Historical Highlights of Hollywood

Hollywood Neighborhood History

During the early 20th century Portland expanded rapidly on the east side of the Willamette River. At the start of this era the Hollywood District contained only a few homes and dirt roads. In 1906 a streetcar line ran the length of Sandy Boulevard. Called the Rose City Line, the streetcar allowed residential growth. The most prevalent historic-period home styles in the neighborhood include the large Portland style, the popular 2-story Craftsman, and the single story bungalow. As families filled these suburban homes, community services were in demand. Fire Engine Company #28 was stationed at 5440 Northeast Sandy Boulevard in 1912. They were a horse drawn company until 1920 when motorized vehicles replaced the wagon.

Local church services were also held during the early days of the neighborhood. St. Michael & All Angels Episcopal Church and the Rose City Park Presbyterian Church were two of the earliest churches in the Hollywood Neighborhood. By 1935 the Bethlehem Lutheran congregation relocated from northwest Portland to the vacant Laurelhurst Community Church on 39th Avenue.

An increase in population also caused the early business community to flourish. In 1931 Fred Meyer opened up a store in the Hollywood Neighborhood along Sandy Boulevard. In addition to groceries, general merchandise and a pharmacy, the new store offered off street parking and a gas station. Paulsen's Pharmacy has continued to operate out of its original 1918 location at 4246 NE Sandy Blvd. Famous for operating a 1920s style soda fountain, Paulsen's offers old fashioned customer service along with the latest products.

Restaurants and taverns have always been successful endeavors in the area. After the repeal of prohibition in 1933, Pal's Shanty opened in 1937 at 47th and Sandy Boulevard. Pal's has been serving food and drinks for 68 years. The Mandarin, a popular restaurant and lounge, was originally a bottle club.

Since the 1940s, the Hollywood District has been a mecca for Portlanders wanting to experience the taste of international cuisine. From Chinese to German, Italian and Mexican, there have been many ethnic favorites in the neighborhood. Three restaurants in particular that have long standing ties with the Hollywood community; the Pagoda Chinese Restaurant, Poncho's Mexican Restaurant, and Sylvia's Class Act Dinner Theater. An additional restaurant that had a long stay in the area was the controversial Coon Chicken Inn. The entrance was shaped like a large head of an African American porter with exaggerated features. It opened in 1930 serving chicken dinners and closed by the 1950s. The most famous restaurant, however, was Yaw's. It was famous for its burgers, gravy fries, and berry tarts. Most people also remember the "tootsie roll cop” who handed out tootsie rolls to the youth cruising by the restaurant. After 56 years of serving quality food, Yaws closed in 1982.

The Hollywood Boosters have been supporting the neighborhood since 1934. Their goal is to bring businesses and people together in order to build a greater and richer community. They have been involved with the Junior Rose Festival Parade along with other celebrations.

Over the last 75 years, the Hollywood District has undergone change, leaving it a mixture of both old and new. Despite these changes, the neighborhood continues to hold onto its historic front porch homes, neighborhood charm, traditional businesses, and sense of community.


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