15 December 2017

Lost Portland: The Carolina Motel, Parkrose, Sandy Blvd

Today I stopped by the corner of NE 112th and Sandy Blvd in Parkrose.

For those who don't know, Parkrose is a neighborhood of northeast Portland, centered more or less on NE 102nd Avenue and Sandy Blvd. That intersection pretty much anchors the west end of 'downtown' Parkrose, and it stretches just about a mile east, to NE 122nd Avenue and Sandy. The more redoubtable and historically commerical buildings are all between about 102nd and 110th.

There are also a number of shabby motels which nonetheless are trim and neatly kept but which bear names which kind of poke existential fun at themslves: There's a "Courtesy Motel" and a "Prestige Motel", and you know how every town has a "Nordic Motel"? Ours is along the commercial strip in Parkrose.

Of course this was the point at which US 30, the Columbia River Highway, entered Portland back in the day; for a good portion of the 20th Century, Parkrose was pretty much Portland's NE corner. And, at the gateway to town, there were the roadside motels. Travellers stayed there, and people moving to town; I'm no judge of people, but if the zeitgeist is any clue, some people aren't travelling so far any more, and the places some travel to are just a little darker than they used to be.

In 2014, Google Street View showed 11144 NE Sandy Blvd, Portland, Oregon, to look like this:

Sometime during the last year, the property obviously sold. This is what it looks like now.

The neat, trim cottages are gone, leaving a lot so meagrely sized you'll find yourself wondering how any motel could have possibly fit there.

The sign still standing, offering DAILY RATES, CABLE TV HBO SHO, and the rustic amenity of the DD PHONES adds a real touch of surreality to the scene. The fence around, meant to keep Those Who Needn't Be Here off has been breached. I did not take advantage of the freedom of entry.

An additional touch of culture amidst the ruins is positively spooky: Note that the topiary, even after most of a year, is still disturbingly on fleek.

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