What is the No. 1 reason the editors of Down East Magazine say they love Portland?

It’s not the working waterfront or the First Friday Artwalk, although both of those well-known urban landmarks made the top-50 list.

It was East Bayside, a neighborhood that even some longtime Portland residents don’t know exists or appreciate all it has to offer.

Known in newspaper stories for years as “the foot of Munjoy Hill,” East Bayside packs within its compact borders more diversity than any neighborhood in the city.

Where else can you find stores, restaurants, bars, industrial shops, breweries, a Roman Catholic cathedral and an Islamic center? On weekends in the autumn, it is the site of spirited adult soccer league games with players from all over the world.

The neighborhood has public housing and market-rate housing, both multi-unit and single-family. As housing prices have skyrocketed everywhere else on the peninsula, East Bayside is still affordable. All of this is packed in a square bordered by Congress Street, Washington Avenue, Marginal Way and Franklin Street.

Until recently, East Bayside has not always gotten its due as an interesting place to live, work and spend time. But it has a great history.

Built on wetland that was filled with the rubble from Portland’s Great Fire, it was the home of vibrant ethnic neighborhoods before the urban renewal movement in the 1960s, and houses and shops were torn down to make way for the Kennedy Park housing project and the Franklin Street arterial.

Five years ago, it was seen as a neighborhood in decline, according to the Down East piece, plagued by high crime.

But investment, both public and private in the form of a community policing center, an active neighborhood association and new residents and businesses, have worked together to make East Bayside a place the whole city can be proud of.

East Bayside’s eclectic mix gives hope that it won’t be gentrified like some other neighborhoods. (Would a millionaire want to live next to an electronics shop?)

For now, it’s one of the city’s hidden gems, that is not as hidden as it used to be anymore.


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