07 August 2009

[pdx] Hawthorne: Tales Of Typographic Boulevards

2188.Portland's Hawthorne Blvd, at about 7PM, on an overcast, famously-Oregon summer evening:

Looking west from SE 47th Avenue, just where I took the sign blade pictures in the previous missive. Yes, it is gloomy and kind of dark. After the hellish heat wave Oregon just endured, you won't find me complaining. Actually, too much clear, bright weather makes me edgy. But then, I was born here in Oregon.

A couple of examples of typography and architecture that contributes to the famous Hawthorne feel and atmosphere caught my eye.

JaCiva's Chocolatier was founded by a man named Jack and his wife, Iva, and it's pronounced that way. You may think you know Oregonized confectionary with Moonstruck, and it is good stuff, but for real local flavor, JaCiva's in the place. The logotype on the sign is completely designed here (I'd be surprised to find that was an actual typeface) and it uses the idea of soft graceful curves and swashes to impart a sense of luxury.

The type in the old Portland IMPACT community service center logo is Koch's famous Neuland, a font that gives the impression of hand-hewn craft. The simplicity of it, combined with the whimsy of the figures and the flat brown tone, deliver a message of humility and approachable help. The reader board's message of E HAVEMOVE RN EWA DD RESS . BURNSID delivers a message that is perhaps in code.

Portland IMPACT have in fact removed to a different address on E. Burnside and have updated their look and name. They are now Impact Northwest:

… the colorization fo the logo is inspired and fun, at least against a light background – the type's a little uninspired though – in my opinion.

Part of the charm of Hawthorne, as I alluded, is the architecture, and along the 4700 block, on the south side, are some charming old commercial fronts that I hope aren't replaced by condos any time soon:

The signage on the places are as eclectic as the variety of people you'll meet on Hawthorne. Hawthorne Vintage, there on the right, has a hand-done sign that is just fun with its funky type and bouncing color balls. Timbuktunes World Music has a mashup with type inspired by Art Deco, purple and green colors, going for tradition and non-tradition all in one fell swoop – and somehow, despite having two colors that you don't think would work together, they do. The CPA office on the far left – the type and presentation is staid and boring, but you don't want to be entertained by your CPA. You want them to be dependable, expected, and expert.

I know the type is hard to see in the photo. Go down there maybe and enjoy the atmosphere in person, yes? Maybe I'll be getting better photographs later on.

Finally, just a mysterious two-storefront building immediately west of that:

Isn't that wonderfully anonymous? The paint, put on for the sake of argument; the architectural touches, which suggest Art Deco; if you get up close, the transom-level windows have this wonderful frosted rippled glass which you used to find everywhere. Nothing special about this, but everything wonderful. This little building really captured my imagination.

All of the above can be found on upper Hawthorne Blvd between SE 47th and 48th Avenues.

Gloomy late afternoons in Portland, Oregon. Definitely nothing like them anywhere else.

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