens of thousands of revelers from across the city and deep in the suburbs flowed into a half-mile stretch of road at the southern end of North Portland for one of the most popular neighborhood gatherings in the city—the Mississippi Avenue Street Fair.

Despite its artfully bohemian exterior, Mississippi Avenue has been a district of some contention due to the rapid gentrification taking place. The historically poor neighborhood experienced a real-estate resurgence during the last 10 years after decades of low property values and crime. Now, with more well-to-do people moving in, some of the area’s long-term residents are being forced out.

This fact literally loomed over the festival, as shade from the ninety-degree heat was provided by multi-story condo high rises being constructed up and down Mississippi, while at each end of the street, fairgoers could check out live acts performing every conceivable variety of popular music, from the twangiest of country to the rhymiest of rap. In between was a smorgasbord of activity, with plenty to eat, drink, and do, with almost all of the proceeds going to charitable causes such as helping the Boise-Eliot Elementary School or Urban Opportunities, a group that teaches at-risk kids marketable skills for their future.

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