Exploring the Roseway Neighborhood / by Chris Bonner

credit: Don Welty

credit: Don Welty

Roseway is a roughly square-shaped neighborhood in Northeast Portland. Northeast 82nd Avenue, the marker of Portland city limits in the early 1900s, is the eastern boundary. Northeast Sacramento and Northeast Siskiyou streets run the length of two parks–Glenhaven and Rose City–with Rose City Golf Course between them, forming the southern boundary. The western edge is mostly NE 65th with a small dogleg at NE Fremont over to NE 62nd up to the northern border NE Prescott.

The majority of Roseway is single-family residences, most built between 1920 and 1950, and mature trees line nearly every street. Sandy Boulevard cuts diagonally through the heart of Roseway and serves as its primary commercial corridor. The two primary TriMet bus routes servicing the neighborhood are #12 and #33. The Max Lightrail is nearby too, with a station just to the south at NE 82nd and NE Halsey.

Residents have easy access to I-84 and I-205 freeways in addition to proximity to Portland International Airport. The Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area is just a short drive away via I-84 providing incredible access to hiking trails and some of the most beautiful natural terrain in the state of Oregon.

Amenities

There are three schools in Roseway, Scott Elementary, Roseway Heights Middle School, which has been a school since 1911, and Madison High School.

In the northwest corner of Roseway, adjacent to Scott Elementary is Wellington Park with an assortment of majestic trees, an updated play structure, a soccer field and walking paths. Glenhaven Park is on the exact opposite corner of the neighborhood, serving as its southeastern boundary. At nearly 16 acres, Glenhaven has the space for more sports facilities. There are soccer and baseball fields, a tennis court, a skate park, and ample walking paths. Both Wellington and Glenhaven parks occasionally host live music and outdoor movies in the summer months.

A third, unofficial neighborhood park is the 72nd Avenue Park Blocks that run from NE Sandy Boulevard all the way to NE Prescott (the northern boundary of the neighborhood). On a clear day, as you wander north towards NE Prescott, you have a beautiful view of the Columbia River.

History

The history of Roseway in many ways is the history of Sandy Boulevard. Sandy used to be a Native American Trail connecting Troutdale to east 16th Avenue during the Settlement Era. The route was a way for Oregon Trail immigrants to travel overland from farms to the markets in Portland and East Portland. In the early 1900s the section of Sandy between 28th and 82nd Avenues became a city street; paved in 1912-13, streetcar tracks doubled, and the Sandy trail became a boulevard.

Many of the buildings along the Roseway stretch of NE Sandy date back to the days when the streetcar was new and popular. Before the construction of the Interstates, Sandy served as a state highway. Throughout the 1920s the commercial corridor continued to evolve into a robust urban strip. In the following decades, businesses followed residents, moving out of downtown to these newer suburban strips that, like Sandy Boulevard, became the central area of commerce.

In 1923 the Shriners built a beautiful hospital, known in Portland as the Old Shriners Children’s Hospital to serve children with orthopedic conditions, spinal cord injuries, burns, and cleft lip and palates. The building was situated at 82nd Avenue–the gateway to Portland–and earned a spot on the National Historic Register in 1989. The building was taken down in 2004, and now the site is home to a living complex offering affordable care to seniors.

It was big news when Fred Meyer opened a store between NE Sandy and Fremont at NE 69th Street. One Roseway resident famously refused to sell their property to Fred Meyer, and thus the store was built up around the home. The opening was a memorable event with a carnival-like atmosphere including a Ferris wheel in the parking lot! Safeway took over the property in 1991, removing and relocating the lone residence to a neighborhood in North Portland, and remains in business there today.

In 2002, the Roseway Neighborhood Association conducted an in-depth study to develop a future vision for the neighborhood. The process brought residents together to identify goals for the neighborhood and generate ideas about how to bring those goals to fruition. The focus was on maintaining a pedestrian-safe, community feeling in the neighborhood’s commercial areas including sections of Sandy Boulevard, and smaller hubs like Prescott & 72nd and Fremont & 62nd. 

