11 September 2017

[pdx] Downtown Chevytown, Portland, USA

That little portion of the inner eastside of Portland that I gave a glimpse of in the last article has a heavy accent of the way all of eastern Portland used to feel, back in the day, and the area still hasn't exhumed the last of that feeling. It emanates because the terrior is, in some subliminal way, preserved. I feel it in the concrete and the sidewalk; in the fact that Andy and Bax is still a Portland thing; the Mediterranean restaurant next to that is still going great guns, and there's still a Wentworth Chevrolet.

courtesy Michael Long on Facebook
In the two-square-block bit of inner SE Portland encompassed by SE Ankeny and Ash Streets, stretching from SE MLK Jr Blvd to SE 6th Avenue, the western one-and-a-half blocks is occupied by the dealership that once fully reveled in the title Wentworth Chevytown. Up until 2013, there was a great and beloved sign over the lot at the corner of MLK and Ash, about four stories tall, with 10-foot-tall red letters reading WENTWORTH CHEVYTOWN. Alas, the dealership, apparently beleaguered by regulation (mostly, they say, having to do with safety regulations pertaining to the high-voltage power lines on Grand Avenue directly in front of the sign) that prevented regular maintenance, deemed it should come down. The Oregonian's Eliot Njus reported the details back in 2013.

Sic transit gloria, and all that. This writing is in 2017, of course, and what changes five years, yes? But Wentworth still abides; there is a Wentworth Subaru (Subaru because Portland) on the block north of that, East Burnside between MLK and Grand, and on the corner of SE Ankeny and Grand, at 134 SE Grand Avenue, the Chevytown mark can still be seen, in appropriate vintage signage.

It is, at least stylish and retro, which doesn't get you as far as it used to get you here in the Rose City, but is still good for something.

The lot in front is another blast from the past, an OK used car lot. These used to be seen pretty much everywhere, and I don't know if OK is still an operant badge for Chevy, but what it was, as Hemmings reports with a bittersweet tone, was Chev's brand for its dealership-sold used cars. And the signs still adorn the block of Grand between Ankeny and Ash.

It gives a certain cadence to the street scene which I greatly enjoy. There was a time when brand and marketing was just kind of a background wallpaper that didn't blare out and cover everything; this reminds me of that.

No comments: