At Pendleton, we have so much local lore to draw on when naming products. We all agreed that the Burnside was a perfect name for this Fall’s new cotton shirt! What else would we name it? It was a perfect name, the perfect name! But then it occurred to us that not every one lives in Portland. So here’s a little background.
Burnside Avenue runs from east to west in Portland, crossing the Willamette River with one of Portland’s original bridges. The best-known stretch on the west side of the river, where Burnside was originally known as “B Street,” is part of Northwest Portland’s Alphabet District. In the 1800s, before the bridge was built, this was a wild part of town. B Street was home to bars, card rooms, and other nefarious businesses that made it a less-than-respectable part of town. The street name was changed to Burnside after David W. Burnside, a Portland merchant, in the late 1860s, but it took more than a new moniker to alter the neighborhood. It took traffic.
Yes, traffic! The bridge, the streetcar and then the demands of the automobile turned Burnside into one of Portland’s more heavily traveled avenues. When the 205 freeway was cut through, Burnside even got some on-ramps (one block off Burnside). Burnside served as one of the boundaries of what Portlanders called “close-in Northwest,” an industrial area adjacent to the river.
It was home to rail yards, breweries and warehouses. But by the late 1980s, the breweries had closed, and the rail yard had relocated its giant concrete turntable to SE Portland. Change was coming.
Today, Burnside bounds the Pearl District, a prosperous mixed-use neighborhood full of lofts, studios, galleries, restaurants and shopping. But Burnside’s gritty charms remain. You can see it in Powell’s, the City of Books housed in an amalgamation of warehouses joined together to make a square city block of books. You can also see some original Burnside in Everyday Music, another vast emporium housed in converted industrial spaces. And you can see it in the work of the McMenamin brothers, Portland entrepreneurs who restored an ancient dance hall with a famous floating wooden dance floor and opened the Crystal Ballroom with Ringler’s Pub underneath.
Pendleton’s HQ sits where the Pearl District meets Portland’s Old Town, on NW Broadway, just east of the North Park Blocks. Burnside Avenue is only two blocks away. It continues to carry foot, bus, car and bike traffic through a part of Portland where the newness of the Pearl District rubs shoulders with history, and it carries it all comfortably. What better name could we find for a 100% cotton flannel shirt, peached on both sides of the fabric for softness, bar tacked for strength, and made in the kinds of plaids that say Pendleton?
That’s right. We called it the Burnside shirt, and we hope you like it.