Guide to the Pearl District Neighborhood in Portland, Oregon

The Pearl District is in the Northwest section of Portland just north of downtown with an area of 285 acres and a population of 5,997 (2010 Census). The Pearl District was formerly occupied by warehouses, light industry, and railroad classification yards and now noted for its art galleries, restaurants, upscale businesses, and high-rise residences along with lofts that were converted from warehouses. The Pearl is located on West Burnside Street on the south, the Willamette River on the north, NW Broadway on the east and the Interstate 405 freeway on the west.

View a map of the Pearl District.

pearl_streetLocated on the north edge of downtown, the Pearl District is now the liveliest area in Portland. Walk to work, eat out frequently, take walks along the river, and jump on a streetcar that loops the downtown areas of the city.

In the early 1900s, the Pearl District was a major industrial and transportation hub of Portland, with extensive rail yards, warehousing, and manufacturing facilities. In the 1950s, many industrial activities were relocated as transportation patterns shifted from water and rail to surface transit on interstate highways and air. The low rents that soon followed created spaces for artists and small businesses. In the 2000s it transitioned to one of the most desirable locations in the city. Renovations and adaptive use of historical and other structures have led to loft housing, row houses, condos, new restaurants, art and ceramic galleries, and a burst of new retail activity. A flurry of important new urban creative-commerce entrepreneurs, ranging from small internet firms to world-class advertising and multimedia companies, are staking out territory here.

The Project for Public Spaces had this to say about the Pearl: “The Pearl is connected seamlessly to the upscale residential area known as Northwest Portland (NW 23rd and NW 21st), and also with the vibrant downtown area primarily because of the Portland Streetcar but also due to the pedestrian-friendly nature of the streets and neighborhood. There is no real center for the area; however, since the streetcar opened in 2001, it has centered on the area around NW 10th and 11th Avenues. The place is so accessible that many people have gotten rid of their cars or use them very rarely. The sidewalks are very inviting with storefronts lining them. The streets are narrow and include Portland’s famous 200-foot grid block system.”

History of the Pearl

Ipearl_railroadt wpearl_northendas not very long ago that the old Burlington Northern rail yard in Northwest Portland was an area of abandoned warehouses, empty offices, and an unused railroad track. Much has changed in the decade since. Today, this same area is now home to condos, apartment buildings, restaurants, shops, and offices.

To view the contrast between a few intervening years and in the same physical area, here are two photographs. You can see the “before” and “after” effect.

You will want to view the video by Hoyt Street Properties, the primary developer of the north end of the Pearl. Just click here to view the video.

Origin of the Name Pearl

The name “Pearl” reportedly came from Thomas Augustine, owner of the Augustine Gallery, who spoke of the precious gems hidden in the neighborhoods crusty old warehouses. Earlier the area was referred to as The Northwest Triangle.

Schools in the Pearl District Neighborhood

Find your school attendance area or a school site and view the boundary area using School Locator. Read how to use the interactive map by clicking on the “Information” icon (circle with an “i” in the center).

  • Schools in the Neighborhood  A list of public and private schools in the Pearl District neighborhood.
  • Public Schools in the Neighborhood  Elementary school:  Chapman. Middle school:  East-West Sylvan. High school:  Lincoln High School.  
  • School Report Cards   Report Cards for schools and districts in Oregon. Select “Portland SD 1J” to view individual schools within the Portland Public School District.

The Emerson School is a non-profit K-5 charter sponsored by the Portland Public School and it is located at 105 NW Park. The Emerson School was founded in 2003 by a trio of educators and parents who were passionate about the hands-on, experiential learning promoted through project-based education. Admission to the school is through an independent blind lottery process, open to all residents of the District. Portland Chinese School was founded in 1975 by a group of families from Taiwan. In 1988 the school applied for non-profit status and in 2000 the school was officially registered as an alternative private school. Later, in 2007 the school was authorized by the College Board to offer AP Chinese classes. The school is located at the Portland State University campus which is a few blocks on the south side of the Pearl in the downtown area. 

