Pearl District & Old Town

From Sunset Magazine to the New York Times, the Pearl District has been featured in numerous articles praising the area’s many amazing attributes. What was once a rundown and crime-filled warehouse district has now been renovated (or gentrified) into upscale boutiques, gourmet restaurants, and high-end art galleries. This section of Portland easily commands the highest price per square foot in the city (and probably the state). High-rise luxury condominiums are the most common housing options. Numerous empty nesters and affluent singles call this trendy neighborhood home. This walkable urban area also contains many families. Chapman Elementary School, West/East Sylvan Middle, and Lincoln High School are some of the best schools in Portland. The entire Pearl District is essentially mixed use: both residential and commercial. Powell’s Books operates the largest independent bookstore in town along an entire city block within the Pearl. Bookworms from around the globe head to Powell’s to satisfy their craving, often spending hours browsing, reading, and drinking coffee. Bend, Oregon microbrewery Deschutes recently renovated an old auto garage and converted it into a large, “hopping” microbrewery and restaurant. Portland Center Stage, Portland’s premier theater group, just moved into the old Portland Armory building, now the Gerding Theater, across from Deschutes. The world-renowned Portland Farmer’s Market operates a farmer’s market on Thursday nights during summertime. Whole Foods was the sole grocery store serving the Pearl until Safeway opened a large, upscale location on NW Lovejoy at the end of 2008. People from the entire Portland metro – and even from as far away as Salem – come to the Pearl for First Thursday festivities. Galleries stay open later and restaurants are bursting with clientele during this ultra-hip monthly gathering that encompasses the whole neighborhood. There are three parks in the neighborhood including Jamison Square Park, Tanner Springs Park, and the North Park Blocks. A new 3-acre park is slated to begin construction shortly. There is a wonderful fountain that kids play in at Jamison and a play structure at the North Park Blocks.Unfortunately, nearby Old Town hasn’t seen the same attention or money that’s been poured into the Pearl. A few condominium complexes have been built in Old Town, but there are few other permanent housing options. Some notable restaurants choose to call Old Town home, mostly located near TriMet’s MAX line on NW 5th. Ford’s on 5th and nearby Gilt Club on NW Broadway are well worth the trip into this part of town for a scrumptious lunch or dinner. A distinctive Chinese arch at Burnside and NW 4th marks the entrance to Portland’s Chinatown. Unfortunately, it has become a shadow of itself as most of the true ethnic restaurants, markets, and services have moved to Portland’s 82nd Avenue. That being said, there are some good places for dim sum and the Portland Classical Chinese Garden is a pleasant oasis amidst the bustle of a busy city. Portland’s historic and active train station, Union Station, is situated in Old Town.Harking back to previous eras of luxurious train travel, the station boasts lovely historical features and an upscale restaurant, Wilf’s, which serves both lunch and dinner. Several movies have been filmed in this part of Portland including Diane Lane in Untraceable and a scene from The Hunted with Benicio Del Toro and Tommy Lee Jones. Transportation options are bountiful. MAX lines crisscross both Old Town and the Pearl District. Pearl residents find its desirable to walk or hop on public transportation to get to their final destination. Portland’s Street Car is a distinctive part of the Pearl District landscape. This notable transportation option runs from Northwest Portland, through the Pearl District, south through downtown Portland, and currently ends in the south Waterfront area.