Roseway is an engaged community. Residents are participating in plans for development with a commitment to maintaining a positive neighborhood experience.

Points of Interest

A couple of the original buildings from early development along Sandy Boulevard are not only attractive architectural and historic sites, but they are also places to visit just for fun.

The Roseway Theater opened in 1924 with a 600-seat capacity and was a central hub of activity and socializing. Some residents in Roseway still remember the early days where you could pay with just a couple coins to see a picture. In the 1950s the building underwent its first remodel but with years of steady use, again became worn and dated. Lucky for the neighborhood, Greg Wood–grandson of a film editor, son of a director in Sony’s engineering department–had his eye out for an old theater he could invest in and operate. He learned the ropes at the Liberty Theater in Camas, WA and when he heard the Roseway was available in 2008, he decided he was ready to strike out on his own.

Wood restored the art deco details of the building, maintained the single screen structure of the theater but reduced the number of seats from 500 to 330 to allow for greater comfort with more legroom. He also upgraded the projection and sound equipment to the highest current standard so the theater would continue to be a desirable destination for movie buffs and sentimentalists alike.

Fairley’s Pharmacy is a reminder that pharmacies used to be fun and functional. Constructed in 1913 at the junction of SE Sandy and Fremont, the building is triangular, coming to a narrow point at the corner. Walking into this pharmacy is like stepping back in time. There are some activities to keep you busy while the staff fills your prescriptions. Saddle up to the soda fountain counter and enjoy a sundae, milkshake, malted, egg cream, or phosphate soda. You can also pass the time gazing at their assortment of vintage pharmacy equipment and old advertisements for things of the past like cocaine tooth drops and asthma cigarettes.

Exploring the Neighborhood

Roseway is a lovely place to spend a sunny afternoon wandering around, admiring the variety of architecture and the many beautifully kept gardens. If you begin in Glen Haven Park and walk the length of the Rose City Golf Course on Sacramento, you will see so many treetops that you might forget you’re in the middle of a city. Taking a right on 70th Avenue makes for a pleasant, winding route through the southern part of the neighborhood up to Sandy Boulevard.

Try out a class at Roseway Yoga (SE 65th) or stop by Kainos Coffee (SE 66th) a bright, cheerful spot with delicious coffee, pastries, and a purpose. Owners Marten Boyden and Austin Roberts started Kainos in part because they love coffee, and also to fulfill their desire to give back. Boyden has taken numerous trips to the Philippines where he volunteers with Life Child Asia Foundation, an organization working to get orphaned children off the streets and into homes that feel more like homes than institutions. Kainos donates 21% of their profits to the organization every month.

Explore the community of Asian restaurants along the stretch of Sandy Boulevard that runs through Roseway. Start with the well-known pho powerhouse Pho An (SE 63rd), and continue to MeKha Noodles (SE 66th) which the Oregonian declared the makers of Portland’s Best pho in 2016. If it’s too early for pho, try the Cameo Cafe (SE 82nd), an old-school diner for the past quarter of a century, serves American fare with a Korean twist like kimchi hash and pindaettok, an eggy Korean pancake with scallions, bean sprouts, and carrots

Take the whole family out for a walk on the 72nd Avenue park blocks followed by a drink or a bite at Roseway Play Cafe. You can enjoy a coffee or a glass of wine while your kids check out the 800 square foot play area. Afterward, you can scoot over a few blocks to the Roseway Theater for a movie.

Roseway has seen decades of change, especially along Sandy Boulevard, but there are still some old-timer holdouts that will make you feel like the important things have not changed. If you’re seeking comfort, stop in at neighborhood staple Annie’s Donuts (SE 72nd) where you will find the familiar lineup of old favorites and a baker’s dozen won’t break the bank.

 

Roseway at a glance

Population: 8,982

Households: 3,865

Owned: 2,810 (72.7%)

Rented: 1,055 (27.3%)

Household: 2.32 persons (average)

Census Data

Neighborhood Map

Roseway Neighborhood Association

Roseway Neighborhood Facebook Group