Pearl Home Styles

The Pearl is solid condos and apartment buildings along with a handful of townhomes. You will see the term “loft” in the Pearl which legally means a condo. In the early to mid-90s, some warehouses were converted into lofts (large open spaces). Lofts became so popular in the Pearl that new buildings designed with open spaces were built when all the desirable warehouses had been converted to living units. Many traditional condos with multiple rooms were built in the 90s and 2000s. The Pearl does not have any detached single-family homes.

Portland Monthly Magazine Guide to Neighborhoods

PDXMonthlyMag_April2014In their April issue every year, the Portland Monthly Magazine features the past year home prices along with other information about Portland neighborhoods and suburban communities. To read the magazine’s latest stories and numbers visit the Real Estate section. 

The numbers on the website and printed magazine are divided into four sections (real estate, people, crime, and lifestyle) on each of the Portland 90 plus neighborhoods as well as about 25 suburban communities. The website offers over 50 items of information about each Portland neighborhood and suburban community. 

The magazine added a feature on their website for homes sold in 2014 and it’s also available for homes sold in 2015 — an interactive map where you can click on a neighborhood and a pop-up displays five items (1-year median price change, 5-year median price change, median gross rent, walkability score and percent of newcomer) for a Portland neighborhood as well as a suburban community. Note the detailed numbers for each of the four sections for homes sold in 2015 are displayed below the map.   

To visit the magazine’s website latest stories and numbers visit their Real Estate section — click on “Neighborhoods” to view the numbers for the Portland neighborhoods and click on “Suburbs” for the numbers on communities in the metro area. Note the detailed numbers for each of the four sections for homes sold in 2014 and 2015 are displayed below the map. To access the Portland neighborhoods and metro communities demographic data and home prices by year: 

Pearl District Demographics  Below are some facts about the Pearl District neighborhood gleaned from the magazine’s website. A few numbers can tell much about the character of a neighborhood.

  • Average year homes built in the neighborhood:  1988
  • Percent of residents below poverty level:  18.4%
  • Percent of neighborhood size with parks:  3%
  • Live within a 1/2 mile of a park:  100%
  • Commute by bike or walking:  27.9%

1Pearl District Home Prices:  2007-2015

  • Number of Homes  Sold in the Pearl—►  308 homes sold in 2015 and all were condo sales — 1% were distress property sales. 324 homes were sold in 2014 and 3% were distressed sales.  280 condos were sold in 2012 and 11% were distressed sales. 235 condos were sold in 2011 and 20% were distressed sales. 140 condos were sold in 2010 and 13% were distressed sales.
  • Median Price for Homes Sold in the Pearl—►  $464,000 in 2015, $439,000 in 2014, $415,000 in 2013, $376,650 in 2012, $373,313 in 2011, $373,213 in 2010, $389,000 in 2009, $529,950 in 2008, and $440,000 in 2007.
  • Average Cost per Square Foot—►  $468 in 2015, $452 in 2014.
  • 1-Year Median Sales Price Change in the Pearl—►  2015 the change was 6%. 2014 the change was 6%. 2013 the change was 10%. 2012 the sales price change was 6%. 2011 the sales price change was -9%. 2010 the sales price change was -4%.
  • 5-Year Median Sales Price Change in the Pearl—►  2011 to 2015 the median sales price change was 31%. 2010 to 2014 the median sales price change was -22%. 2009 to 2014 the sales price change was -26%. 2008 to 2012 the sales price change was -33%. 2007 to 2011 the sales price change was -22%. 2006 to 2010 the sales price change was -7%.
  • Portland Metro Area Median Home Price—►  $308,000 in 2015, $285,500 in 2014, $265,000 in 2013, $235,000 in 2012, $221,000 in 2011, $239,900 in 2010, $247,000 in 2009, $278,000 in 2008, and $290,000 in 2007.
  • Portland Metro Area Average Home Price—►  $354,500 in 2015, $333,000 in 2014, $310,600 in 2913, $275,000 in 2012, $263,300 in 2011, $282,100 in 2010, $289,900 in 2009, $330,300 in 2008, and $342,000 in 2007.

Please be aware that the above figures are subject to error and are intended as guidelines only. 

