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Industrial gem: the Pearl District

One of the most charming neighbourhoods in Portland is the Pearl District, where everything is within walking distance. The loading platforms and cobblestoned streets are echoes from the past, while innovative companies and food service establishments usher in the future. This is also the heart of the city’s cultural life. You won’t have any trouble staying awake here, as no other neighbourhood in the United States has a higher density of coffee bars.

Few would have called it a gem 20 years ago. The Pearl District has an inglorious past and was once known as the Industrial Triangle, filled with shunting yards and weather-beaten warehouses. Nowadays, the neighbourhood is a trendsetter in urban renewal. The industrial buildings have been converted into trendy shops, chic lofts and inviting beer breweries.

Former warehouses
Former warehouses

Portland, OR

The perfect neighbourhood

Portland, the capital of bicycles, beer and coffee, celebrates workmanship, appreciates independence and is averse to pretensions. Over the last 20 years in particular, the city has undergone drastic change. Portland is big on green, from farmer’s markets to organic beer. The bustling epicentre of this development is the Pearl District, once the subject of various studies on how to create the perfect neighbourhood from a dilapidated district. Nowadays, it’s the perfect example of successful urban renewal. The neighbourhood spans around 100 city blocks between downtown, the Northwest district and the Willamette River. ‘Pearl’ is a place to hang out and take your time, whether browsing through trendy clothing and furniture shops or enjoying the tremendous selection of recreational pit stops, from coffee bars and galleries to brewpubs. It is worth noting that Oregon has no sales tax, which makes shopping even more fun.

Characteristic ambiance of the Pearl District
Warehouses in the Pearl District

A book city

Powell’s is the largest chain of independent bookstores in the world and you’ll find the mother of all bookstores in the Pearl District: Powell's City of Books. Losing your way in this paper maze makes the experience all the more fun. For book lovers, this shop is a Valhalla and, for others, hopefully an eye-opener. If you can’t make up your mind, simply take a stack of books to the store café and browse through them till you find what you’re looking for.

“Powell’s is a Valhalla for book lovers”

Photo credits

  • Characteristic ambiance of the Pearl District: Rosa Say, Flickr
  • Warehouses in the Pearl District: Rosa Say, Flickr