NW Portland's Alphabet Blocks

Industry Observer with RETIRED / State License is Inactive Inactive License Oregon

Where are the Alphabet Blocks in Portland?

Located in Portland's NW section, the Alphabet Blocks in Portland are a group of streets beginning north of Burnside and continue heading north, alphabetically. The Portland Alphabet Blocks is an ubur-trendy area known for restaurants, boutiques, antique shops, bookstores, second hand thrifts, pubs, pubs and more pubs.

The Alphabet Historic District, an area zoned for historic preservation running roughly from NW 24th Ave. to NW 2nd Ave., and from NW Vaughn St. to W Burnside St. It is named for the alphabetical progression of street names in the area and in 2000 was added to the National Register of Historic Places - Wikipedia

The Alphabet Blocks located in the NW District of Portland comprises:

  • NW 23rd Ave. Dubbed Trendy-third, this major shopping street is lined with swanky clothing boutiques and other upscale retail, mixed with cafes and restaurants. This area is also known as Uptown (particularly its southern end near W Burnside St.) and includes Nob Hill (centered on NW 23rd Ave. and NW Lovejoy St.).
  • NW 21st Ave.The neighborhood’s other main commercial district is a dining and entertainment destination, with popular restaurants, an independent film theater, and numerous bars, pubs, and nightclubs.

How Did Portland Alphabet Blocks Come to Be?

Maybe . . . and I'm only taking a guess . . . for the ease of locating an address. Let's take an address, any addres 2105 NW Hoyt, for example. The Portland City Planners of yore developed a nice block/address identifying system.

  • Burnside St. is a great divider. Burnside dissects Portland north and south.
  • The Willamette River is the other great divider. It dissects Portland east and west.

"B" is for Beginning the Alphabet Blocks

Portland Alphabet Blocks begins with "B" for "Burnside" I think Alder might be the missing "A" block, but it doesn't run the length of Portlandas Burnside St.

Portland is Divided Into Five Quadrants

  • NW Portland : Streets NORTH of the Burnside and WEST of the WILLIMETTE RIVER
  • SW Portland : Streets SOUTH of the Burnside and WEST of the river
  • NE Portland : Streets NORTH of the Burnside and EAST of the river
  • SE Portland : Streets SOUTH of the Burnside and EAST of the river
  • N Portland : Streets NORTH of Burnside and EAST of the COLUMBIA RIVER

So Exactly Where Are Portland's Alphabet Blocks?

The Alphabet Blocks in Portland are located on the NORTHWEST side of Burnside St. Alder (which doesn't run / transverse the City as Burnside), Burnside, Couch (pronounced COO-ch), Davis, Everett, Flanders, Glisan, Hoyt, Iriving, Johnson, Kearney, Lovejoy, Marshall, Northrup, Overton, Pettygrove, Quimby, Raleigh, Savier, Thurman, Upshur, Vaughn, Wilson . . . and X Y Z apparently didn't exist in those days of yore -- since we don't have any more Alphabet Block street names for those renegade letters.

EDITED 11/23/14:  A Special THANK YOU to Diane, comment #9 who added:

A=Ankeny, X=Xavier, Y=Yeon, not sure if Xavier survived after they redid Hwy 30 in the 90's.

How Do the Street Numbers Come Into "Play" with the Alphabet Blocks?

Using the Williamette River as the boundary line, all streets running parallel* to the river are numbered, beginning with FIRST AVE. -- Both on the EAST and WEST sides of the River.

SW First Ave. is WEST of Burnside, southside, one block up from the river

2105 NW Hoyt is 21 blocks WEST of the river, north side of Burnside

Easy as ABC, 123 . . .

EDITED 6/22/16:  A Special THANK YOU to Susan, comment #10 who added:

The number street run parallel to the river, not perpendicular.


Map of the Alphabet Blocks in Portland NW District

View Larger Map


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Carla Muss-Jacobs has RETIRED effective May 1, 2018

Representing Buyers in the Portland Metro Real Estate Market | Clackamas Multnomah and Washington Counties | Since 1999

Carla Muss-Jacobs, REALTOR®, ABR, CEBA, ePro
Principal Broker/Owner ~~ INACTIVE

Carla Muss-Jacobs' retirement became effective May 1, 2018

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Comments (12)

Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393

Carla -- what a great and very helpful tool especially for those new to Portland!  Nicely done.

Sep 09, 2011 01:41 PM
Barbara Hensley
RE/MAX Properties - Rockwall, TX
Homes for Sale in Rockwall County, Texas

Carla - this is an excellent explanation about how these blocks work - great info for people not familiar with the city.  Enjoy the evening!

Sep 09, 2011 02:42 PM
Kym Wright
Prudential California Realty - Olivenhain, CA

Carla - Great information and laid out very nicely, easy to read.  I love how you explained everything.

Sep 09, 2011 03:38 PM
Jane Peters
Home Jane Realty - Los Angeles, CA
Los Angeles real estate concierge services

This is a great history of the Portland City planning system.  I shall have to bring this with me on my next trip to Portland.

Sep 09, 2011 05:58 PM
Wayne Johnson
Coldwell Banker D'Ann Harper REALTORS® - San Antonio, TX
San Antonio REALTOR, San Antonio Homes For Sale

Carla-Portland's city of years ago developed a very rational plan. They seem to have been urban planners before there were formal urban planners.

Sep 10, 2011 12:44 AM
Carla Muss-Jacobs, RETIRED
RETIRED / State License is Inactive - Portland, OR

Hi Michael -- are we related?!?  HA HA HA  Thanks for the comment!

Hey Barbara . . . took me a little while to figure out -- how really very easy it is! ;-0

Hi Kym -- but I didn't mention in the one-way streets.  They're a little tricky to get used to.

Hey Jane . . . don't bother because you'll have me showing you around!!! :-)

Hi Wayne -- yeah, that area is easy to navigate, but there's some parts that I think the City Planners were drunk off their butts . . . HA HA HA

Sep 10, 2011 07:43 AM
Tammy Lankford,
Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668 - Eatonton, GA
Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville

I like that they have actual names... where my mom in law lives it's really just B street and C street and so on.

Trendy-Third (Love it) that is so neat.  We'll have to check it when I come to visit one of these years Carla.  You'll have to show me all the cool places in Portland.

Sep 10, 2011 09:08 AM
Melissa Zavala
Broadpoint Properties - Escondido, CA
Broker, Escondido Real Estate, San Diego County

WHat a nice, thorough Localism post. I have a goal to write a few of those today.

Sep 10, 2011 09:15 AM
diane morin

A=Ankeny, X=Xavier, Y=Yeon, not sure if Xavier survived after they redid Hwy 30 in the 90's.

Nov 22, 2014 11:24 AM
Carla Muss-Jacobs, RETIRED
RETIRED / State License is Inactive - Portland, OR

 Thank you Diane Morin . . . appreciate your comment and addition to this post!  

Nov 23, 2014 02:38 AM

The number street run parallel to the river, not perpendicular.

Jun 22, 2016 02:25 PM
Bill Beyer

Alder never was an alphabet street. The A street is Ankeny.

Apr 13, 2019 07:10 AM