Portland State University. Department of Geography
Thomas W. Harvey
Date of Award
Master of Science (M.S.) in Geography
1 online resource (206 p.)
Gentrification -- Oregon -- Portland, Urban community development -- Oregon -- Portland, Hawthorne Boulevard (Portland, Or.)
Portland's Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard illustrates commercial gentrification in progress. Once a declining service district, "Hawthorne" is now one of the city's most popular shopping streets. Tracing and classifying businesses, using address listings from city directories, gives an accurate picture of changes since 1980. Three parallel trends can be distinguished in the makeup of the business mix: a shift from services to retailing; a move towards a regional, rather than a neighborhood, market area; and a cultural upgrading associated with the influx of increasingly expensive stores. Classification also aids in the definition of a tipping point at which revitalization became gentrification.
The actions of individual entrepreneurs in the revitalization process were complemented by the Hawthorne business association's participation in the Main Street program, a national project to improve declining retail districts. The program helped the Hawthorne district become more successful by encouraging physical improvements, special promotions and greater communication among merchants.
Hawthorne has experienced dramatic increases in the numbers of restaurants, gifts shops and clothing stores, and a decline in convenience and household goods. Its changing role and evolving image exemplify the national trend towards specialized, recreational retailing. The district has retained its longstanding reputation as a focus for used books and stereo equipment and, in spite of becoming a regional magnet, still reflects the character of its surrounding neighborhoods.
The commercial was accompanied by a shift in business orientation. The conspicuous consumption and high prices usually associated with gentrification are moderated by a large number of stores that advocate "political correctness" and promote recycling. Hawthorne is typified by the presence of alternative subcultural groups such as bohemians and gays. The district's continued accessibility to poorer sectors of society is apparent in the large number of stores se11ing secondhand goods. Coincident with its bohemian image, many stores have a strong feminist slant. Hawthorne as a whole serves as a focus for Portland's lesbian community. Hawthorne's multi-faceted image is created by the stores and their advertising, and by planned ventures of the business association.
The well-educated, low-income, female-focused nature of many stores reflect the character of neighborhood while drawing like-minded people from all over the city. Hawthorne's neighborhoods have a lower rate of owner occupancy, more non-family households, and a higher percentage of women than the city as a whole. The five census tracts adjacent to Hawthorne have above average education levels but lower household incomes than the city median.
The significance of gentrification lies in it being a manifestation of broader changes affecting society as a whole. Changes in gender divisions, the break-down of the traditional household, the evolution of lifestyle-based neighborhoods, and the increasing appeal of diverse central city neighborhoods are all creating new places and new forms of consumption. The Hawthorne district is an effective example of successful commercial revitalization and the creation of a gender-based commercial landscape.
Hardyman, Rachel Ann, "Hawthorne Boulevard: Commercial Gentrification and the Creation of an Image" (1992). Dissertations and Theses. Paper 4056.