Find a Home in the Pearl District

Homes for Sale in the Pearl District

Parks, Community Centers, and Health Clubs in the Pearl

Three existing neighborhood parks make living in the Pearl appealing. Two additional parks are planned for construction in the Pearl District. One is The Fields (see description below) and another is a potential park along the Willamette River.

jamison_square

  • The Fields is bordered by NW 11th Avenue, Overton Street, and Naito Parkway. The Fields is the third of four parks in the Pearl District. The park has about 150,000 square feet, and the unstructured open space provides opportunities for play and recreation for a broad population of users. The park was designed with dogs in mind. This includes rain gardens that will filter rainwater; an underground drainage system; and a surfacing of decomposed granite. The result is a ground surface so dog owners can get out there year round and not have muddy paws to deal with. Other amenities in the off-leash area, located in the northwest corner of the park, include a small/shy dog area, benches, double entry gates, and water fountain. The park opened in May of 2013.
  • Jamison Square is a .94 acre park in which the focal point of the park is a fountain which simulates a shallow tidal pool. Water cascades from stone joints into low pools as the fountain continuously recirculates treated water. It is a welcome relief on hot summer days and evenings. It was completed in 2002.
  • Tanner Springs Park made a connection to the past when Tanner Creek used to flow openly through the Pearl; today it flows through large pipes beneath the city streets. The design of the park recaptures the area’s past with its native wetlands and flowing runnels. It is a place to sit and reflect. It was completed in 2005.
  • North Park Blocks is six blocks (2.43 acres) in length with mature Big Leaf Maples and Black Locusts along with a few American Elms. These blocks were some of the original park properties in the city which were dedicated in 1869. Drive down NW Park Avenue or NW 8th Avenue and it’s hard to keep one’s eyes on the road instead of looking at the 80-100 foot trees.

The Zimmerman Community Center (ZCC) is an urban nonprofit organization committed to strengthening the spiritual and civic life and identity of Portland’s River District. Founded by a bequest from local schoolteacher Isobel Faith Zimmerman, the ZCC seeks to build community bonds that bring together people who live and work in in the Pearl and Old Town/Chinatown neighborhoods.

Two private health clubs are located in the Pearl:

  • 24-Hour Fitness  The Pearl club is located at 1210 NW Johnson Street.
  • LA Fitness  The club is located at 1414 NW Northrup Street.

There are also some boutique clubs that specialize in just one workout such as Pilates and Yoga.

The Pearl District has seven acres of parkland and open spaces according to Metro and the Portland Department of Parks and Recreation.

Brewery Blocks and Lovejoy Blocks

brewery_blocksIn 2000, another large-scale redevelopment project in the Pearl District began on the site of a former five-block brewery, called the Brewery Blocks. Gerding/Edlen Development Company bought the historic brew houses, which were converted into approximately 1.7 million square feet of retail and office space, and new residential buildings. Both the historic and new buildings are incorporating environmentally friendly techniques that will provide long-term savings as well as conserve energy. For instance, during the construction phase of the Brewery Blocks, a recycling program diverted 96 percent of construction waste from going to landfills.

The Lovejoy Blocks, bounded by Northwest Lovejoy and Marshall streets and Northwest 12th and 14th avenues, includes a nine-story grocery and office building and a 16-story retail and apartment building. In Block One, a Safeway store occupies the full block at ground level, and a partial second level house back-of-store operations. Three levels of parking and three levels of space office top the store. Block Two includes retail space on the ground floor, parking on the ground through third floors and residential apartments on the fourth through 16th floors.

Pearl District Neighborhood Awards

Sierra Club In 2005, the Sierra Club named the Pearl District as one of America’s best new development. The Sierra Club considered a wide range of projects, from cities large and small to suburbs, to small towns in each corner of the nation. Here is a quote from the report: “In urban planning circles, Portland has emerged as a model city, at the forefront of creating a vibrant, quality urban environment, and the Pearl District only bolsters its reputation.”

