Alberta Street has a rich cultural history. Originally the town of Albina, the Alberta neighborhood became part of Portland in 1891. The area of town was originally home to mostly German and Russian immigrant workers that had finished work on the Union Pacific Railroad, and later African Americans moved in to work at the WWII Vanport Shipyard. A streetcar system ran up and down the center of Alberta and the area was one of the commercial hubs for the city of Portland.
However, due to the nature of race relations in the 50’s & 60’s, the Alberta neighborhood saw a significant decline. The neighborhood fell on tough times when the business community fled the area and a lack of resources for the community resulted in one of the most economically depressed areas in the city. The neighborhood struggled with drug and gang related violence until the mid-90’s, when a group of local community leaders and business owners came together to take back their neighborhood. Early pioneers of the street’s resurgence include Roslyn’s Garden Cafe, Brooks Staffing, and the Guardino Gallary. These and other business and property owners took a chance on a street that had been mostly abandoned, and laid the groundwork for the street’s recovery.
In 1997, an art walk known as “Last Thursday” began to give Alberta a new reputation as a cultural hub for an already unique city. Today, the Last Thursday event brings thousands of people to the street, and the new reputation has increased property values and brought an influx of new business back into the area.