Portland, Oregon is divided into five quadrants (yes, I know that is a contradiction). Each one of these quadrants has a distinctive character, from the gritty warehouse district of Northwest to the high priced homes and winding nest of streets in the hills of Southwest.
But the quadrant of Portland that is probably most stereotypically "Portland" as people would see it is probably Southeast. Southeast is where you can actually find head shops and people meeting in community spaces, and people on bicycles, and neat little houses with well tended gardens and Tibetan prayer flags. Whatever stereotypes people have about Portland, the Southeast quadrant will bear them out.
Besides, of course Powell Boulevard. Powell Boulevard, (which is actually a section of Highway 26) which goes from the Ross Island Bridge eastward through Southeast, eventually running past Powell Butte, out through Gresham and eventually on to Mt. Hood and Eastern Oregon. Of course, its later destinations are somewhat irrelevant to its actual purpose.
Despite all of the posters proclaiming Every vegetable we grow is a blow against global capitalism, the well tended herb gardens of South East can't actually feed the citizens of the People's Republic, let alone keep them well suited with their Jiffy Lube and Taco Bell needs. For that reason, in addition to being an important arterial street leading from Downtown to
82nd Avenue and I-205, Powell Blvd is also where all the supermarkets, fastfood franchises and other such businesses are located in Southeast. Unlike SE Hawthorne Boulevard, where most of the shops are upscale and independent, SE Powell is the location of more lower class and chain stores. The exception to this is in the eastern stretches of Powell, where a strong population of Korean, Chinese and Vietnamese immigrants have set up a number of ethnic food markets, beauty salons and computer shops.
Powell Blvd serves an important purpose: one, it helps me get around and get groceries, and two, it stops SE from just collapsing into some kind of Martha Stewart pretentiousness and cutesyness. Powell Blvd helps keep it real in SE, WORD.