Exploring Portland’s Rich and Diverse Neighborhoods and Districts

| September 15, 2013

Portland Oregon night vista

You don’t have to live in Portland long to hear people throwing around neighborhood names. One of the most confusing things for a transplant to learn is the difference between the Hollywood District and the Pearl, or Hawthorne and Healy Heights. And when you’re searching for the right place to live and work, you might have to do some digging to find out which of these neighborhoods is the best. Really, it all depends on your budget and what you’re looking for. Safety or excitement? Arts and culture or the great outdoors? In this city, there is something for everyone.


Northwest Portland is where you’ll find the biggest concentration of young residents. According to 7×7 Magazine and the U.S. Census Bureau, it’s made up of 80 percent singles and the median age is 34. Its most popular areas include the eccentric and historic Old Town Chinatown and the elegant Pearl District, Portland’s affluent neighborhood filled with 5-star restaurants and high rise apartments overlooking the whole city. Further west, you’ll find indie shops and arthouse cinemas around NW 23rd Avenue, as well as a wealth of gorgeous Victorian houses and property gems. On the very edge of the northwest part of the city, there’s the Forest Park neighborhood, which sits adjacent to the 8-mile “urban forest” of the same name.


Northeast Portland is the largest and most diverse area of the city, with both highly expensive and working class residential neighborhoods. It’s home to the Lloyd District, famous for the Oregon Convention Center and the Lloyd Center Mall – a massive shopping center with three floors and an indoor ice skating rink. It’s also where you can find the Rose Garden Arena and the famous Hollywood District, an eccentric and popular neighborhood named for the 1920s cinema built there. The Hollywood District has its own Farmers Market and great nightlife, including their monthly “Hollywood Night” celebration.


Portland Art Museum

Downtown Portland is situated in the southwest, including Portland State University’s campus, the Portland Art Museum, and plenty of shopping, dining and festivals. But Southwest Portland also remains the best place for families with kids, with most residential neighborhoods boasting 90 percent home ownership. Stable areas like Healy Heights are made up of 70 percent married couples and surrounded by schools ranked outstanding by the Oregon Department of Education. It’s also the safest place to live in the city. While the north may have the best bars and restaurants, it also has more crime and places where there are over 1,000 crimes per 1,000 residents. In Healy Heights and surrounding neighborhoods like Hillsdale and Multnomah, there’s less than one crime per 1,000 residents.


Southeast Portland is primarily known for the thriving Hawthorne District, home to beautiful vintage homes and lively young social groups. The hipsters that populate the area full of brewpubs, used clothing stores, and bookstores such as the Hawthorne branch of Powell’s are part of a long-standing cultural history that began when Hawthorne was a hippie community in the 1960s. The area is also home to Mt.Tabor, a 190-acre park situated around a 630-foot cinder cone. Because of the park’s extensive trails and the neighborhood of Tabor’s great access to veterinary care and pet supplies, 7×7 voted it the best location for dog owners in the greater Portland area. And in Portland, you will see plenty of dogs.

Portland is a city you can take your time exploring, especially if you’re searching for the right neighborhood to settle. Everyone who comes to the City of Roses may be looking for something different, but nothing you are looking for is too far out of reach. A place to call home may be just around the corner.

Robin Knight writes housing reviews for Portland homes that are advertised through local real estate companies.


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