Ladd's Addition: Portland, Oregon

Summary

Oregon's oldest planned community, the 128-acre Ladd's Addition is distinguished by its radial street pattern, village green, and gardens. Developed as a Victorian-era residence park, the community is Portland's most heavily forested inner-city neighborhood. Ladd's Addition's commercial corridors are within a short walk of most of the 870 residences. A designated local and national historic district, the housing stock includes stunning examples of Old Portland architecture, such as Craftsman, Mission, Tudor, and bungalows.

Designated Area

Ladd's Addition extends 10 blocks by 8 blocks on the eastern edge of Central Portland and is bounded by Hawthorne Boulevard to the north, Division Street to the south, Southeast 20th Street to the east, and 12th Street to the west.

Planning Excellence

Multimodal in nature, pedestrians and bicyclists are welcome here; commercial streets are part of several bus lines. Residents are active and engaged in protecting their neighborhood and ensuring its sustainability.

Residents of Ladd's Addition have a history of community activism and involvement. Here, neighbors volunteer to inoculate mature American elm trees against Dutch elm disease. Photo courtesy of Jon Farley.

Commitment to Planning

  • Platted in 1891 by William S. Ladd, a Portland mayor and businessman, the neighborhood is a monument to the City Beautiful movement; design departs from city's traditional rectilinear grid, using radial streets that converge at five formal gardens; neighborhood has formal symmetry reminiscent of Renaissance cities and gardens
  • Support for Portland's first citywide zoning ordinance was strong in Ladd's Addition in the 1920s where, after the area's restrictive deed covenants lapsed, local protests failed to stop the construction of a market at the circular park in the heart of the neighborhood
  • Residents rallied in the 1970s to stop the proposed Mt. Hood Freeway along the southern edge of Ladd's Addition; defeat led to development of Portland's light rail system and triggered revitalization of several blighted southeast neighborhoods
  • To preserve community character, residents successfully included in Portland's first comprehensive plan in 1980 a downzoning of much of Ladd's Addition — from duplex to single family 

Historic Preservation Emphasis

  • Portland's first residential historic district in 1977, Ladd's Addition served as a model for new urbanism developments — including Seaside in Florida and Fairview Village and Orenco Station in Oregon
  • Ladd's Addition Conservation District Guidelines, adopted in 1988, used during the review of proposed construction and restoration projects, govern changes to the street open space system, along with new buildings and exterior rehabilitation
  • Community and street design, architecture, landscape architecture, and social history are among reasons Ladd's Addition listed on National Register of Historic Places

This Craftsman bungalow is indicative of the early 20th century architecture found in Ladd's Addition. Residents of the 870 homes are often found socializing on their front porches or working in their gardens. Developed Photo courtesy of Richard N. Ross.

Innovative Street Design

  • Hierarchy of streets within radial street plan creates framework for neighborhood; two boulevards, with 80-foot rights of way, run diagonally through Ladd's Addition, intersecting at the central park. The street's 12-foot planting strips contain American elms and serve as buffers for pedestrians; narrow local streets, which converge on four diamond-shaped rose gardens, discourage cut-through traffic. These streets, just 24 feet curb to curb, supplemented with alley system that eliminates driveways and curb cuts
  • Original street and sidewalk details reinforce historic character; many sidewalk corners are imprinted with the original date of construction and street names. Horse tethering rings line curb fronts; buggy wheel curb protectors found on some street and alley corners
  • Neighborhood has been a test case for transportation enhancements including traffic-calming, signal prioritization, traffic diverters, and bicycle boulevards; since 1990s average daily traffic volumes at Ladd Circle have dropped from 6,000 to 1,500 
  • Ladd Avenue, one of the two boulevards, has been a primary southeast bike route for 20 years; bicycle traffic continues to increase — daily ridership reached 3,975 during the summer of 2008
  • Streetscape improvements in commercial corridors are a priority; in 2007, the City of Portland enhanced bus stops, improved pedestrian safety, provided covered parking for bicycles, and added street trees along Hawthorne Boulevard

Environmental Stewardship

  • Original plan for Ladd's Addition included rose gardens, each one block away from the central green at one of the four compass points; the parks,  part of Portland's 1903 Olmsted Parks Plan, were designed by Olmsted associate Emanuel T. Mische. Today Ladd's Circle — a 200-foot diameter open space with large rhododendrons and azaleas — is used for gatherings and informal recreation; rose gardens contain some 3,000 bushes
  • As the neighborhood's development started from 1907 to 1910, the Ladd Estate Company planted 1,600 street trees (mostly American elms, Norway maples, littleleaf lindens); Ladd's Addition Street Tree Plan governs tree selection and replacement; Ladd's Addition Conservation District Guidelines provide protections for the 1,300 existing deciduous street trees
  • Neighborhood first in Oregon to implement community-based tree inoculation program in response to Dutch elm disease, since 1995 under Save our Elms, since 1986 volunteers have planted 600 new street trees to maintain cathedral-like tree canopy

Sustainability

  • Neighborhood residents have joined the larger Hosford-Abernethy Neighborhood Development Association to develop "Green Teams" to share information about sustainability initiatives and reducing the neighborhood's carbon footprint
  • Residents also working with City of Portland to establish solar panel use standards for historic neighborhoods; community exploring bulk purchases of solar panels
  • Abernathy School in neighborhood runs "Garden of Wonders" program — parents and student grow food crops and cook and serve homegrown food in the cafeteria; school also participates in the Safe Routes to School program that encourages walking and biking

Known as a regional and national model for new urbanism, Ladd's Addition is made a true '20-minute neighborhood' by its churches and neighborhood businesses, including a coffee shop and video store that line Ladd's Circle, and the neighborhood arterial streets. Photo courtesy of Richard N. Ross.