Foster Powell neighborhood covers 565 acres and is the only triangle-shaped neighborhood in Portland. The area was sparsely populated by homesteaders when Phillip Foster arrived in the Oregon Territory in 1843. His wife, Mary Charlotte Pettygrove, happened to be the sister of Portland’s then mayor, Francis W. Pettygrove. The Fosters established a business selling merchandise in the city and also owned a farm at Eagle Creek. The main commercial corridor, Foster Road, is one of Portland’s three diagonal thoroughfares–Cully, Sandy & Foster–that originated as Indian pathways.
Most of Foster Powell was farmland before the arrival of the streetcar and the Interurban line. The 50th Avenue & Foster Road streetcar was completed in 1892 and it was the beginning of a transformation of the neighborhood from a pastoral area with farm and woodlands to a “streetcar suburb” of Portland. As Portland became more crowded in the early 20th century, more residents sought affordable housing just outside of the city. This is how Foster Powell begin to grow.
Foster road evolved from a dirt track used by farmers to transport their goods to the widest road in Portland, inspired by the wide impressive boulevards of Paris. The prevalence of the automobile further expanded the development of homes, schools, churches, and businesses beyond the streetcar line. Foster Road became and remains the social and commercial hub of the neighborhood. Foster Powell, Mt Scott-Arleta, and South Tabor were all annexed to Portland by an election in 1908.
The neighborhood continued to thrive throughout both World Wars but, along with most of the city, experienced a decline in the 1970s. Many affluent residents left the area for newer suburbs rapidly developing to the east. The effect on the commercial district was major with many retail shops closing along all three neighborhood boundary roads: Foster, Powell and SE 82nd.
Twenty years later, Foster Powell’s resurgence began as the steady rise in Portland’s residents began and people were drawn to the lower home prices and close proximity to Portland’s city center. Young families and immigrant communities moving into the area made Foster Powell one of Portland’s most diverse neighborhoods.
All three of Foster Powell’s borders are major thoroughfares–Powell Blvd (Hwy 26), Foster Road, and SE 82nd–giving residents great access to public transit along those routes. The neighborhood is also close to I-205 and major Max hubs.
Marysville Elementary (K-8) is the only public elementary and middle school within the neighborhood boundary. There is not a high school in the neighborhood, students would look to Grant High School in neighboring Lents, or Franklin High School in South Tabor.
Laurelwood Park is at the midpoint of the Foster Powell section of Foster Road and serves as an important public space. The park is being renovated this year as a result of an initiative started in 2013. Final plans for the park will be unveiled later this month. Kern Park, an acre and half, is a lovey park offering residents a softball field, basketball court and play area. Essex Park is the largest recreational park in the neighborhood at 4 acres. In addition to basketball courts, a baseball field, and picnic and play areas, this part also has tennis courts and splash pad.
Located right on Foster Road, Bread and Roses market stocks beautiful organic produce and dry goods, and Trader Joe’s, Safeway, Natural Grocer, and New Seasons all have branches nearby in adjacent neighborhoods.
Points of Interest
Multnomah Park Cemetery is a tranquil and interesting place to walk among tall trees, historic monuments and gravesites connected by winding paths. The property is one of fourteen historic cemeteries in the Metro area, many of which began as family plots in the 1880’s. Multnomah cemetery was established in 1888 by O. P. Lent, Gustaf Petersen, George P. Lent, Robert Gilbert and William Kern; the county acquired the land in 1944.
Portland Mercado is a one-of-a-kind economic incubator project founded by Portland non-profit Hacienda CDC. The building and surrounding lot offer space and business advising for Latino entrepreneurs making and selling traditional regional foods. A veritable celebration of latin cultures and food traditions, the Mercado is a wonderful, fun place to shop and eat!
Food and drink options have been steadily expanding in the neighborhood. For years Foster Powell has been known as a destination for great Vietnamese food with An Xuyen Bakery serving incredible banh mi and bao buns, and Rose VL serving both banh mi and pho.
Within the past couple years, a handful of new bars and restaurants have expanded dining options for residents. Pieper Cafe and micro-roaster Carnelian Coffee will be joined by a new coffee colleague soon when Favela, a Brazilian cafe, opens in the neighborhood this summer. Henry Higgins bagels and Off the Griddle, a vegan and vegetarian diner are popular options for the breakfast & brunch set. Assembly Brewing, serving their own PNW beers alongside Detroit-style pizza opened in late March. For the cocktail enthusiast, recently opened 5 and Dime offers a roster of impressive specialty cocktails and snacks.
If you’re tired of eating and drinking and looking for some active entertainment, one of the most popular spots in the neighborhood is Tango Berretin a popular studio and dance hall for Argentinian tango. They welcome newcomers and seasoned dancers alike!