Money Magazine  Money Magazine named the Pearl District one of the best places to retire. Here is an excerpt from the article, “When Joyce Edwards visited friends in Portland a couple of years ago, she wasn’t in the market for a new hometown. But she immediately realized that this Northwest city was the place for her.” There aren’t many places; she says, “That appeal to her interests in both culture and the great outdoors.”

The Pearl and Pets

pearl_hannah2Hannah is a yellow Lab, a citizen of the city. She rides the elevator with her owner. She goes between her 4th-floor condo in the Pearl and the street-level merchants who greet her sweet demeanor with fellowship and a biscuit. Hannah is an emerging generation of condo dogs who, to live indoors, must be tested and certified as good citizens.

This good-citizen mandate stands in bylaws for condominiums built by Hoyt Street Properties, a Pearl developer and the nation’s first condo builder to require the pledge. To view Pearl properties that allow pets visit Portland and Pets.

Pearl Websites

First Thursday in The Pearl

On First Thursday, art galleries are open for extended hours on the first Thursday, each month. Usually, the hours are from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm. Most galleries offer free wine, and visitors mingle with the artists. First Thursday gallery opening receptions are free and open to the public. Below is a video explaining the history of First Thursday along with a visit to the Lawrence Gallery.

Walking in the Pearl

The Pearl is pedestrian heaven! It’s laid out on an easy grid of numbered streets running north to south and named streets are in alphabetical order and run east to west. The Portland Streetcar connects an area south of downtown called South Waterfront and the Nob Hill business district. You can ride free on the streetcar line in the area between downtown and Irving Street in the Pearl. Portland is the most bicycle friendly town in America and bike racks, bike lanes, and bike safety is in abundance in the Pearl.

Here are some walking tours in the downtown area of Portland:

  • Public Art Walking Tour The Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC) along with the Portland Oregon Visitors Association have a Public Art Walking Tour map/brochure – a colorful guide to nearly 100 public art pieces in downtown Portland and the near eastside. This free brochure is available at Portland-area visitor centers, or by calling RACC at (503) 823-5111. You can also download a copy by clicking here.
  • Walking Tour to Pittock Mansion This 2.8-mile walk begins in Northwest Portland and climbs some of the city’s longest staircases through Westover Heights. It ends at the Pittock Mansion, a restored French Renaissance Revival Chateau. The home, its grounds, and fabulous views are open to the public. Click here to download the guide.
  • Walking Tour Nob Hill and the Pearl District  This 3.3-mile walk begins at PGE Park it takes you through historic neighborhoods to shops, galleries, restaurants, and theaters in the Pearl District and Nob Hill. Click here to download the guide.
  • Portland’s First Parks  Although neither the Plaza Blocks or the South Park Blocks are located in the Pearl, its worth the time and effort to explore these areas. The Plaza Blocks and the South Park Blocks were set aside for public use in 1852 and became the city’s first parks. The South Parks forms a green corridor through the cultural heart of Portland.Surrounded by the Portland Art Museum, the Oregon Historical Center, the Portland Center for the Performing Arts, and Portland State University, the blocks form a lovely garden backdrop for Portland’s lectures, concerts, and collections; Click here to download the guide.
  • South Parks Tree Walk  Portland State University students surveyed the South Park Blocks trees in 2004, and this data was used to appraise the value of the trees according to the Council of Landscape & Tree Appraisers Guide. They determined the trees in the park were worth more that $3.4 million. Click here to download the guide.
  • The NW23rd/Pearl District Gallery & Walking Map  The combined Northwest District (aka Alphabet District, Nob Hill, or NW23rd) and Pearl Gallery map provides key information for Portland First Thursday gallery walkers. Galleries, public art, restaurants, coffeehouses, pubs & bakeries are clearly labeled on the map and in the index. Parking, mass transit, and key landmarks are shown. If your time is limited, you can see at a glance what blocks have the greatest density of galleries, bakeries, or restaurants. Click here to download the map.
  • The Pearl Gallery Map  The map provides key information for Portland First Thursday gallery walkers. Galleries, public art, restaurants, coffeehouses, pubs & bakeries are clearly labeled on the map and in the index. Parking, mass transit, and key landmarks are shown. If your time is limited, you can see at a glance what blocks have the greatest density of galleries, or restaurants. Click here to download the map.

