Newcomer's Handbook Portland

Neighborhoods and Communities

The neighborhood and community profiles below are intended to help you get a feel for the character of each Portland neighborhood or suburban community. There is no substitute for scouting out a neighborhood in person or meeting face-to-face with a knowledgeable local real estate agent, but these introductions will let you know what to expect.

City of Portland

Boundaries: North: Columbia River; West: Beaverton; Cedar Mill, West Haven, West Slope, Raleigh Hills, Garden Home (unincorporated Washington County); Tigard; South: Lake Oswego; Dunthorpe (unincorporated Multnomah and Clackamas counties); Milwaukie; Clackamas (unincorporated Clackamas County); Happy Valley; East: Gresham; Unincorporated Multnomah County; Area: 145 square miles; Population: 610,000

Oregon’s largest city is, above all, a city of neighborhoods. Portland’s Office of Neighborhood Involvement (portlandoregon.gov/oni/) officially recognizes more than 90 neighborhood associations, although the names and boundaries of the “official” neighborhoods don’t necessarily correspond to commonly used neighborhood designations. Every one of these neighborhoods is unique. Many Portland neighborhoods began as small communities located outside the city limits, while others sprang into being along new electric streetcar lines in the early 20th century (just as new developments today sometimes follow freeways), and these older neighborhoods tend to have a distinct and cohesive feel. Neighborhoods developed in the postwar, automobile-oriented era are generally more homogeneous, but they are not nearly as interchangeable as their detractors would have you believe.

The Willamette River cleaves Portland into two very different realms, the Westside and the Eastside, and many Portlanders swear that never the twain shall meet. Some people consider it a minor sport to mock the denizens of the opposite side of the river with crude stereotypes—Westsiders are rich, conceited, materialistic, and car-bound, Eastsiders are methhead yokels, flag-burning communists, or bike Nazis—that in most cases are simply false. In fact, wealth and poverty, crime and security, liberals and conservatives, are found in every quadrant of the city (albeit in varying concentrations), and the two halves of Portland have much more in common with one another than either half does with, say, Houston. In short, don’t let mean-spirited stereotypes cause you to write off entire sections of the city; explore without preconceptions, and determine for yourself what neighborhood feels like the best fit.

A final note on Portland neighborhoods: East Burnside Street forms the official boundary between Northeast and Southeast Portland, but most people (including the Office of Neighborhood Involvement) consider the less surmountable Banfield Freeway (Interstate 84) to be the informal boundary between them. This chapter follows the unofficial convention.

Portland City Map
City of Portland

The West Side

Downtown Portland and Environs

Boundaries: North: Interstate 405; Burnside Street (west of 405); West: Interstate 405 (north of Burnside); Washington Park; South: Interstate 405, Sunset Highway (US 26); East: Willamette River

Downtown Portland
Neighborhood Association: Downtown Portland

Downtown Portland is generally understood to encompass the city’s central business district and the immediately surrounding area within the Interstate 405 loop and south of Burnside Street. Downtown occupies the west bank of the Willamette River, on the site where the city was founded in 1845. This former riverside clearcut—the original Stumptown—has been the commercial and cultural heart of the city and of Oregon as a whole for more than 150 years.

Downtown Portland

Today, downtown is a mix of new and old buildings on sites with evolving uses: Pioneer Courthouse Square, the city’s innovative “living room,” was by turns a school, the opulent Portland Hotel, and a parking lot. Most downtown structures are commercial or civic in nature—office buildings, retail stores, courthouses, etc.—and while the area remains reasonably vibrant even after business hours, relatively few people have chosen to live here. Until very recently, the few housing units in the heart of downtown tended to fall into the “transitional” or residential hotel category, with a few notable exceptions (such as the luxury condominiums on the upper floors of the KOIN Center [Tower]). A few new market-rent apartment and condominium towers have been built or are under construction in the core area, however, especially in or near the so-called Cultural District along Broadway and the South Park Blocks, home of the Portland Center for the Performing Arts, the Portland Art Museum, and the Oregon Historical Society. For its few residents, this neighborhood offers not only the eponymous cultural offerings—art, theatre, movies, and more—just footsteps away, but also some of the city’s best restaurants, such as local stalwart Higgins (higginsportland.com).

Cultural District

The Cultural District overlaps the once-forlorn West End, a region located roughly between Park Avenue and Interstate 405, which is now perhaps the hottest, hippest part of downtown. Traditionally, somewhat shabby subsidized housing has been the residential norm in this area, which also features several historic churches, some low-rent office and retail buildings, and various bars and parking lots. In the past few years, this area has undergone rapid redevelopment, spurred in part by the dramatic evolution of the Pearl District just across Burnside. Apartments are being spiffed up, new condominiums are rising, and trendy boutiques, restaurants, bakeries, food cart pods, and other interesting businesses like Living Room Theaters (livingroomtheaters.com) on 10th Avenue have colonized the area. Also on 10th, the Safeway supermarket, once locally known as the “scary Safeway” because of its many mentally ill or drug-addled customers (who have not entirely gone away), has been reconstructed as the centerpiece of the mixed-use Museum Place complex; the spiffy Eliot Tower condominium building is just across the street. The beautifully restored Central Library, unquestionably one of the finest historic library buildings on the West Coast, stands proudly down the street. Wind turbines sprout improbably (and largely symbolically, given Portland’s low average wind speeds) from the roof of the ultra-modern Indigo@TwelveWest apartment tower. The Portland Streetcar, which trundles along 10th and 11th Avenues, arguably has helped spur investment in the area.

The edgy, quirky Ace Hotel (acehotel.com) on Stark Street has become an unexpected darling of the travel press, and anchors the northern portion of the West End, which includes the “Burnside Triangle,” one of the less salacious names for the triangular wedge between West Burnside Street and Southwest Alder Street. (The Burnside Triangle has long been a center of the Portland gay community.) Despite the rise in the West End’s fortunes, the area still features a dwindling number of surface parking lots, a few derelict buildings, and more than a few panhandlers, but the physical structure of the neighborhood, at least, is rapidly changing.

Portland State University dominates the south end of downtown, which has accordingly been dubbed the University District. Much of the housing in this end of downtown is intended for and occupied by students, with all that implies for the condition of, and noise level in, buildings. The extension of the Portland Streetcar through the PSU campus to the South Waterfront district, the new MAX lines along the transit mall, and the growth of PSU’s physical plant have all encouraged the construction of new condominiums, apartment buildings, and academic buildings in the area, and some of the more dilapidated structures are being demolished.

University District

Between PSU and the Willamette River, the southern end of downtown was a vibrant residential zone until the early 1970s, when it was razed in the name of urban renewal. This area includes the Keller Auditorium, a few small parks, various nondescript office buildings, and several semi-upscale residential towers, some with magnificent river and mountain views. Along the riverfront, adjacent to the RiverPlace hotel and a small marina, are several condominium complexes; these include both low-rise traditional condos and newer condo towers with views of the river, the city skyline, and the Marquam Bridge looming just to the south.

Downtown Portland is possibly the only part of the city in which having a car is not merely optional but a positive liability. Ongoing construction projects periodically wreak havoc with automobile traffic; moreover, because downtown Portland was platted before the rest of the city, the streets are not oriented to true north, but instead to magnetic north. (The reason for this is unclear, although presumably early planners tried to plat numbered streets to run parallel to the waterfront along the Willamette.) As a result, the corners where east-west downtown streets intersect Burnside are acute angles; a number of interesting wedge-shaped, mini-Flatiron-style buildings occupy the resulting oddly shaped lots. These corners may be picturesque, but they can be difficult to navigate. Fortunately, downtown Portland is pedestrian-friendly; assuming you can endure the ubiquitous and often creative panhandlers, the poorly timed lights, and the confused suburbanite drivers trying to focus on navigating instead of looking out for pedestrians; new aluminum directional signs help orient touristic foot travelers. Downtown is also the hub of the region’s transit system, with frequent bus, light rail, and streetcar service within downtown and to other parts of the city. Downtown Portland has an abundance of retail shops of all kinds, but they are scattered throughout the city core rather than concentrated in one small area, although the West End is starting to generate a critical mass of boutiques. In addition, other than the Safeway there are no large supermarkets in the downtown core; you may need to drive or hop on a bus or the streetcar to buy groceries. If you’re looking for a densely urban environment with plenty of residential options and amenities, high-end boutiques galore, and hip restaurants on every corner, you might be happier in the Pearl.

