About the Pearl District
Sometimes called the “warehouse district” owing to its industrial history, the Pearl District is Portland’s most cosmopolitan neighborhood. Offering up a unique combination of history and modernity, the Pearl District is home to generations of Portland natives and visiting admirers. With tons of fantastic restaurants, hip gastropubs, old-school watering holes, trendy art galleries and stunning riverside views, this downtown destination caters to a diverse crowd to say the least. Chicly refurbished warehouses now house brick-walled lofts and light-filled yoga studios, with a distinctly-quirky charm only Portland can offer.
Though no one is quite sure how the district got its moniker, the Pearl District Business Association claims it was a local gallery owner named Thomas Augustine gave the district its name due to its decaying warehouses resembling oysters and the new galleries and artist’s apartments moving in were similar to pearls. He saw the changes in the district happening and coined the term Pearl District. However, years later, Augustine himself edited that story saying it was his friend who gave the district its name due to the fact she threw parties for artists in the warehouses. Her name? Pearl Marie Amhara.
Getting to Pearl District
The Pearl District is just northeast of downtown, and borders the Willamette River. Several landmark bridges connect this Westside area to Portland’s newer Eastside, with the White Stag sign made famous by Portlandia visible coming West along the Burnside Bridge.
Things to do in Pearl District
The Pearl District is home to some incredible Portland eateries, like the gourmet staple Andina for Peruvian food or unbelievable Mexican at Portland’s best-kept secret Los Gorditos, a low-key spot also offering vegan options. For other hip vegan fare or for the generally health-conscious, give the lovely and bright Prasad a try. For delicious and unassuming fare, check out Tilt which combines the District’s industrial past and hip present in a unique and family-friendly way.
The Pearl District is home to a range of upmarket stores such as Northface, Lululemon, Nordstrom and Nike. And for those more interested in books than bags, Powell’s books is a must.
One of the most famous and largest bookstores, Powell’s Books is a must-see for book lovers and spectators alike! It contains over 68,000 square feet, covering an entire city block, which is how it gets its nickname, the City of Books. Powell’s buys roughly 3,000 used books daily. It was founded in 1971 by Walter Powell and was later passed to his son in 1982, where he opened more branches. Powell’s being ahead of its time, established its Internet presence in 1993, which was before the existence of Amazon.com. Powell’s has been recognized as one of “the coolest bookstores” (CNN), and “America’s top 10 best bookstores (USA Today) among other distinctions.
Take your book or your lunch and wander to one the Pearl District’s popular parks such as Jamison Park below which has many benches perfect for a chowing down or reading.
For those 21+, try some local Oregon beer at the highly rated Deschutes Brewery (fun fact: you can get kegs to go). Originally opened in Bend, Oregon in 1988 by Gary Fish, popularity of the beer exploded and sales were through the roof. Fish had no other option than to expand the brewery and sell nation-wide. The Deschutes Brewery in Pearl District opened in 2008 and is beloved by locals and tourists alike.
Be sure to give several other local pubs and breweries a visit, like 10 Barrel Brewing or the family-friendly Rogue Pearl Public House.
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