Guide to the Boise Neighborhood in Portland, Oregon
In the mid-1980s, maybe 5-6 businesses were operating on the five-block North Mississippi Avenue commercial strip between Fremont and Skidmore streets in the Boise neighborhood of North Portland.
It was a grim place! You name it, N. Mississippi had it: drugs, gangs, street crime, prostitution, abandoned houses — all the elements of urban decay. Today, there are more than 40 businesses on the street. Restaurants, coffee shops, a bike shop, a nursery, furniture makers, a home rebuilding center, and even a couple of recording studios. Take a virtual shopping trip on Mississippi Avenue by clicking here.
What happened? For one thing, in 1999 the city of Portland created the Mississippi Historic District Target Area to improve public safety, upgrade housing and attract businesses. The city brought an army of bureaucratic tools — including home improvement loans, technical assistance and help — in dealing with the new designation. And the results are now starting to play out.
Has the effort been a success? The city hasn’t succeeded entirely in making sure that gentrification doesn’t drive out existing residents. Yes, crime and drugs are down while optimism is up. But the area still deals with undercurrents of racial and class mistrust in one of Oregon’s poorest and most diverse neighborhoods. Changes are happening quickly. People walk to the shops by day; at night, live music can be found at the Mississippi Pizza Pub where crowds and the music spill out onto the sidewalk on warm evenings.
The new Interstate MAX line is three blocks away, and neighbors hope that the low rents will attract more young artists who will help continue the revival. More than 60 percent of the neighborhood today is under 35, census figures show.
Mississippi Avenue Street Fair
The Mississippi Avenue Street Fair began in 2001 as a simple community-building event called the Boise-Eliot Multicultural Fair. The one-day event has since become Portland biggest street fair — attracting thousands and sprawling over five city blocks in the heart of the Historic Mississippi Avenue Business District.
The attractions have grown along with the fair and there are now multiple stages of entertainment with nearly 30 acts performing. Historic Mississippi Avenue Business Association (HMBA) and Boise Neighborhood Association (BNA) are the fair sponsors and it benefits the Boise-Eliot Elementary and Albina Youth Opportunity schools.
North Mississippi Avenue was populated in the 1800s by ship workers of European descent. It became home to blacks after the 1948 Vanport flood and was part of Portland’s thriving postwar black community. In the 50s and 60s, construction of Interstate 5 and Memorial Coliseum tore out businesses and long time neighbors were cut off from each other. The neighborhood has gone through a revival starting in the early 2000s and is now one of the most interesting areas in Portland.
Origin of Name
Reuben Patrick Boise (June 9, 1819 – April 10, 1907) was an attorney, judge and politician in the Oregon Territory and the early years of the state of Oregon. A native of Massachusetts, he immigrated to Oregon in 1850, where he would twice serve on the Oregon Supreme Court for a total of 16 years, with three stints as chief justice.
1Boise Home Prices
- Number of Homes Sold in Boise—► 35 homes were sold in 3012 and 20% were distressed sales. 32 homes sold in 2011 and 16% were distressed sales. 38 home sold in 2010 and 8% distressed properties sales.
- Median Price for Homes Sold in Boise—► $311,000 in 2012, $273,050 in 2011, $299,950 in 2010, $274,000 in 2009, and $300,000 in 2008.
- 1-Year Median Sales Price Change in Boise—► In 2012 the sales price change was 14%, in 2011 the sales price change was -9%, and in 2010 the change was 9%.
- 5-Year Average Sales Price Change in Boise—► 2008 to 2012 the sales price change was -3%. 2007 to 2011 the sales price change was -7%. 2006 to 2010 the change was 2%.
- Portland Metro Area Median Home Price—► $235,000 in 2012, $221,000 in 2011, $239,900 in 2010, $247,000 in 2009, $278,000 in 2008, and $290,000 in 2007.
- Portland Metro Area Average Home Price—► $275,000 in 2012, $263,300 in 2011, $282,100 in 2010, $289,900 in 2009 $330,300 in 2008, and $342,000 in 2007.
Please be aware that the above figures are subject to error and are intended as guidelines only.
Boise Homes for Sale
Parks and Health Clubs
Denorval Unthank Park is a 4.5 park in the heart of the Boise neighborhood. Facilities include a softball field, soccer field, basketball court, and playground.
The Matt Dishman Community Center and Pool includes an indoor basketball court, fitness room, gymnasium, meeting room, party room, indoor stage, weight room and an indoor swimming pool. The 25-yard, L-shaped pool has a one-meter diving board. The water is heated to 84 degrees and whirlpool spa heated to 102 degrees. Water depths range from 2 to 12 feet.
This community center is the site of the former Eliot Grade School. After the school was relocated, Portland Parks and Recreation took it over in 1950 and remodeled the building, naming it the Knott Street Community Center. In the late 1960s, the local community lobbied to name the center after Matt Dishman, the first African-American Multnomah County sheriff and police officer in the city of Portland.
The Boise-Eliot Community Garden is a .25 acre plot where citizens can grow their own food.
Walking in the Boise Neighborhood
This 2-mile loop starts at a bluff in Overlook Park, then to a pedestrian bridge over I-5 to the neighborhood restaurants, shops, and galleries along North Mississippi Avenue. Click here to download the guide.