Walk Score helps you find a walkable place to live. Walk Score is a number between 0 and 100 that measures the walkability of any address.  Portland is the 14th most walkable city in the U.S. with a Walk Score of 63, a Transit Score of 50 and a Bike Score of 72. There are over 3,000 restaurants and coffee shops in Portland. People in Portland can walk to an average of five restaurants, bars and coffee shops in five minutes.

The Walk Score for the Pearl District neighborhood is 96, the Transit Score is 85, and the Bike Score is 97.

Pearl

Walker’s Paradise

Walk Score®

96

out of 100

Pearl is the 1st most walkable neighborhood in Portland.

Find Pearl apartments on Walk Score

More About the Pearl District

Learn more about the Pearl District by visiting Portland Maps. The site provides you with a list of businesses, demographic data, crime stats, parks, schools, aerial photos, maps, elevation, and more about the Pearl. All you need is a property address — use ”323 NW 12th Avenue” or an address of your choice.

  • Location  North downtown neighborhood which means you are north of Burnside. Pearl streets are all labeled “NW . . .” Cross over the I-405 freeway and you’re in the Nob Hill neighborhood.
  • Neighborhood Association Website and Blog  The Pearl District Neighborhood Association was founded in 1991. 
  • WiFi Locations  Discover the best coffee shops, cafes, bars, coworking and alternative spaces to get work done in the Portland area. Explore popular categories like real-time density, reliable wifi, has power, and more.
  • Pearl District Boundaries  Its boundaries are formed by W Burnside Street on the south and NW Broadway to the east. The Fremont Bridge frames the north end of the Pearl, becoming the Interstate 405 Freeway that cradles its western boundary. The softer boundaries of the neighborhood are NW 9th Ave to the east and Northrup to the north.  The neighborhood encompasses the North Park Blocks, the 13th Avenue Historic District, the city’s Main Post Office.
  • Map of Boundaries  Pearl District
  • 2Drive Time to Downtown  Four minutes.
  • Topography  Flat and trees lining most streets. The Pearl is an urban/city grid layout.
  • Sidewalks and Streets  Streets are crowded with parked cars. Wide sidewalks for walking with friends and family.
  • Public Transportation  The Pearl has all three types of public transportation. The Portland streetcar line connects the Pearl with the Northwest District, downtown, RiverPlace, South Waterfront and inner eastside. The MAX Light Rail line runs just a few blocks east of the Pearl in the Old Town/Chinatown neighborhood. TriMet has seven bus routes in the Pearl. Transit Score provides a 0-100 rating indicating how well an address is served by public transportation. Ratings range from “Rider’s Paradises” to areas with limited or no nearby public transportation.
  • Commuting  15.2% of the neighborhood residents commute using public transportation, 5.1% bike, and 22.8% walk.
  • 3Census 2010 Demographics  Population: 5,997. Area size: 285 acres. Average population density 21 persons per acre. Number of households: 5,315. Average size of household: 1.13. Median household income: $45,857. Percent of homeowners: 36%. Percent of renters: 64%. Diversity: 15% non-Caucasian. More census data about the Pearl District at Portland Online.
  • 4Crime Stats  There were 1,020 property crimes  (assault, arson, burglary, larceny, robbery, theft from auto, vehicle theft) in 2014. There were 42 violent crimes (aggravated assault, homicide, robbery, rape) committed in 2014. There were 187 crimes per 1,000 residents in 2014. For the latest crime statistics and historical stats for the Pearl District neighborhood, visit the Portland Police Bureau website.
  • Sex Offenders  Click here for the State of Oregon Sex Offender Inquiry System. After agreeing to the “Conditions of Use Statement” you will be redirected to an “Enter Search Criteria” page. Insert a zip code in the “Zip” field and click on the “Query” button. Pearl District zip code: 97209.
  • 5Shopping and Services  Number of supermarkets: 3. Number of health clubs: 5. Number of coffee shops: 10. Two markets, Whole Foods on the south side of the neighborhood and Safeway on the north side make for convenient food shopping in the Pearl. World Foods is a 10,000-square food market features products from more than 55 countries. It has a produce department offering organic options and a meat and seafood section and butcher shop, chef-run deli, and a beer and wine bar.  Located at the corner of NW 9th and Everett, this is Barbur World Foods second store in the Portland area. The Pearl Bakery and Holden’s (deli) are also good bets for quality food items. If you want a piece of art, galleries are numerous as well as many home boutiques. You can find just about everything you need in the Pearl to outfit your new condo. Powell’s City of Books, the largest independent bookstore in the USA, features a city block’s worth (68,000 square feet) of new and used books.
  • Farmers Market  The Wednesday market is held between SW Salmon and Main streets on Wednesdays, May-October. The Saturday market is held at the South Park Blocks by Portland State University between SW Park and Montgomery streets on Saturdays, March-October — also in November-December. The Northwest District/Nob Hill market is on Thursdays, June-September. The Pioneer Square (SW Broadway & SW Morrison) market is held on Mondays from June-September. More information at Portland Farmers Market.
  • Eating Out  Every type of ethnic food is now available in the Pearl to include Pacific Northwest cuisine. The Pearl has numerous coffee shops and a couple of places serve a hearty breakfast and a “workingman” lunch. Top choices for Pearl restaurants include Andina, Bluehour, Caffe Allora, Daily Cafe, Fenouil, Le Bouchon, Olea, Park Kitchen, and Sungari Pearl. The Urban Spoon lists Pearl restaurants with short reviews from local publications.
  • Public Library  Hop on the streetcar and head on over to the to the Multnomah County Central Library in downtown Portland or the Northwest District branch located at 2300 NW Thurman Street.
  • Who Lives in the Pearl  Academy-Award nominated director Gus Van Sant. Kathryn Dawn Lang was known by her stage name k.d. lang, a Canadian pop and country singer-songwriter and occasional actress.
  • What They Drive in the Pearl District  You see lots of Hondas and Toyotas – also a few BMWs and Audis. A limited number of SUVs. Car ownership is limited due to parking. If a Pearl District resident needs a car, they can rent one or use Zipcar.
  • 6Biking  Quality is high. The Pearl has 4.3 miles of bike lanes.