No one moves to downtown Portland for its wide open spaces, but several parks nonetheless provide opportunities to stretch your legs, get some fresh air, and maybe witness a drug deal or two. Waterfront Park and the leafy South Park Blocks are downtown’s prime parklands, but smaller parks like the Plaza Blocks, between 3rd and 4th Avenues near the county and federal courthouses, provide additional oases of green in the heart of the city. The parks also provide a home for several farmers’ markets. (See portlandfarmersmarket.org for details.)

Goose Hollow
Neighborhood Association: Goose Hollow

Goose Hollow is a social and topographical transition zone between relatively flat downtown Portland and the loftier and more genteel precincts of the West Hills. The neighborhood was once dotted with grand Victorian- and Edwardian-era homes, many of which are still standing; most of these structures have been divided into condos or professional offices, but a few remain in use as very impressive single-family homes. (Most of these older homes have enough historical or architectural significance to warrant a formal name, e.g., The McMaster House on SW Vista.) At the south end of the neighborhood, Gander Ridge and Vista Ridge, which form the rims of the “hollow” for which Goose Hollow is named, contain an abundance of older homes and winding streets that are more reminiscent of Portland Heights. Lower down, a wave of building in the 1920s left a legacy of attractive old-fashioned apartments, especially near Southwest Vista Avenue, while later apartment construction resulted in a crop of high-rises, some with magnificent views.

Goose Hollow

Many of the neighborhood’s historic buildings were lost to the wrecking ball in the 1960s, especially in the lower part of the neighborhood, which is now largely devoted to non-residential uses, including the Providence Park stadium, Lincoln High School, a few manufacturing facilities and auto-related businesses, and the exclusive Multnomah Athletic Club (if you want in, make friends with a member and take a lottery number). As proximity to the Pearl District and downtown has become more desirable in recent years, some new condominium projects have sprung up, especially in the vicinity of Providence Park and along Southwest Jefferson Street.

With a few exceptions, most notably the Goose Hollow Inn (goosehollowinn.com) owned by former Portland mayor Bud Clark (who gained minor celebrity as the flasher in the popular “Expose Yourself to Art” poster), the neighborhood lacks much in the way of dining or shopping except along the fringes, close to Interstate 405 or along Burnside. Nonetheless, it is a quick stroll from almost any point in Goose Hollow to the tantalizing offerings of downtown Portland or Northwest 23rd Avenue. (Keep in mind that your walk home will invariably be uphill.) Moreover, transit service is very good: several bus lines pass through or along the edges of the neighborhood, and the Westside MAX light rail line passes right through Goose Hollow, with stops at Providence Park, Kings Hill/SW Salmon, and Goose Hollow/SW Jefferson.

Goose Hollow’s central location and semi-urban ambiance have made it popular with a diverse set of residents—PSU students near Columbia and Jefferson streets, empty nesters, retirees, young professionals, twenty-something hipsters, and even some families who are happy to take advantage of the well-regarded public schools that serve the neighborhood (Chapman Elementary, West Sylvan Middle, and Lincoln High). At the same time, these characteristics have made Goose Hollow a relatively expensive neighborhood in which to rent or buy housing; this is especially if you’re looking for a single-family home rather than a condo or apartment. While Goose Hollow itself is densely populated, the upper (western) end of the neighborhood lies on the doorstep of 130-acre Washington Park. Note that, while on-street parking is generally free (if not necessarily easy to find) in the neighborhood, a resident parking permit is required for long-term and overnight parking.

Old Town and the Pearl District
Neighborhood Associations: Old Town–Chinatown, Pearl

It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. These two adjacent neighborhoods that lie just north of West Burnside Street tell, if not a tale of two cities, at least a tale of two districts with very different fortunes. Just to the northwest of the downtown skyscrapers luxuriates Portland’s urban Cinderella, the Pearl District. The Pearl is Portland’s closest analogue to New York’s SoHo. Like SoHo, it was once a warehouse district where real artists lived and worked; also like SoHo, it has been redeveloped and gentrified to such a degree that most working artists have been priced out and have moved elsewhere. As for the name, the story goes that the neighborhood’s old warehouses, like crusty oyster shells, contained hidden “pearls” in the form of galleries and lofts. Most of the warehouses have been wholly renovated (or just torn down) and while there are still plenty of galleries, the Pearl is now positively packed with trendy boutiques, creative workspaces, and some of the city’s best and most expensive restaurants. Thanks to its proximity to downtown and the laziness of some travel writers, the Pearl has been the focus of many recent articles, including features in the travel sections of the Los Angeles Times and The New York Times, and is now Portland’s go-to zone for whatever subset of the jet set drops into PDX.

Pearl District

While most neighborhoods contain discrete commercial districts, the Pearl is unique in Portland in that the entire neighborhood is basically a mixed-use quasi-commercial district. The modern furniture stores, fancy eateries, and offices (including some corporate headquarters) coexist with, and in many cases actually are part of, the neighborhood’s residential buildings. The area is awash in a sea of mostly new, mostly high-end lofts and condominiums, with a smattering of urban row houses in the idealized Brooklyn mode. Per-square-foot prices for residential real estate are probably the highest in the state, and are double, triple, or even quadruple the per-square-foot average in other neighborhoods. The median price is likewise high, but because most Pearl units are relatively compact—a small condo in a tower instead of a three-bedroom standalone house, for example—the price of an average housing unit is comparable to the cost in other desirable parts of the city. That said, rents are not quite as stratospheric as sale prices, and there are even a few affordable housing units scattered around. The Pearl’s wave of redevelopment started in the southern part of the neighborhood, near Powell’s Books, then quickly spread north (along with the streetcar line) a dozen blocks to Northrup Street and beyond. The newest developments are generally in the northern part of the Pearl; some stand along the riverfront.

In part because of its high profile (and high prices), the Pearl District and its generally affluent inhabitants get hit with a lot of verbal vitriol. Part of this resentment is pure envy, but part of it is the perception that the Pearl is somehow antithetical to Portland values: unaffordable, unfriendly, sanitized, faux New York, increasingly dominated by out-of-state chains, and definitely not egalitarian. Residents who complain about the train whistles from railroad tracks that run along the edge of the neighborhood, and which long predated the construction of their gleaming lofts, do not help to erase this perception. (The tax abatements that were given to condo developers didn’t do much to alleviate resentment, either.) Still, the Pearl is a great place to wander around, on foot or by streetcar, and it exerts a strong pull for both affluent young professionals and empty nesters.

A few businesses, like Powell’s Books (powells.com), the Pearl Bakery (pearlbakery.com), and greasy spoon Fuller’s Coffee Shop (possibly the only Pearl business with no website) are holdovers from the days before the district’s virtually wholesale transformation into Trend Central. Another holdover is First Thursday—the first Thursday evening of each month—when gallery owners and other businesses throw open their doors to the public. (Of late, First Thursday is more about the scene—and being seen—than about art, but it can still be a lot of fun.) Some of the more architecturally interesting buildings in the Pearl are the mixed-use Brewery Blocks, on the site of the old Henry Weinhard brewery; the old Portland Armory, which has undergone a “green” makeover into the Gerding Theater, home of Portland Center Stage; and the Ecotrust building, a repurposed warehouse that is a model of sustainable design. (It even has an eco-roof.) For several years, until a new Safeway opened in 2008, the only supermarket in the Pearl was a Whole Foods; this fact may tell you everything you need to know about the neighborhood’s demographics.

