Since I've covered nearly the whole of the general address scheme of Greater Portland (I almost have enough now to put it all in a Grand Unified Address Theory), I'd like to take a little side trip.
I give you street signs, another fascination of my early days. People who actually erect these signs call those signs that identify the streets blades, and so will I, from here on out.
This photo of the SW Taylor Street sign (as it happens, at SW Broadway), amply illustrates the basic format for all street blades within the Portland city limits (ignoring the obvious attachments). Green, with bold letters for indentification, and the directional and name (SW TAYLOR) much larger than the street type, which is still centered for ease of readability (the eye follows the type from the large type to the small without extra effort). Since, in nearly every area of Portland, numbered avenues cross named streets, it's not necessary to quickly register that Taylor is a Street.
The basic format gives only basic information, however. To this end, the city sanctions a couple of attactments. The first and (so far as I'm concerned) most important, is the addition of a block-number tab to the basic sign. The one on this is "900" which, as I've before intimated, does not inidicate the 900 block of SW Taylor Street, but the 900 block of SW Broadway. Whether you are entering or leaving that block depends on the direction you're traveling–since SW Broadway is a one way street going south, if you're looking at this sign from a moving vehicle, you're entering the 900s. Or you better be. You'll get a big surprise...soon...if you're going north.
Have the block number on the sign is an important device; if one is unsure where they are but knows the city well enough, on main streets, all you need to do is glance at the sign, not inspect buildings along the street for addresses whose appearance cannot always be counted on. In neighborhoods away from main streets these tabs are usually not mounted; presumably by that time you're driving slowly enough that you can eyeball the address on the buildings.
(Quick parenthetical rule of thumb for downtown: Odd numbered Avenues are one-way southbound, even numbered avenues are one-way northbound. Count SW Broadway as 7th)
The other attachment is what I call a sign-topper. This is a fashion that has really caught on of late, which is designed to give identity-starved neighborhoods some sort of cohesion somehow, or at least some sense of neighborhood pride or brand-identity. I am of a mixed mind about these. Some of them are quite good, a couple are brilliant, many of them are bad. I plan on exploring this topic in the near future. A big minus is that they tend to displace the block number tab from its proper place (which is typically centered on the top blade), or makes it gone entirely.
Take a look at the blade for SW Broadway on the left there. The area of south downtown (call it south of about SW Salmon Street, and west from SW Broadway to the Stadium Freeway (I-405)) has been styled the "Cultural District"; Schnitzer Hall, Portland Center for the Performing Arts, Portland Art Museum, Oregon Historical Society, and Portland State University all are situate in this area. When attempting to communicate a perception of sophistication that would perforce pertain, an understated gold backs up a classical typeface. Good so far, but the reference to the patterned tile in the top center is rather unclear. It may be drawn from local architecture, but it's hard to say just what.
The last picture I'd like to share for now is a picture of the sign at the corner of SW Madison Street and Park Avenue. Numbered Avenues don't need block number tabs-since the hundred-block of the numbered Avenue begins with the number of that Avenue (18th Avenue defines the 1800s on the cross street)-they don't need them. When a named Street crosses a named Avenue, they have to get creative. Usually, though, this just means that the blade on the bottom has the tab displaced to one side or the other of the signpost, and usually hanging from the bottom edge. But when you have sign-toppers on the job, all tabs–if they're there–go to the bottom. Here we see the 800 block of SW Madison Street and the 1200 Block of SW Park Avenue.
Speaking of SW Park Avenue and SW Broadway, there's a couple of issues I like to touch on. Noticing the SW Broadway blade, notice how there isn't a street type on it? It's not "SW Broadway Avenue" (which would be thematically appropriate), but just "SW Broadway". That's a quirk about Portland that I've always been fond of. Moreover, down through the years, streets in town that are called "Way" have had that folded into the street name leaving the street typeless: NW Wardway, SE Reedway. Sadly, it does seem to be subject to slow replacement; I've seen "NE Broadway Street" replace "NE Broadway" and "SE Reedway Street" replace "SE Reedway". I lament this. It's a cute local quirk, and I think well enough should be left alone.
With respect to SW Park Avenue, there's a name change on part of it. North of the Arlington Club/Paramount Hotel block (about SW Salmon Street) the street's character changes. South of Burnside, SW Park Avenue and SW 9th Avenue define a very narrow east-west block, a legacy from Portland's early days, when that strip was a wide-open area called "The Boulevard". In the areas that were commerically developed, the streets carry the names just mentioned, but once south of Salmon and the Park Blocks take up, both streets carry the name "SW Park Avenue"...leaving the name "SW 9th Avenue" behind.