Transformed

A Garden Center’s Worth of Trees and Bushes Have Transformed the Street Outside Old Town Brewing Into a Green Escape

In most instances when you run up against one of those white- and safety-orange-striped “Road Closed” barricades, heavy equipment is on the other side ripping into the pavement, frustrating drivers now in need of another route along with neighbors who must put up with the sustained din of construction.

At Old Town Brewing’s Northeast Portland location, these blockades actually seal off a tranquil urban thicket right in the middle of the street.

This past summer saw every bar, brewery and restaurant in town expand into lanes of traffic if they had the means and ability. While many of these makeshift pandemic patios are nothing much to look at, Old Town’s is different: It immerses you in nature.

“I think one of the things that made such a drastic improvement were all of the trees,” says owner Adam Milne. “It made Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard look like a park. It’s beautiful.”

The temporary woodland—just off the major thoroughfare on Northeast Sumner Street—took more to create than just a run to the closest big-box store’s garden department. The trees are actually loaners from the city of Portland’s Bureau of Environmental Services as part of its effort to partner with the Portland Bureau of Transportation’s Healthy Business program. And the agency didn’t just pick whatever extra available shrubs happened to be in storage, either—careful planning went into the selection of each flower and frond for Old Town and the newly launched Dream Street Plaza it’s a part of.

“They sent out an arborist who walked through the place to develop a ‘tree site plan’ to help support the goals of the plaza,” says PBOT spokesperson Hannah Schafer.

The plaza, which had its grand opening Oct. 2, is the result of a $25,000 National Association of City Transportation Officials grant that PBOT won