Some families with children live in the Pearl, in part because the area is so walkable and because the schools that serve it are excellent. Besides the high cost of even a two-bedroom pad, a possible drawback for families is the complete absence of yards and the relative dearth of parks. There are only three parks in the neighborhood—Jamison Square Park (popular for its fountains on summer days), Tanner Springs Park, and the North Park Blocks—and only the last of these is a “real” park with grass and a play structure. Highly regarded Emerson School, a public K–5 charter school, is conveniently located on the North Park Blocks, but has a long waitlist for enrollment.

Just across Northwest Broadway, yet worlds away, Old Town glowers blearily at its fortunate stepsister. Old Town is indeed filled with many old brick and masonry buildings, some of which date back to the 1870s and 1880s, and which in many cases still retain their original cast iron facades. The neighborhood is honeycombed with underground tunnels—the so-called Shanghai tunnels through which hapless, drunken saloon patrons were purportedly carried off to ships that needed crew members in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

A reputation as a haven for drug-dealing and a high concentration of homeless shelters, soup kitchens, and other social service providers has until recently limited Old Town’s appeal. Old Town has traditionally had few market-rent apartments or condos—most residential units were either subsidized or of the short-stay, transitional variety, and only about 20% of the neighborhood’s housing units are owner-occupied. The neighborhood also has a high concentration of paroled sex offenders, in part because few children live here (although, ironically, the area is served by some of the best public schools in the city).

Despite these grim facts, Old Town is undergoing a modest renaissance. Several apartment buildings and luxury loft-type condominiums have risen along the river and near Union Station, Portland’s quasi-Romanesque train station. (Union Station, built in 1896, is recognizable by the neon “Go By Train” sign on the station’s clock tower and is still an active passenger station, with trains heading north to Seattle and Vancouver, British Columbia, south to Eugene and California, and east to Spokane, St. Paul, and Chicago.) Although they are subject to train-related noise, these housing units offer central location with enviable transit access and, in some cases, gorgeous city views. A number of historic buildings are being renovated, and restaurants and shops have opened to serve employees of businesses that have moved their offices here to take advantage of relatively cheap rents. Tens of millions of dollars of new investment are planned for Old Town over the next few years, and it is likely that this cash infusion, combined with bubble-over effects from the Pearl, will create dramatic changes in the neighborhood in the near future.

Old Town has a couple of notable sub-neighborhoods. Skidmore Historic District, which extends south under the Burnside Bridge along the waterfront, is home to the long-running Portland Saturday Market (portlandsaturdaymarket.com), as well as a host of nightclubs. Chinatown, easily identified by the Chinatown Gate that looms over Fourth Avenue at West Burnside and by a cluster of Chinese restaurants, is a shadow of its former self: most of the area’s Chinese residents and some of its businesses have long since decamped to other city or suburban neighborhoods, notably the area around 82nd Avenue in the outer Eastside. Nonetheless, Chinatown is home to the lovely Lan Su Chinese Garden (lansugarden.org). Near the Chinatown Gate, on a private lot at the corner of West Burnside and Northwest Fourth Avenue, the Right 2 Dream Too semi-permanent homeless camp is adorned by a series of painted and decorated doors that form a sort of palisade around the camp. The camp, which is operated by a local nonprofit, is searching for a new home. After reading this section, you may not be surprised to learn that plans to move to the Pearl District were not met with open arms.

Old Town/Chinatown

Both Old Town and the Pearl District are unusually well served by transit. The downtown Portland transit mall with bus and MAX light rail service extends along 5th and 6th Avenues to Union Station; the MAX lines continue over the Steel Bridge at the north end of Old Town. A separate MAX line runs along 1st Avenue, with stops at Skidmore Fountain (under the Burnside Bridge) and Old Town/Chinatown. The NS Portland Streetcar route runs north-south along 10th and 11th Avenues to Lovejoy and Northrup Streets, at which point the line turns and runs east-west as far as Northwest 23rd. The CL streetcar line shares the NS route to as far as Lovejoy, then branches off and crosses the Broadway Bridge near Union Station.

ZIP Codes
97201, 97204, 97205, 97209
Post Offices
Central Post Office, 204 SW 5th Ave; Portland Post Office, 715 NW Hoyt St; Waterfront Station, 101 SW Madison St
Police Station
Portland Police Bureau, Central Precinct, 1111 SW 2nd Ave, 503-823-3333 (non-emergency)
Emergency Hospitals
Legacy Emanuel Medical Center, 2801 N Gantenbein Ave, 503-413-2200, legacyhealth.org; Legacy Good Samaritan Medical Center, 1015 NW 22nd Ave, 503-413-7711, legacyhealth.org; OHSU Hospital, 3181 SW Sam Jackson Park Rd, 503-494-8311, ohsu.edu/xd/health/
Library
Central Library, 801 SW 10th Ave, 503-988-5123
Parks
Major parks include Washington Park, Waterfront Park, and the Park Blocks (north and south); portlandparks.org
Community Publication
Northwest Examiner, nwexaminer.com
Public Transportation
TriMet, 503-238-RIDE, trimet.org; comprehensive bus, light rail, and streetcar service.

The West Hills

Boundaries: North: Forest Park; Northwest Industrial District; West: Forest Heights; unincorporated Multnomah County; unincorporated Washington County; South: Hillsdale; Bridlemile; East: Downtown; Goose Hollow; Northwest Portland/Nob Hill; South Portland

Neighborhood Associations: Arlington Heights, Healy Heights, Hillside, Homestead, Northwest District, Southwest Hills, Sylvan-Highlands

When Art Alexakis, frontman of the Portland band Everclear, promises, “I will buy you a big house way up in the West Hills” (in the song “I Will Buy You a New Life”), he is channeling the aspirations of generations of Portlanders. Not every house in the West Hills is big—some are tiny, in fact—and not everyone who lives here is rich or even upper-middle class. But ever since the late 19th century, when timber barons, successful merchants, and other members of the city’s incipient upper crust began to literally look down on flatlanders from their lofty palaces, the West Hills have been the destination of choice for many socially and financially successful Portlanders.

It’s not hard to see why. The West Hills is the colloquial name for the portion of the Tualatin Mountains that parallels the Willamette River to the west and forms the backdrop to downtown Portland. The hills rise to more than 1,000 feet above sea level in places, and the often fog-shrouded slopes and canyons are forested with mature conifers. Many homes here have incomparable views—a few choice homes offer expansive vistas of virtually the entire city, along with several snow-capped volcanoes—and others feel as if they are well-appointed cabins in the woods. The icing on the West Hills cake is the incredible proximity of these woodsy neighborhoods to downtown Portland—some West Hills homes are a five-minute drive (and perhaps a 30-minute walk) from the center of the city.

Many less fortunate (or simply hipper) Portlanders mock denizens of the West Hills, sometimes out of envy, and sometimes—well, in any city (except perhaps Los Angeles), tanned, well-coifed people zipping to their Botox appointments in luxury SUVs will be a target of derision. While the stereotype of the mansion-dwelling executive certainly applies to some residents, the reality is that the neighborhoods of the West Hills feature residents with a mix of ages, professions, educational backgrounds, and incomes, and many of these supposed snobs are actually quite unassuming people. West Hills houses are equally heterogeneous, and the area encompasses several distinct neighborhoods with different characteristics. Yes, there are ridiculously huge mansions that look as if they were brought over lock, stock, and barrel from Sussex, but there are also small, wisteria-shrouded cottages, charming bungalows, unrenovated 1950s ranches, and the city’s highest concentration of custom-designed homes; many of the latter are sleekly modern and decidedly not fuddy-duddy. To cope with steep slopes, quite a few houses are built on piers or stilts: the structures jut out over the hillside, with a gulf underneath. From the street, only a garage (or garages) and a front door are visible, and sometimes passers-by see only a wall with a gate. These houses usually have decks, but yards are clearly impossible.

Not every block in the West Hills is actually hilly, but the entire area is laced with narrow, winding, steep streets that utterly abandon the city’s grid pattern and that make traveling through these neighborhoods a bit of an adventure (especially without a map, or during rare snow or ice storms). Virtually the entire West Hills region is at risk from landslides, wildfire, and earthquake damage. An additional hazard is the acrimonious disputes that erupt when a tree in one person’s yard grows tall enough to block a neighbor’s mountain view. If you can live with these dangers, and have the money and desire to buy into the West Hills, read on.