Map of the Pearl Neighborhood

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1Real Estate Values  Data on real estate values provided by RMLStm. Distressed properties refer to the percentage of total homes sold that were short sales and bank-owned properties. The One Year Median Sale Price Percent Change is based on a comparison of the rolling average sale price for the last 12 months with the 12 months before — this is an example for 2014:  (1/1/2014 – 12/31/2014) with 12 months before (1/1/2013 – 12/31/2015). The Five Year Median Sales Price Percent Change is calculated in the same way using a five-year time span.
2Drive Time to Downtown  Estimated commuting time obtained from Yahoo Maps and Google Maps. Drive time was calculated from a central intersection in each neighborhood to Pioneer Courthouse Square during the morning peak commute time.
3Demographics Data   Numbers were obtained from Census 2010 and www.portlandmaps.com.
4Crime Statistics  Numbers on crime were obtained from Portland Police Bureau. The Uniform Crime Reports documents crimes in three categories: Part I, Part II-A, and Part II-B. Part I crimes are classified as either violent or property crimes. Aggravated assault, forcible rape, murder, and robbery are classified as violent while arson, burglary, larceny-theft, and motor vehicle theft are classified as property crimes. Part II-A crimes are drugs, embezzlement, forgery, fraud, prostitution, sex offenses, simple assault, stolen property, vandalism, and weapons. Crimes per 1,000 figures are based on reported incidents of violent crime as well as larceny, burglary, and vehicle theft. For the latest crime statistics and historical stats for the Pearl District neighborhood, visit the Portland Police Bureau website. 
5Shopping and Services  Numbers were determined from local directory listings and county/municipal library systems.
6Biking  Quality  Rating based on the 2007 Cycle Zone Analysis conducted by the City of Portland Office of Transportation. The six-tier ratings have been reduced to three levels: High, Fair, and Low.