The northwest section of Portland was planned and developed by Captain John Heard Couch. Couch was an accomplished seafarer who also started Oregon’s first newspaper, The Spectator. Couch’s naval background led him to believe that the intersection of the Willamette and Columbia Rivers would one day become a great commercial center, surpassing then-rival Oregon City. Couch’s decision to found the Lovejoy-Pettygrove land site was a key milestone in early Portland history. Couch is the one who laid out the streets of today’s Northwest Portland with the letters of the alphabet into what we now know as the Alphabet District. The streets were originally known as A Street, B Street, etc. from 1865 to 1891 when the streets were given their current names. Fans of The Simpsons television show will recognize the names of several streets in the Alphabet District like Flanders and Lovejoy. The main thoroughfare, Burnside, was perhaps an inspiration for Oregon native Matt Groening’s Mr. Burns?
Northwest Portland contains much notable architecture including the Temple Beth Israel, Trinity Cathedral, and family dwellings from some of Portland’s earliest elite residents. There are a large number of apartments here; many were built in the first half of the 20th century. Period details have remained largely intact on the older buildings. This neighborhood has the highest population density in the city. Home styles include many Victorians and luxury condos. There are fewer acres of parks here than other areas of Portland, but this area is closest to one of the largest urban parks in the United States, Forest Park. Proximity to the Oregon Zoo, the International Rose Test Garden, and the Japanese Garden are also benefits of living in Nob Hill and the Alphabet District.
Food & Drink
People from the city and suburbs flock to notable area restaurants like Papa Haydn St. Jack, and Ataula. If you’re looking to grab a drink after work check out Muse Wine bar, Fireside, and McMenamins Tavern & Pool are all great spots to catch up with friends and coworkers. Ken’s Artisan Bakery is a can’t miss spot along NW 21st. (Monday’s popular pizza night inspired Ken to open Ken’s Artisan Pizza on the eastside of Portland.) For dessert head on over to the famous Salt & Straw for some ice cream, but be prepared to wait as there’s usually a line. Within the neighborhood, but off the beaten path, those in the know visit Saint Cupcake for delicious cupcakes and World Cup Coffee & Tea for outstanding coffee. Neighborhood markets include Trader Joe’s, Zupan’s, and Whole Foods.