Portland Heights

Just southwest of (but high above) downtown Portland, Portland Heights centers on a tiny commercial district, located around Southwest Vista Avenue and Spring Street (home of the aptly named Vista Spring Café, which serves up surprisingly good pizza), and unlike most other parts of the West Hills, the immediately surrounding area is on a plateau of sorts, so is relatively level and mostly adheres to a grid pattern. (Lamb’s at Stroheckers—just Strohecker’s to most people—an upscale supermarket, is just up the hill on Southwest Patton Road.) Ainsworth Elementary School, one of the top elementary schools in the city, is also at the intersection of Vista and Spring; the surrounding area has a strong attraction for affluent families with young children. The remainder of the neighborhood is a warren of narrow, winding streets carved into hillsides or tucked into shady dells; some homes have jaw-dropping views over the city, and many of the streets have a relatively European/English village feel (an impression that is deliberately accentuated by street names such as Georgian Place and English Court).

Portland Heights was largely developed in the ’teens and 1920s, and most homes here are in traditional styles—foursquares, bungalows, English Tudors, and colonials—and generally range in size from large to palatial. Many of the grandest old houses line Vista Avenue, south of the high bridge over Jefferson Street; a streetcar line once ran along Vista, and captains of industry in the late 19th century built to impress. Some newer contemporary and custom homes perch on the hillsides, particularly on slopes too steep for prewar engineering to manage. The sinuous streets leading up to Portland Heights from downtown feature an interesting cross-section of structures, from virtual mansions to condo complexes and even a few mossy, tumbledown shanties in the woods.

Portland Heights
Healy Heights, and Council Crest

Uphill to the south, Healy Heights and Council Crest occupy the loftiest real estate in Portland, and homes with a view feature similarly lofty prices. (Tiny Healy Heights has by far the highest average and median home prices of any neighborhood in the city, but the sample size is tiny.) These neighborhoods are draped across a saddle on the very pinnacle of the West Hills, between Council Crest Park (the highest point in the city, with a nearly 360-degree panorama) and the giant red-and-white KGON radio tower (officially now called Stonehenge tower, as it is owned by the Stonehenge Towers company) atop Healy Heights to the southeast. The Vista streetcar line once served Council Crest, which was home to an amusement park, complete with roller coaster, lookout tower, and, absurdly, a giant paddleboat in an artificial channel. Some homes, particularly on the north and northeast slopes of Council Crest, survive from this era—the park closed in 1929, just before the stock market crash of that year—but the majority of houses here date from the post–World War II period. The neighborhood includes some surprisingly modest 1950s ranch-style houses, as well as a large number of spacious, architect-designed dwellings; the latter are especially common on lots with prime views, especially those coveted eastward views taking in the city and the mountains. Level Fairmount Boulevard, a favorite walking and biking loop, encircles these high points; the downhill side of the street is lined with architecturally interesting “stilt” homes and other structures built to cope with steep slopes, including modified geodesic domes and other quirky dwellings. Council Crest’s labyrinthine street layout and confusing access routes tend to discourage nonresidents from driving through, except to visit the park (which closes to cars at 9 p.m. in summer and 7 p.m. in winter), and this neighborhood typically enjoys one of the lowest crime rates in the city. Despite its lofty perch, the neighborhood has some sidewalks and even a bus line, the modern descendant of the old streetcar line. This area is also a center of the Southwest Trails system, which threads through the hills and fans out into surrounding residential neighborhoods.

Healy Heights
Homestead

On the eastern slope of Council Crest, Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) is a sprawling complex of clinics, labs, classrooms, and hospitals that stands prominently atop Marquam Hill, a.k.a. “Pill Hill.” The compact Homestead neighborhood is tucked into the hills around and just above OHSU. While there are plenty of interesting single-family homes here, this area also features a large crop of apartment and condominium buildings, which primarily serve the population of medical students and residents at the university and its hospitals; unusually for the West Hills, the neighborhood population is evenly split between renters and owners. Many houses and apartments here have amazing Mount Hood views, while others back onto greenspaces like Marquam Nature Park. On-street parking is at a premium in and around OHSU, and resident parking permits are required for long-term parking. Terwilliger Boulevard connects the neighborhood to downtown and Hillsdale, while steep, windy Marquam Hill Road leads up to Fairmount Boulevard. Because of OHSU’s huge employee and patient base, the neighborhood is well served by bus transit, and is at the upper terminus of the Portland Aerial Tram.

Homestead
Arlington Heights

Arlington Heights, a small neighborhood south of Burnside, tucked in between Washington Park and Hoyt Arboretum, has experienced blistering growth in home prices in the last decade, and it is now one of the most expensive neighborhoods in the city on both an absolute and per-square-foot basis. It’s not hard to see the appeal of the neighborhood: residents enjoy practically backyard access to walking trails in the Arboretum and around Washington Park, yet are only minutes away from downtown and Northwest Portland. The majority of the homes here are of prewar vintage—grand English Tudor–style homes, shingled cottages, and the like—but some ranch houses were built in the 1950s, and some large custom homes have been built in recent years. The neighborhood has few through streets, and is very quiet—except on Sunday nights, when the Zoobombers tear down Fairview Boulevard. The Zoobombing phenomenon involves a group of grownups who modify kids’ bikes, tall bikes, and other two-wheeled vehicles (often removing brakes and other critical components in the process), take them on the MAX line to the Oregon Zoo, then blast downhill to Goose Hollow, where they hop back on the MAX and repeat the process. The Zoobombers maintain a “pile” of minibikes at Southwest 13th and Burnside. The Zoobombers are largely self-regulating, and police calls are infrequent, but some Arlington Heights residents are not enamored of this group.

Arlington Heights
Kings Heights

Across Burnside Road to the north, Kings Heights, also known as the Hillside neighborhood, spreads across the hillside (hence the nickname) above the bustle of Northwest 23rd Avenue and below the grandest West Hills palace of them all, Pittock Mansion (pittockmansion.org). Most of the homes on the steep, switchbacking streets are gracious older homes, in a variety of styles but typically a jumbo variation on the bungalow, foursquare, or half-timbered theme. Many of these homes are truly grand, multilevel affairs, while others are more modest but still charming. Given the slope, many of these homes lack much of a yard but have fantastic city, river, and/or mountain views. Some condominium complexes have been built in the lower reaches of the neighborhood. Tiny Hillside Park, with its small community center, indeed perches on the hillside in the middle of the neighborhood. The street layout can be highly confusing to the uninitiated; a network of stairways and shortcuts (also potentially confusing to the uninitiated) connects the various levels of the neighborhood and provides pedestrian access to the shops and restaurants of Northwest. This layout is also confusing to crooks, apparently; the Hillside neighborhood has one of the lowest crime rates in the city. Predictably, Kings Heights is one of the most expensive neighborhoods in Portland.

Kings Heights
Willamette Heights

A bit further north, across Cornell Road, Willamette Heights lies at the doorstep of the foggy fastness of Forest Park; some homes are literally a stone’s throw from a trailhead, and the neighborhood’s main thoroughfare, Northwest Thurman Street, dead-ends at Leif Erikson Drive, the main mountain bike route into the park. Willamette Heights is full of grand early-20th-century homes, some of which stand high above the street with only a steep staircase for access. Most views here are northward, over the industrial district and Willamette River toward Mount St. Helens, although many homes are tucked into woodsy ravines with no views at all. One of the neighborhood’s significant advantages is its proximity not only to Forest Park and the Northwest 23rd district, but also to the commercial zone along Thurman Street itself west of 23rd; neighborhood fixtures include St. Honoré Boulangerie (sthonorebakery.com); Kenny & Zuke’s Bagelworks (kennyandzukes.com), where the bagels are properly boiled; and Food Front Cooperative Grocery (foodfront.coop). The Northwest branch library is also located here. The lower end of Thurman Street has seen the construction of several small-scale modern apartment buildings and condos in recent years, which mingle with the remaining old homes, but most residences in this area are single-family structures or duplexes. For a literary perspective on the thoroughfare, you might want to grab a copy of Thurman Street resident Ursula K. LeGuin’s Blue Moon Over Thurman Street. (For information about Forest Heights, Linnton, and other neighborhoods near Forest Park, see “Forest Park and Environs” below.)

