Within the U.S., there are two major urban cities named Portland, one on the east coast and one on the west. The Pacific coastline is a neighbor of Portland, Oregon. Downtown Portland is often referred to as the living room of the city, as it encompasses the Pioneer Courthouse Square. This area of the city was designed to be pedestrian friendly, taking advantage of the design options from Robert Moses, a master builder who designed parts of the grid of New York City. Portland’s government hired him in the 1940s to provide a blueprint for development of their city. The result is a grid that encourages a vibrant downtown area.
However, Downtown Portland has struggled with staying vibrant and relevant for its citizens. Yet that began to change in the late 1970s, as new development began to take place. A downtown transit mall was built in 1977, a waterfront park in 1978 and the Pioneer Courthouse Square was completed in 1984. Light rail transit has also been added, with transit downtown available using streetcars, light rail, buses and taxis. Transit used to be free in the downtown area, but was completely discontinued in 2012 after a significant budget shortfall left the transit department unable to maintain it. The south side of Downtown Portland also includes the streetcar transit system, which is a draw for both visitors and residents alike.
Another mall was built in 1990, drawing more retail and entertainment opportunities to the downtown area. As a result of these sustained efforts, downtown has become an all-hours retail, dining and working environment.
Downtown Portland provides plenty of opportunities to both work and play
This area also has a cultural bent as well. Home to Portland’s Art Museum, the downtown hosts a variety of art exhibitions throughout the year. The Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall allows music lovers to enjoy a variety of concerts and artistic endeavors.
Education has also been a part of downtown. The district is home to Portland State University, which adds another element to the artistic and cultural aspects of the area. For those who enjoy the outdoors, there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy it with Tom McCall Waterfront Park. Situated on the banks of the Wilmette River, this park is part of a concerted effort to beautify the area around the river’s banks. This park is home to several festivals throughout the year, including a bluegrass festival, brewers gathering and The Bite of Oregon. All of these events mean there is plenty to occupy the residents of this cozy community. Portland still retains many aspects of a comfortable small town, while providing the comforts of big city dwelling.
Connecting all these aspects of Portland’s downtown area are the bridges. At times referred to as Bridgetown by the locals, Portland boasts several bridges that provide walkways and connections across its two rivers. In total, Downtown Portland has nine different bridges, providing access to adjacent neighborhoods, as well as the pedestrian areas of downtown.
This Pacific Portland offers plenty to both its visitors and residents, drawing individuals to this beautiful jewel by the rivers.