Did you know Portland has 16 recognized historic districts? From Irvington to Rocky Butte, Old Town to the Alphabet District, each has a rich history and each has a story to tell. Today we’re going to take a closer look at one of Portland’s most famous and most picturesque neighborhoods: Ladd’s Addition in Southeast Portland.

Technically part of the larger Hosford Abernethy neighborhood, Ladd’s Addition is nestled between Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard and Division Street from 12th to 20th Avenues. It’s not Portland’s biggest neighborhood, but it’s certainly one of the most unique.

On its treelined streets you’ll find Craftsman style homes, English cottage style homes, American Four Squares, and more. Abernethy Elementary School is located on SE Elliott Avenue, making Ladd’s Addition an especially popular neighborhood for young families.

Keep reading and you’ll learn more about the history of Ladd’s addition, as well as why it’s one of Portland’s favorite neighborhoods.

The Early Days of Ladd’s Addition

william-ladd-oregonLadd’s Addition is named for William S. Ladd, who served as Portland’s mayor way back in the 1850s. He’s also known for founding Oregon’s first bank in 1859 as well as building the first brick building in Portland!

Believe it not, Ladd’s Addition was once a 126 acre farm, owned by William Ladd himself. In 1891, the city of East Portland became incorporated into Portland proper and the plans for creating a residential neighborhood named Ladd’s Addition began.


From Farmland to One-of-a-Kind Neighborhood

Looking at Ladd’s Addition from above, you’ll immediately notice it doesn’t look like other Portland neighborhoods. Instead of conforming to a traditional grid layout, Ladd’s Addition is laid out in an unusual “wagon-wheel” formation featuring a central hub known as Ladd’s Circle with symmetrical streets shooting off in all directions.

The inspiration for this design actually came from our nation’s capital: Washington D.C. When designing the neighborhood, William Ladd looked to the L’Enfant Plan, which used a combination of a traditional grid and European hub-and-spoke layout meant to make transportation easy while preserving plazas and open spaces.

Most of the streets in Ladd’s Addition were named after the area’s trees and foliage: Elm, Poplar, Maple, Spruce, Mulberry, and Lavender (among others). But William Ladd named the neighborhood’s main street after himself and named Elliott Avenue in honor of his wife’s maiden name.


Home to Delicate Trees and Beautiful Rose Gardens


Photo: Brx0 on Flickr

Entering Ladd’s Addition can feel a bit like stepping back in time. The streets are quiet, especially compared to the major streets serving as its border. And even during the brightest summer days, Ladd’s Addition can be a cool, shady, and quiet place to beat the heat and avoid the surrounding city’s hustle and bustle.

In part, that’s thanks to hundreds of large elm trees lining Ladd’s Addition’s main streets. Unfortunately, today, many of these elm trees are at risk of being lost to Dutch Elm Disease. The local Save Our Elms organization works to raise funding to protect and treat the trees in Ladd’s Addition.

Each quadrant of Ladd’s Addition is highlighted by a gorgeous rose garden (not to mention the main garden in Ladd’s Circle). You can thank Emanuel Mische, supervisor of Portland’s Parks, for designing and planting these gardens in 1909. Today, over 100 years later, the gardens are as beautiful as ever, featuring more than 60 varieties of roses.

Be aware, the roses in Ladd’s Addition are protected by law and the fine for cutting even a single rose is at least $500! But during the summer months, area residents are invited to attend “deadheading” parties where the blooming roses are given a much needed trim.

You can even adopt a portion of a rose garden and care for it year round. Learn more by contacting the Friend’s of Ladd’s Addition Gardens.


Living in Ladd’s Addition

Ladd's Addition Home

Photo: Jill on Flickr

Ladd’s Addition is a diverse neighborhood whose residents include young families with children, retirees who value the neighborhood’s walkability and easygoing style, and even younger people who rent subdivided homes or reside in one of the neighborhood’s smaller apartment buildings.

The neighborhood’s widespread appeal comes from its unique architecture and style, as well as its proximity to downtown. When it comes to commuting, thousands of bicyclists ride through Ladd’s Addition each day on their way to downtown Portland.

Ladd’s Addition is also well-served by several Trimet bus routes. Ladd’s Addition residents are also in easy walking distance to trendy restaurants, bars, and shops on nearby Hawthorne and Division.


Neighborhood Hotspots & Events

Just as William Ladd intended, the central hub of Ladd’s Addition (known as Ladd’s Circle) is a major neighborhood gathering place. Locals stop in at Palio for a piece of cake and espresso. It’s one of the best cafes in all of Portland!

Ladd’s Addition residents love their neighborhood and take pride in making it feel like a small, connected community. Neighborhood parades celebrate the 4th of July, Halloween, and the Christmas season. You’ll see decked-out bicycles, kids in decorated wagons, and even dogs dressed up for the occasion!

If you’re new to the area, or just visiting, the walkability of Ladd’s Addition– it gets a WalkScore of 88, makes it the perfect neighborhood to explore on foot. You’ll find children setting up lemonade stands, at least a few yard and garage sales every weekend, and plenty of friendly neighborhood cats to pet.

Residents also frequent nearby restaurants, bars, and shops, including:


The Future of Ladd’s Addition

No one can deny it, Southeast Portland is growing and changing. Division Street, once a little run down and gritty, is now home to world famous restaurants like Pok Pok, tourist-friendly gourmet ice cream shops, and trendy art galleries. But what will happen to Ladd’s Addition? Only time will tell.

Are you interested in learning more about Ladd’s Addition? Leave a comment or get in touch with us. We’d love to tell you more about living in Ladd’s Addition!

Photos: Nelson Minaron Flickr, Wikipedia