Willamette Heights
Sylvan

West of the main ridge of the West Hills—in the neighborhoods along Skyline Boulevard near Sylvan, where the Sunset Highway crests the hills on its congested way to Beaverton—development is far less dense and generally newer, with homes dating anywhere from the 1950s to last week. The area just north of the Sylvan exit has a concentration of small office buildings, restaurants, and apartment complexes, but outside this zone many homes are on large lots, giving parts of the neighborhood a semi-rural feel. There is no typical home style here: houses run the gamut from nondescript boxes to thoughtfully designed, architecturally noteworthy structures tucked away in the woods. Some homes offer westward views over Washington County to the Coast Range. In addition to easy access to the Sunset Highway, Sylvan is close to Burnside, which provides an alternate commuting route to either downtown Portland or Beaverton/Hillsboro.

Sylvan
Southwest Hills

The neighborhoods south of the Sunset Highway, between Humphrey Boulevard and Patton Road, sometimes known as the Southwest Hills, share affinities with both Sylvan and Portland Heights. As in Sylvan, most homes date from the postwar period, and many are on large lots, but socio-economically the area has more in common with Portland Heights (with which it shares a neighborhood association, the Southwest Hills Residential League). Many homes are quite large and impressively landscaped, quite a few are set back from the road (in some cases, behind walls), and some offer expansive vistas to the northeast, west, or southwest. A gas station at the corner of Patton and Dosch, where the Southwest Hills, Portland Heights, and Council Crest meet, is the only commercial establishment in the area. This area, like Sylvan, is relatively close to downtown Portland and the Northwest District, but also offers easy access to the Sunset Highway for commuters to Washington County. It is often overlooked by newcomers who focus on more “name-brand” neighborhoods.

Southwest Hills

Given the terrain and the low population density, the West Hills enjoy surprisingly good bus service. Bus lines serve Portland Heights, Council Crest and Healy Heights, Willamette Heights, Kings Heights, the Homestead/OHSU neighborhood, Sylvan, and the area around Washington Park. In some areas, residents who live more than a few blocks from a bus line may have difficulty safely reaching the nearest bus stop.

ZIP Codes
97201, 97210, 97221, 97239
Post Office
Forest Park Post Office, 1706 NW 24th Ave; also see “Downtown Portland and Environs
Police Station
Portland Police Bureau, Central Precinct, 1111 SW 2nd Ave, 503-823-3333 (non-emergency)
Emergency Hospitals
Legacy Good Samaritan Medical Center, 1015 NW 22nd Ave, 503-413-7711, legacyhealth.org; OHSU Hospital, 3181 SW Sam Jackson Park Rd, 503-494-8311, ohsu.edu/xd/health/; Providence St. Vincent Medical Center, 9205 SW Barnes Rd, 503-216-1234, providence.org
Libraries
Central Library, 801 SW 10th Ave, 503-988-5123; Hillsdale Library, 1525 SW Sunset Blvd, 503-988-5388; Northwest Library, 2300 NW Thurman St, 503-988-5560
Parks
Several major parks, including Washington Park, Hoyt Arboretum, Council Crest Park, Macleay Park, Marquam Nature Park, Forest Park, and Keller Woodland; portlandparks.org
Community Publications
Northwest Examiner, nwexaminer.com; Southwest Community Connection, swcommconnection.com; Southwest Portland Post, swportlandpost.com; SW News, 503-823-4592, swni.org
Public Transportation
TriMet, 503-238-RIDE, trimet.org; bus service on several routes, MAX light rail service available at Washington Park; Portland Aerial Tram (gobytram.org) serves the Homestead neighborhood

Southwest Portland

Boundaries: North: Burnside Street (official); West Hills (unofficial); West: Beaverton; West Slope, Raleigh Hills, Garden Home (unincorporated Washington County); Tigard; South: Lake Oswego; East: Willamette River

With a few notable exceptions like Lair Hill, the South Waterfront district, and Multnomah Village, Southwest Portland as a whole feels more suburban than any other quadrant of the city. Many Portlanders from other parts of the city either dismiss the neighborhoods here as insufficiently interesting and too “white bread” or ignore them entirely. At the same time, many parts of Southwest Portland are closer to downtown, in terms of both distance and travel time, than some “urban” Eastside neighborhoods are, and no bridge crossing is required to get there. Southwest Portland is also one of the more family-friendly parts of the city, with generally good-to-excellent schools, relatively low crime rates, and plenty of open space; if you take the time to look, there are some decent restaurants and quirky shops, too.

That said, Southwest’s nightlife and cultural scene is admittedly inferior to the hot spots of the Pearl, Northwest Portland, and the Eastside, and the area also lacks some of the attributes that many newcomers to Portland seek. Most houses in this part of the city are postwar or newer structures, not the cute bungalows or English Tudor cottages of the older streetcar neighborhoods of the Eastside. An increasing interest in mid-century design, however, means that many Southwest neighborhoods are getting a second or third glance from newcomers who might once have sought out a century-old bungalow. The general lack of sidewalks discourages casual strolling, and the hilly terrain can make cycling a challenge, although the Southwest Trails network offers off-street and low-traffic routes for hikers. Some parts of Southwest Portland feel almost rural, with rutted, potholed, unpaved streets (a characteristic that disconcerts some people). Keep in mind that Southwest Portland, like all parts of the city, is comprised of a diverse set of neighborhoods; chances are that somewhere in Southwest may have the specific attributes you’re looking for.

South Portland
Neighborhood Association: South Portland (formerly Corbett–Terwilliger–Lair Hill)

The neighborhoods that border the west bank of the Willamette River south of downtown are among the oldest residential areas in Portland, yet also include some of the most rapidly changing parts of the city. The area offers a diverse range of housing and a quick commute to OHSU or to downtown Portland via various transit options, bicycle path, and a network of major roads: Barbur Boulevard, Interstate 5, Macadam Avenue, and Corbett Avenue. This easy access to highways is also a curse, however; the roads chop up entire neighborhoods, and many parts of South Portland are never free of the distant roar of traffic.

Lair Hill

The Lair Hill neighborhood occupies the lower slopes of Marquam Hill just south of Interstate 405 and downtown Portland. This compact area harbors the oldest largely intact residential development in the city, with a relative abundance of Victorian houses, including Queen Anne and Italianate styles, which are otherwise rare in Portland. These homes were built for workers, not captains of industry, so they are generally small. Many of these old homes have been beautifully renovated since the 1960s, when the then-blighted area was slated for demolition and “urban renewal.” The neighborhood is by no means pristine: some houses remain in poor or even dilapidated condition, several major thoroughfares cut through the area, and various more modern and not necessarily attractive buildings—small commercial buildings, apartments, and townhouses—have mixed in with the old homes. New condo and apartment buildings have been built in the vicinity of Duniway Park, primarily to serve the Portland State and OHSU populations. At the same time, the “bones” of the old neighborhood remain, and the close-in location is a significant draw for some newcomers.

Lair Hill

The shiny metallic pods of the Portland Aerial Tram soar over the south end of the neighborhood as they shuttle between OHSU atop the hill and the South Waterfront district on the east side of Interstate 5. Major controversy erupted when the tram was first proposed; most Lair Hill residents opposed the project, pointing out quite reasonably that it would not directly serve the neighborhood and that tram riders would be able to peer down directly into residents’ back yards. Despite these concerns, the tram was built and began operation in 2007. Local attitudes toward the tram are currently mixed; many residents still object to the invasion of privacy, but others embrace the tram as a new, distinctive neighborhood symbol.

