At first glance, the shops lining Portland's Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard conjure up many a Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein sketch from 'Portlandia': Independent, eclectic, and proud of it. The reality, however, is less polarizing. While still emanating PDX's easily lampooned eclecticism, Hawthorne (as the greater neighborhood around the boulevard is called) is inviting and appropriately whimsical – not the elitist hipster breeding ground portrayed in the media. In spots, the neighborhood overflows with unique stores, mostly of the vintage variety. Scouring them all would take days, but these five – plus a historic theater and a can't-miss barbershop – embody the diversity and good taste at the heart of the neighborhood.
Powell's Books on Hawthorne
Powell's has become a thing of legend and source of pride for Portlanders. Its massive flagship store, in the Pearl District, claims to be the world's largest independent new and used bookstore. While its Hawthorne location isn't as big, it's just as impressive. First, there's the Hawthorne branch's physical space: Though fairly narrow at roughly 30 feet wide, the shop is still massive because its long, stretching back a few end zones short of a football field. Such proportions might normally feel unnverving, yet this long literary corridor is ultimately inviting. Bright, handcrafted pine shelves (designed and built by Powell's employees) offset any of the space's structural quirks, creating a welcoming space that compliments its extensive selection and prices.
Credit: Christopher Onstott