It is possible to wander through the streets that inspired the fictional world of Beverly Cleary’s classic children’s books, as if through the set of a movie.
The Grant Park and Hollywood neighborhoods are speckled with the places that inspired the fictional universe of Ramona Quimby, the spunky little girl who is so beloved she is honored with a statue in the neighborhood park.
🛼 First Stop: 3340 NE Hancock St.
That’s where Beverly Cleary lived from fourth to eighth grade. The street served as a model for the imaginary Klickitat Street where both her fictional protagonists Ramona Quimby and Henry Huggins lived. It is still possible to imagine a curious child, pumping the pedals of her tricycle on that sidewalk.
Northeast Klickitat Street, or at least the name, takes a star turn in the classic fiction of Beverly Cleary. (Rachel Monahan/City Cast Portland)
🧶 Next Stop: Northeast Klickitat Street at 37th Avenue
The real Klickitat Street was up the hill from one of the homes Cleary’s family rented. In this neighborhood, it’s a stretch of larger houses than the working-class residences of the Quimby’s life. Cleary chose her fictional street name because it reminded her of the sound of knitting needles, I learned in my tourings.
🍨 Final Stop: Paulsen’s Pharmacy (4246 NE Sandy Blvd.)
Not all remains the same, of course, in Portland. There’s now a Tesla parked in the driveway where Cleary imagined Ramona playing “brick factory” (aka pounding bricks into dust) with her friend and neighbor Howie Kemp. The street that Henry would sled down (Northeast 33rd) is far too busy these days. And Paulsen’s Pharmacy (the basis for the fictional place Ramona ordered ice cream sodas) closed during the pandemic, though you can still look in the window at the bar.
The former site of Paulsen’s Pharmacy still has a counter. (Rachel Monahan/City Cast Portland)
Thanks to the readers who pointed me in the direction of the Multnomah County Library’s self-guided tour. Consult that map for more information, including the schools where Cleary attended (like the one that now bears her name).
For a more comprehensive tour, there’s also a book: “Walking with Ramona: Exploring Beverly Cleary’s Portland.”