South Waterfront

Meanwhile, in the South Waterfront district (which the tram directly serves, southwaterfront.com), the advent of this novel form of transportation (along with major financial incentives from the city) helped fuel a major construction boom. Once the province of shipbuilders and scrapyards, the district that sarcastic, syllable-challenged hipsters call SoWa now bristles with several new high-rises. OHSU’s Wellness Center, one of the greenest buildings in the country (the toilets use harvested rainwater), stands just off the freeway at the lower terminus of the tram. OHSU, which has run out of space on Pill Hill, claims to be planning a major expansion in this area. Meanwhile, several gleaming high-end condo towers rose here—just in time for the real estate bust and the resulting collapse in demand for units in gleaming high-end condo towers. The circular John Ross tower auctioned off many of its unsold units at (relative) fire-sale prices, and the developers of the Ardea scrapped the condo idea entirely and turned the place into a luxury apartment building. With the recovery of the real estate market, construction of several more buildings is planned or under way, and the semi-ghost-town vibe has largely vanished. The Portland Streetcar was extended to serve the South Waterfront in 2007, and a new MAX light-rail line will serve the neighborhood beginning in 2015, but the pace and extent of residential development in this area will likely depend on unpredictable economic factors, particularly on the state of the real estate market.

The city hopes that South Waterfront will have 5,000 residents by 2020, and planners and developers seem to be envisioning a sort of mini-Manhattan (or at least mini–Vancouver, BC)—or a Pearl District South—on the banks of the Willamette. These visions may be optimistic. Until recently, shops, restaurants, and other amenities that most people associate with dense urban living have been thin on the ground. Restaurants that have opened in the area, in particular, seem to have been cursed. South Waterfront may finally be getting some traction in this department, with new restaurants, a pub, a wine bar, and a bakery opening their doors in 2014. At the center of the neighborhood, Elizabeth Caruthers Park hosts occasional movies in the park and other community events, including a farmers’ market on Thursday afternoons and evenings from June through October. While South Waterfront still has detractors, it also has admirers, and many of its residents appreciate the close-in location along the river, the views, and the relative quietness of the neighborhood (barring traffic noise from nearby Interstate 5).

South Waterfront

The neighborhoods south of Lair Hill and the South Waterfront are a mix of commercial, residential, and light industrial uses. Terwilliger Boulevard was one of four city parkways that famed park planner John C. Olmsted envisioned for Portland at the beginning of the 20th century; it was the only one actually built, and today it winds along the slopes of Marquam Hill high above the rest of the city, passing just below OHSU. (If the boulevard’s name seems oddly familiar, it may be because The Simpsons creator Matt Groening appropriated “Terwilliger” as the surname for the show’s Sideshow Bob character.) A broad pedestrian path parallels the road, and the adjacent corridor is almost entirely semi-natural woodland. A small enclave of prewar single-family homes downhill from this parkway, along and off of Hamilton between Terwilliger and Barbur Boulevard, is within strolling distance of OHSU, and offers a rare combination of expansive views and sidewalks. This small, steep neighborhood is popular with doctors and others who work or study on Pill Hill.

Johns Landing

A cluster of apartment buildings, some of which are not visible from the street and which offer great views, perch on the slope downhill from Barbur Boulevard and uphill from Interstate 5. East of the freeway, newer offices, townhomes, and condos mix with bungalows and the occasional ranch-style or even modernist home. The Johns Landing area along Macadam Avenue is largely devoted to suburban-style office buildings, retail uses, and townhomes, condominium complexes, and apartment buildings, with some restaurants and bars thrown in for spice. Many of the residences have views of the Willamette River and Mount Hood. Johns Landing is also home to a community of houseboats floating in the Willamette. Further south, single-family homes reappear, mixed with townhomes and apartments, in the blocks west of Macadam Avenue and popular Willamette Park on the riverfront. A Zupan’s supermarket anchors the south end of the neighborhood at the lower end of Taylors Ferry Road. Uphill from Macadam, along the Corbett Street corridor, mostly older homes in various styles and various sizes have tremendous views over the river and out to Mount Hood.

Johns Landing

The neighborhoods of South Portland in general have a more transient population than some other parts of the city; more than half the residents are renters. Because of its abundant supply of rental housing and its close-in location, this area is a popular place for newcomers to settle, at least initially.

Hillsdale and Multnomah Village
Neighborhood Associations: Hillsdale, Multnomah
Hillsdale

Hillsdale (not to be confused with Hillsboro, a western suburb) combines a pleasant small-town/suburban ambiance with proximity and easy access to downtown Portland and OHSU. As its name suggests, the neighborhood straddles the lower slopes and dales of the West Hills, between Barbur Boulevard and Dosch Road/Bertha Boulevard. The heart of the neighborhood is Hillsdale Town Center, a 1950s-era business district along SW Capitol Highway that boasts boutiques, several popular restaurants and cafés such as Baker & Spice (bakerandspicebakery.com), a Food Front co-op supermarket, various service providers, and a green-built branch library. The Hillsdale Town Center area also encompasses the full range of K–12 public schools: Wilson High School, Robert Gray Middle School, and the highly regarded Mary Rieke Elementary School. The popular open-air Hillsdale Farmers’ Market (hillsdalefarmersmarket.com) takes place every Sunday during summer and twice per month in winter.

Hillsdale

Hillsdale’s amenities and convenient location appeal to young families, and the neighborhood is slowly turning over generationally as the original or second homeowners age. A fairly dramatic rise in home prices in the first decade of this century made the area prohibitively expensive for many entry-level buyers, however. Housing here is largely a mix of postwar single-family styles—Cape Cods, ranches, split-levels, and contemporary homes, many of them extensively remodeled—with daylight ranches (ranch homes built into the side of a hill, with a basement opening to ground level on the downhill side) perhaps the dominant type. A few older bungalows, English-style cottages, and farmhouses survive. (The latter are reminders of the old orchard and dairy farms that dominated the neighborhood until after the Second World War.) Some apartments and townhouses line the major thoroughfares. The Wilson Park neighborhood south of Wilson High School is a 1950s-era subdivision, with sidewalks; in the hilly terrain north of Capitol Highway, the sidewalks vanish, and many homes occupy steep, forested lots with expansive westward or southward views. Some of these homes are fairly ordinary (but not inexpensive) daylight ranches, notable mainly for their hillside perches, but others are dramatic modern structures, custom-designed for their sites. These hillside neighborhoods share many of the wildfire and landslide hazards of the West Hills (which, geographically if not necessarily socially, they are part of). The eastern part of the neighborhood has a heavy concentration of Cape Cods and colonials of various kinds; this area was once part of Burlingame until Interstate 5 was built and sundered this northern portion from the rest of Burlingame. Some of these homes, which are built on the east slope of the West Hills, have terrific views of Mount Hood and the Cascades.

If you’re in the vicinity of Seasons and Regions (seasonsandregions.com), a popular seafood restaurant in the 6600 block of Capitol Highway, you may notice, especially on Friday through Saturday evenings, a large number of folks walking by in traditional Orthodox Jewish attire. This block is home to the synagogue, day school, and more run by the Chabad Lubavitch of Portland group, and consequently the area is home to a large number of primarily Orthodox Jews. The Mittleman Jewish Community Center and attached Portland Jewish Academy, more or less across the street, serve a much more diverse group of both Jews and non-Jews.

Multnomah Village

Down Capitol Highway to the southwest, Multnomah Village bills itself as “the village in the heart of Portland.” This moniker, while not strictly true—it lies a full five miles from downtown—effectively conveys the neighborhood’s urban village vibe. (Built around an electric railway station, Multnomah was a village until Portland annexed it in the mid-20th century.) Like Hillsdale, Multnomah Village centers on a thriving business district (multnomahvillage.org), which encompasses several short blocks of antique stores, restaurants, bars, and quirky specialty shops; local favorites include Marco’s Café (marcoscafe.com), Thinker Toys (thinkertoysoregon.com), and independent bookstore Annie Bloom’s Books (annieblooms.com). The historic Multnomah Arts Center (a former school) hosts music and theater classes, exercise programs, and community events.