Walk Score helps you find a walkable place to live. Walk Score is a number between 0 and 100 that measures the walkability of any address. Portland is the 12th most walkable city in the U.S. with a Walk Score of 66 and 57% of the residents have a Walk Score of 70 or above.
The Boise neighborhood ranks 12 out of 89 Portland neighborhoods. Below is a Walk Score for an address in the center of the neighborhood.
More About Boise
- Neighborhood Association Web site Boise Neighborhood Association. The Historic Mississippi Avenue Business Association is packed with information about the Boise neighborhood.
- Neighborhood Location Three miles north of downtown Portland just to the east of I-5. Take the Broadway Bridge and just after you get across the river, proceed on North Interstate.
- 2Drive Time to Downtown About ten minutes.
- Topography Grid pattern with tradition blocks and flat. Walking or driving from the north down N. Mississippi, you look right into "Big Pink", the downtown skyscraper.
- Sidewalks and Streets The street pattern is a grid layout. The neighborhood has sidewalks for walking.
- Livability Study 74.4% of Boise residents rated their neighborhood "good" or "very good." See Livability Study.
- Public Transportation TriMet's No. 4 bus, Fessenden, runs between downtown and St. Johns via Mississippi Avenue every 12 to 15 minutes. There are six bus routes running through Boise. The Interstate MAX (light rail) Overlook Park stop (walk to Mississippi via the Failing Street Pedestrian Bridge) or the North Prescott Street stop (walk to Mississippi via North Skidmore). Transit Score provides a 0-100 rating indicating how well an address is served by public transportation. Ratings range from "Rider's Paradises" to areas with limited or no nearby public transportation.
- 3Census 2010 Demographics Population: 3,311 persons. Area in acres: 276. Average population density: 12 persons per acre. Number of households: 1,537. Average size of household: 2.15 persons. Median household income: $41,937. Families with children: 17.7%. Home owners: 45%. Renters: 55%. Diversity: 35.3% non-Caucasian. For more census data about Boise visit Portland Online.
- 4Crime Stats 24 violent crimes in 2012 and seven crimes per 1,000 residents. 15 violent crimes in 2011 and 60 crimes per 1,000 resident. In 2010 there were 21 violent crimes and crimes per 1,000 residents was 38.
- 5Shopping and Services Number of supermarkets: 0. Number of health club: 0. Number of coffee shops: 1. A number of small shops to include a drug store are located on N. Mississippi Avenue and none of them are national chains. The Rebuilding Center is the place to find bargains for home remodeling. Boise is lacking a food market.
- Eating Out A paradise of eating with such establishments as Gravy, Lovely Hula Hands, Lorenzo's, and 5-6 others for eating. Visit Willamette Weeks' Restaurant Guide by Neighborhood for a list of eating places in Boise. One of our favorite restaurants is Mississippi Pizza because they have live music, gluten-free pizza and gluten-free beer.
- Walking Boise scored in the low 80s (very walkable) as recorded by Walk Score. A 2-mile walk starts at a bluff in Overlook Park, then to a pedestrian bridge over I-5 to the neighborhood restaurants, shops, and galleries along North Mississippi Avenue. Click here to download the guide.
- Public Library The closest branch library of the Multnomah County Library system is the North Portland at 512 N. Killingsworth Street. This is about ten blocks from Boise's north boundary.
- Who Lives in Boise Census figures show a diverse group with ethic backgrounds and occupations but that is changing as the neighborhood's diversity is changing. In Census 2000 the non-white population was 64.3% and in Census 2010 it had dropped to 35.2%. The median age of a resident is just 32.
- What They Drive in Boise Big and little. You will see big American made cars and an every increasing number of smaller foreign vehicles. Lots of bikes and many residents use public transportation exclusively.
- 6Biking Quality is low. The neighborhood has four miles of bike lanes. Bicycle Trip Planner will map a route for you and − just provide a starting point address and your destination address.
- Schools Elementary school: Boise-Eliot. Middle school: Tubman. High School: Jefferson.
- 7School Report Card Grades Elementary schools: S. Middle school: S High school: I. Click here for report card details.
Map of the Boise Neighborhood
Fly to the Boise Neighborhood via Google Earth
45° 33′ 02.90″ N
122° 40′ 27.05″ W
1Real Estate Values Data on real estate values provided by RMLStm. Distressed properties refer to the percentage of total homes sold that were short sales and bank-owned properties.
2Drive Time to Downtown Estimated commuting time obtained from Yahoo Maps and Google Maps. Drive time was calculated from a central intersection in each neighborhood to Pioneer Courthouse Square during the morning peak commute time.
3Demographics Data Numbers were obtained from Census 2010 and www.portlandmaps.com.
4Crime Statistics Numbers on crime were obtained from Portland Police Bureau. Violent crimes are defined as murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. Crimes per 1,000 are based on reported incidents of violent crime, as well as burglary, larceny, and motor vehicle theft.
5Shopping and Services Numbers were determined from local directory listings and county/municipal library systems.
6Biking Quality rating based on the 2007 Cycle Zone Analysis conducted by the City of Portland Office of Transportation. The six-tier ratings have been reduced to three levels: High, Fair, and Low.
7School Report Card Grades Schools ratings from the Oregon Department of Education 2009-2010 performance assessment. "O" = Outstanding; "S" = Satisfactory; "I" = In Need of Improvement; NR = Not Rated.
To learn more about the