Bicycling Magazine calls Portland the #1 best city for bicycling in North America. Innovative programs, from designated bike-only areas at traffic signals to free bike lights, make riding in Portland practical even for new cyclists. One of the best and most accessible bike paths within a short distance from downtown Portland is the Eastbank Esplanade/Springwater Corridor Trail which goes past a wildlife refuge and some urban farms, to the rural community of Boring.
Portland is the most sustainable city in the country according to 2008 SustainLane’s U.S. City Rankings. Cafes, restaurants, and markets are integrated into most neighborhoods, encouraging people to walk rather than drive. Public transportation, including free transit downtown, is excellent, and mixed-use development in downtown’s Pearl District is an urban model for cities across the nation. Portland also boasts the most LEED-certified buildings per capita in the nation. Portlanders recycle 54 percent of their waste, a percentage that exceeds that of any other U.S. city.
Beautiful Mt. Hood and the scenic Columbia Gorge lie just 90 minutes to the east. Visitors to Mt. Hood can enjoy skiing in the winter, or hiking and mountain climbing in the summer. The Columbia Gorge is known the world over as a windsurfing destination. Ocean beaches and coastal mountains provide opportunities for outdoor recreation 90 minutes to the west. Within a few minutes’ drive of downtown Portland is Oregon wine country, most with year-round tasting rooms.
Portland has a wide variety of neighborhoods each with their own personality. We cannot cover all 94 of the formally recognized neighborhoods or the outlying areas but we can highlight some of the most interesting neighborhoods and give you a glimpse of what they have to offer.
Bustling downtown Portland is vibrant and alive with change. There are many beautiful parks to enjoy, as well as numerous theater, music, and entertainment events, restaurants and tax-free shopping. Portland’s famous light rail system, the MAX, runs through downtown Portland in what’s called the “fareless square.” Portland’s downtown blocks are shorter than most, roughly 200ft on each side, as a result making it easier to get around by foot.
In the heart of downtown Portland is Pioneer Courthouse Square, also known as “Portland’s Living Room.” It’s a brick-covered square that takes up a city block and it’s the perfect spot for the many festivals and public concerts that take up the square during the summer. It’s a popular place for Portlanders to hang out, eat lunch or read the paper.
Lying along the elegant, tree-lined South Park Blocks, you can explore some of the city’s major fine and performing arts institutions in the Cultural District. Interspersed among these six blocks are the Portland Art Museum, Portland Center for the Performing Arts, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, Northwest Film Center, Lincoln Hall, Oregon Historical Society, and some of the city’s most impressive early architecture. The Portland State University campus is just a short stroll away. With a Safeway grocery store and several new loft-style condominiums, this area is an urban-dwelling destination.
Sites of Interest: Pioneer Courthouse Square, Park Blocks, Portland Saturday Market, Portland State University, Portland Art Museum, Tom McCall Waterfront Park, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, Portland Farmers’ Market.
Location: Along the Willamette River bordering Naito Parkway to the east, Burnside St to the north, I-405 to the west and south.
Typical price and style of homes: Older historic buildings recently converted into condos, new loft-style condominiums and apartments primarily centered around PSU students. The average price is $480,571 and the median price is $349,000.
You can also view more neighborhood stats at: http://www.portlandmonthlymag.com/real-estate/articles/neighborhoods-by-the-numbers/
The Pearl District has undergone significant renovation and is now Portland’s premier urban-chic neighborhood. Many of the aging industrial warehouses have been turned into luxurious lofts, townhouses, and condos. The urban renewal began in the late 1990’s and it appears will continue into the future with the development of the North Pearl District. Today the Pearl District is an award-winning, internationally recognized leader in urban renewal. Often considered the “gold standard” of live, work and play mixed-use space, the Pearl District is a superb affirmation that a miraculous quality of life can rise from the ashes of urban decay. First Thursday is a popular event with galleries showcasing the best of local artists as well as live music and wine tasting. Powell’s City of Books, a Portland icon, is the world’s largest independent bookstore in the United States and occupies a full city block. If you work downtown and enjoy city living, this is the place to be for an easy commute. Walk or take the Portland Streetcar, light rail MAX train, or Tri Met bus to work and play. Located along the Willamette River downtown in an old warehouse district, the neighborhood offers a feeling of urban historic charm.
The Portland Pearl District is ever-changing and full of new development. New buildings are being erected in every direction. The bustling streets are lined with upscale shopping boutiques, art galleries, unique antique and home interior stores, and the requisite coffee shops and restaurants. This continues to be seen as a trendy and upscale urban locale for hip urbanites who want to live in the center of it all.
Boundary: The boundaries for the pearl are Burnside to the south, the Willamette river to the North, NW 16th to the West, and Broadway and the waterfront to the (north)east. It is bordered by the Old Town, China Town, Downtown, Goose Hollow, and Northwest neighborhoods, and the Willamette River.
Typical price and style of homes: New and converted warehouse lofts and townhomes. Prices range from the mid $100k’s for a small studio on the edge of the Pearl to multi-million dollar penthouses with views in the heart of it all. The average price is $547,312 and the median price is $440,000.
Points of interest: Jamison Square, Powell’s City of Books, Art in the Pearl, Pearl restaurants and shops, First Thursday, Brewery Blocks, North Park Blocks, Portland Armory
* Source for average and median home prices: Portland Monthly published April 2008
The Northwest District is a sophisticated, yet trendy, neighborhood surrounding the very popular NW 21st and NW 23rd Avenues nestled between the West Hills and the Pearl District. This neighborhood goes by many names which can be confusing, NW 23rd, Nob Hill, Uptown, etc. It is sometimes referred to by locals as “Trendy-third.” It is also known as the Historic Alphabet District, a very appropriate name since the street signs are in alphabetical order, making it easy to find your way around. Despite the name confusion it is a neighborhood not to be missed!
Some of Portland’s best gourmet and nationally-rated restaurants are located in this area. Nob Hill is also well known for its shopping. On the tree-lined streets grand old Victorian houses perch above the sidewalks, some of which have been turned into artsy shops, trendy clothing boutiques and locally-owned book stores. You’ll also find great bars, spas, salons, and local markets. This is a great Portland neighborhood for strolling and people-watching. Parking spaces are hard to find so ride your bicycle, walk or take the street car.
Boundary: The district stretches west to east from the base of the West Hills to I-405 (between NW 15th and 16th Streets), and north to south from NW Nicolai St. and the Willamette River to W Burnside St.
Typical price and style of homes: Turn-of-the century Victorians, restored Craftsmen, and other large Portland homes with period details, as well as many unique apartment homes, historic converted condos and rentals. The average home price is $368,938 and the median is $289,950. Detached houses typically range from half a million to a million dollars and you can buy a few hundred square foot converted loft for as little as $100,000.