Welcome to the historic Whiteaker neighborhood, where bicycles are plentiful and quirky art is never less than a foot away. Urban shops and sustainable cafes speckle the busy Blair Blvd, with residential pockets flushed around it. The south edge of Whiteaker begins at 6th Street and continues north until the Willamette River. A railroad slices the neighborhood roughly in half.
We first strolled along Blair Blvd., where we found Red Barn Natural Grocery. Across the street from Papa’s Soul Food (delicious southern barbeque cuisine), this sustainable market is one of many local businesses that aim for local products. A fence banner across the street reads “Garbanzo Grill: All Vegetarian Menu”, referring to a little food cart plopped in the center of a vacant parking lot. Needless to say, this place has character.
Around the corner, the large bright turquoise Ninkasi logo popped against the tall grey brewing cylinders. Ninkasi Brewing Company is a fast growing (founded just in 2006) local producer of beer, and now is distributing in five states of the Pacific Northwest. Bike racks line the outside of the tasting room, indicating yet another business committed to sustainability.
Strolling through the adjacent residential area, we noticed many old disheveled houses, made distinguishable with bright paint jobs and adorned with unorthodox art. S.S. Whiteaker Hostel, one of the few hostels in Oregon today, is tucked away in this side of town. Only a five-minute walk from Blair Blvd, this hostel should be considered a hidden gem for shoestring travelers.
Our final destination lied somewhere between the Whiteaker Elementary School across the railroad tracks, and the Maurie Jacobs Park along the Willamette River. This side of town gave of a more “worn in” vibe, with fewer bustling business and quieter homes. Maurie Jacobs Park, complete with fields of daisy-speckled grass and a decent play structure, signifies the edge of the quirky Whiteaker neighborbood.