Multnomah Village

Multnomah Village was built out over a long period of time, and as a result has one of the city’s most diverse housing mixes. Although there are plenty of mid-century ranches and funky contemporary homes in the neighborhood, Multnomah has a larger stock of prewar bungalows and cottages than most other parts of Southwest Portland; recent infill development has also brought an onslaught of row houses, new custom homes, and even lofts. Some homes situated on the higher ridges have views of the Cascades or the Coast Range. Home prices here tend to be slightly lower than in Hillsdale, and there are a few truly dilapidated shacks on some streets. There are also an inordinate number of dead-end streets, some of which are rutted and unpaved, and the layout can be confusing to outsiders. Thanks in part to its older urban fabric and unorthodox street grid, the core of Multnomah Village is relatively pedestrian-friendly, and the area accordingly attracts lots of families with small children. The entire neighborhood is within walking distance of 90-acre Gabriel Park, and some streets dead-end into the park. Thousands of residents and visitors turn out each August for Multnomah Days, a two-day community celebration complete with street fair and parade. Multnomah Village is popular enough, and unusual enough in the context of Southwest Portland, that some real estate listings describe homes that are actually one or two miles away as being in or “close to” Multnomah Village.

Busy Barbur Boulevard, which parallels Interstate 5 and borders both Hillsdale and Multnomah on the south and east, is lined with supermarkets, fast-food restaurants, auto repair stores, and other services (some of a less than savory nature). Multnomah Village and the southern half of Hillsdale, including the Town Center, have frequent bus service to downtown Portland, Beaverton, and Tigard.

Bridlemile and Vermont Hills
Neighborhood Associations: Bridlemile, Hayhurst, Maplewood

As its unimaginative name suggests, Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway runs from the edge of Hillsdale west to Beaverton. Lined for miles by apartment complexes, restaurants, small businesses, supermarkets and strip malls, this thoroughfare is not especially inviting, but the pleasant neighborhoods on either side of the highway are popular with families and with others who are looking for a quiet lifestyle. These areas have many happy long-time residents, however, and there is typically a low inventory of houses for sale.

Bridlemile

To the north of the highway, Bridlemile is the sort of neighborhood that real estate agents describe as “coveted.” Not quite in (or of) the West Hills, Bridlemile nonetheless shares some of the characteristics of that area (including hills). Indeed, the boundary between these regions is indistinct: the neighborhood’s northeast corner is disputed territory claimed by both the Bridlemile Neighborhood Association and the Southwest Hills Residential League. Turf wars aside, Bridlemile is generally quiet and almost wholly residential. Lower Bridlemile, south of Hamilton Street, is largely comprised of relatively small, but by no means inexpensive, one-level ranch homes in tidy subdivisions like Brookford. North of Hamilton, houses are generally larger, and offer better views. Homes in the eastern end of the neighborhood generally date from the 1950s and 1960s; the median home age progressively declines as one travels west, and the western end of the neighborhood has some newer houses, including a few small gated communities that wall themselves off from the essentially nonexistent crime of the surrounding neighborhood. This western part of the neighborhood also includes Wilcox Manor, a former mansion that has been turned into a condo complex.

Bridlemile

Bridlemile Elementary School on Hamilton Street, one of the best public elementary schools in the city, feeds into the city’s most sought-after middle and high schools; school quality is one of the area’s biggest draws. A number of small streams flow through the neighborhood, and some backyards abut these waterways. (The stream corridors are also used by coyotes; keep pet cats indoors.) One of the neighborhood’s drawbacks is the almost complete absence of sidewalks, or even reasonably wide shoulders, on the main thoroughfares; residents are dependent on vehicles to travel even a few blocks along Shattuck or Dosch Road (for example) without some risk to life and limb. A feature that is either a drawback or an attraction, depending on one’s point of view, is the almost complete lack of shops or other commercial activity except along Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway. Barring the neighborhoods of the West Hills proper, the average home price in Bridlemile is the highest Southwest Portland; the crime rate is one of the lowest,

Vermont Hills, and Gabriel Park

Vermont Hills is the generic name given to the Hayhurst and Maplewood neighborhoods south of Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway. The terrain is indeed somewhat hilly; the main east-west thoroughfare is Vermont Street, which passes along the northern edge of 90-acre Gabriel Park, one of the city’s best neighborhood parks. (Some people colloquially apply the name Gabriel Park to the entire surrounding area.) Gabriel Park is home to the Southwest Community Center complex, which includes a popular pair of indoor pools. Like Bridlemile, Vermont Hills is mostly residential, but a small shopping center across the street from the Southwest Community Center contains several businesses, including the child-friendly Laughing Planet Café (laughingplanetcafe.com). These neighborhoods are also reasonably close to Multnomah Village: Maplewood homes are routinely identified in real estate listings as being “in” Multnomah Village despite actually being up to two miles away.

Vermont Hills

Vermont Hills was developed mostly in the decades after the Second World War, and daylight ranches and other styles of the 1950s and 1960s dominate here, along with a smattering of Cape Cods, bungalows, and other older home types. However, since many homes originally had large lots, the neighborhood is experiencing substantial infill development, with quite a few large new homes rising in former side yards. There are also pockets of 1970s- and 1980s-vintage contemporary homes scattered on culs-de-sac throughout the area and on some of the steeper slopes, particularly on the ridge south of Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway. The western part of Maplewood, near April Hill Park, has a number of small new housing developments, generally with large, Craftsman-inspired homes. Wooded stream corridors lace the neighborhood; these corridors provide habitat for wildlife that you might be surprised to see in Portland city limits, including deer and even cougar. A unique feature of the Hayhurst neighborhood is Alpenrose Dairy on Southwest Shattuck Road (alpenrose.com), an actual working dairy with an attached little league stadium, velodrome, and child-sized replica of an old western town.

TriMet buses serve both Bridlemile and Vermont Hills along the main thoroughfares, with particularly frequent service along Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway; some routes operate only at peak hours.

Burlingame and the Tryon Creek Area
Neighborhood Associations: Arnold Creek, Collins View, Marshall Park, South Burlingame

The neighborhoods south of Interstate 5’s Terwilliger curves in Southwest Portland are among the city’s hidden delights. These leafy precincts offer generally good schools, low crime rates, and abundant recreational opportunities, but are just minutes away from downtown Portland and from the antique stores and restaurants of Sellwood. These neighborhoods lie between the West Hills to the north and Dunthorpe and Lake Oswego to the south, and some residents feel that the area offers many of the benefits of those areas without the stratospheric real estate prices or perceived snobbery. That’s not to say these neighborhoods are cheap—home prices in all these neighborhoods are well above the city average—but they are certainly less expensive than more “established” parts of the city.

Burlingame

The Burlingame neighborhood on either side of Southwest Terwilliger Boulevard was largely developed from the 1930s through the 1960s, although some houses in the area date to the 1920s or earlier. Home styles tend toward gracious Cape Cods and ranches, with quite a few English Tudor–style houses and small cottages in the mix. Unfortunately, the construction of Interstate 5 in the 1960s split Burlingame in two; the northern half of the neighborhood became part of Hillsdale (including the “Burlingame” Fred Meyer on Barbur Boulevard), while the southern half became South Burlingame. The most coveted houses stand high on a ridge above Terwilliger and offer excellent views of Mount Hood and Mount St. Helens; more modest homes are tucked into the valleys on either side or in the blocks adjacent to the freeway, although even some of these lower homes have impressive views. (Traffic noise can be troublesome in the areas closest to Interstate 5.) A small commercial district at the intersection of Terwilliger and Southwest Taylors Ferry Road includes a high-end Market of Choice supermarket, a Eugene-based competitor of New Seasons and Whole Foods.

Burlingame
Collins View

To the south, the Collins View neighborhood occupies the slopes above Riverview Cemetery near Lewis and Clark College. The area is popular with professors and others who enjoy living in close proximity to a collegiate environment and to the college’s campus and athletic fields; the area also is popular with students, and some residents have complained about recurring problems with noise and litter from off-campus parties. The neighborhood mix is also reflected in the housing stock, which is a blend of well-kept homes, primarily in various post-war styles, many of which sit on large lots with tree cover and abundant greenery, and smaller, sometimes somewhat ramshackle rental houses occupied by students. The neighborhood’s grandest homes cluster at its southern end, where Collins View borders, and merges rather seamlessly with, the unincorporated Dunthorpe neighborhood; Dunthorpe’s high school, Riverdale High, is actually in Collins View (although it does not serve students in the neighborhood).

Marshall Park, and Arnold Creek

Tryon Creek State Natural Area comprises nearly 650 acres of forested hills and canyons between Terwilliger Boulevard and Southwest Boones Ferry Road. The Marshall Park and Arnold Creek neighborhoods lie just to the west of this unique and eminently hikeable urban park. Both neighborhoods are overwhelmingly residential, with streets winding through hilly terrain cut by numerous creeks, and are characterized mainly by homes built from the 1960s to the present, in many cases on large wooded lots. A few old homes from the early 20th century stand moldering in the dense shade, while some brand-new small-scale developments (of large homes) are being built in the neighborhood’s vacant parcels. A few large properties that have not been subdivided are still farmed or otherwise used for traditionally rural purposes. In addition to the State Natural Area, to which some homes have essentially direct backyard access, these neighborhoods include several other natural areas, such as Marshall Park, which lies along Tryon Creek upstream of the state park. The nearest commercial area is actually in Lake Oswego, on Boones Ferry Road. Stephenson Elementary, in the southern part of the Arnold Creek neighborhood, is considered one of the best elementary schools in the city.

Outer Southwest Neighborhoods
Neighborhood Associations: Ashcreek, Crestwood, Far Southwest, Markham, West Portland Park
Ashcreek, and Crestwood

The neighborhoods in Portland’s far southwest—including the neighborhood aptly named Far Southwest—are often overlooked by newcomers and long-time Portlanders alike. While they lack any real commercial districts (excepting the strip mall of Barbur Boulevard), they offer relative convenience. The quiet Ashcreek neighborhood, between Multnomah Village and the Washington County border, has consistently enjoyed one of the lowest crime rates in the city. Most homes date from the 1950s to the present, with some older homes along Garden Home Road. Infill development has resulted in a crop of new homes mixed in with existing houses, including entire streets of new subdivisions—a rarity in Portland proper. Overall, Ashcreek is one of the city’s woodsier neighborhoods, and some streets have an almost rural feel—a feel enhanced by the absence of pavement on some streets. Nearby, Crestwood is something of a southwestern extension of Multnomah Village (and is usually identified as Multnomah Village in real estate listings). The crime rate is nearly as low as Ashcreek’s. Homes here are generally well-kept, and the neighborhood has excellent access to Interstate 5; it’s also fairly close, via back routes, to the Washington Square mall area. In the heart of the neighborhood, the vegetation in 32-acre Woods Memorial Natural Area is almost entirely native, and the park occasionally attracts elk.

Markham, Far Southwest, and West Portland Park

South of Interstate 5, the gently hilly, mostly residential Markham neighborhood has a mix of housing, with plenty of daylight ranches, split-levels, contemporary homes and small, nondescript cottages, along with some large, relatively new homes, particularly on the curving streets in the southern part of the neighborhood; 17-acre Maricara Natural Area provides the only significant open space. Freeway noise can be a problem in the northern part of the neighborhood. The hilly Far Southwest and West Portland Park neighborhoods border Portland Community College’s Sylvania campus. The area around the campus features some apartment complexes, but most residential areas are comprised of fairly large, well-kept contemporary and ranch-style single-family homes. In West Portland Park, the area around Jackson Middle School and south to Lake Oswego has some large, newer homes, as well as pre-existing homes that have been subject to high-end remodels. These neighborhoods border the Mountain Park neighborhood of Lake Oswego, and are very convenient to that city’s Kruse Way business district. Some homes have good views south over the northern Willamette Valley and west to the Coast Range. Freeway noise is a potential problem near Interstate 5.

Bus service in most parts of outer Southwest Portland is spotty to adequate, with frequent service along Barbur Boulevard and to the Portland Community College campus.

ZIP Codes
97219, 97221, 97239
Post Office
Multnomah Post Office, 7805 SW 40th Ave
Police Station
Portland Police Bureau, Central Precinct, 1111 SW 2nd Ave, 503-823-3333 (non-emergency)
Emergency Hospitals
OHSU Hospital, 3181 SW Sam Jackson Park Rd, 503-494-8311, ohsu.org/xd/health/; Providence St. Vincent Medical Center, 9205 SW Barnes Rd, 503-216-1234, providence.org
Libraries
Capitol Hill Library, 10723 SW Capitol Hwy, 503-988-5385; Hillsdale Library, 1525 SW Sunset Blvd, 503-988-5388
Parks
Parks throughout area; major parks include Gabriel Park, George Himes Park, and Woods Memorial Park, portlandparks.org, and Tryon Creek State Natural Area
Community Publications
Southwest Portland Post, swportlandpost.com; Southwest Community Connection, swcommconnection.com; SW News, 503-823-4592, swni.org
Public Transportation
TriMet, 503-238-RIDE, trimet.org; frequent bus service along Barbur Boulevard and Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway between downtown Portland, Beaverton, and Tigard. Additional bus lines with standard or peak hour–only service serve most neighborhoods. Portland Streetcar, Portland Aerial Tram, and MAX light-rail (beginning in fall 2015) serve the South Waterfront district.

Northwest Portland

Boundaries: North: Unincorporated Multnomah County; West: Unincorporated Multnomah County; Unincorporated Washington County; South: Burnside Street (official); West Hills (unofficial); East: Willamette River

It’s a bit of an understatement to call Northwest Portland geographically diverse. This part of the city includes the state’s most densely populated residential neighborhood, a major industrial complex with port facilities for oceangoing freighters, and a 5,000-acre expanse of virtual wilderness—all within a few minutes of one another. The close-in Northwest neighborhoods are among the city’s most desirable and dynamic areas; at the same time, much of Northwest Portland is effectively uninhabited, and large tracts of unincorporated rural land lie just to the west, while historic Linnton on the lower Willamette River was an early rival to Portland. On the west slope of the Tualatin Mountains, the relatively new Forest Heights neighborhood attracts professionals to a master-planned slice of suburbia. Whatever you’re looking for in a neighborhood, someplace in Northwest Portland is likely to have it.

Northwest–Nob Hill
Neighborhood Association: Northwest
Nob Hill

When Portlanders refer to “Northwest Portland” they generally mean the busy commercial and residential district centered on Northwest 21st and 23rd (or “trendy-third,” in ironic hipster parlance) Avenues, north of Burnside Street at the foot of the West Hills. The area is sometimes known as Nob Hill, after the San Francisco neighborhood, and rarely as the “Alphabet District,” the semi-official name that appears on street signs. This neighborhood is one of the oldest in the city: Captain John Couch claimed the land just north of the incipient settlement of Portland in 1845, and platted the area in 1865, with the east-west streets designated by letters of the alphabet in ascending order (i.e., A Street, B Street, and so on) moving north from downtown; for this reason, the area came to be known as the Alphabet District. In 1891, the streets were given names—Captain Couch’s name now graces his original C Street—but the alphabetical street order remained. (Simpsons fans may notice that Flanders, Lovejoy, and Quimby Streets—formerly F, L, and Q Streets—have lent their names to prominent characters on the show.)

Nob Hill

Although it is small, the Northwest district is arguably the most architecturally diverse and interesting part of the city. The early industrialists’ grand Victorian houses—some of which have been turned into offices, while others are still used for residential purposes—stand amid modernist residences and offices, uninspired 1960s commercial buildings, apartment buildings and condominiums that span a century of styles, grand 19th-century churches and cathedrals, and the imposing 1928 temple of the Beth Israel congregation. The neighborhood has a particular abundance of vintage apartment buildings, many of which are quite ornate and retain their period features; they are found throughout the district, and the concentration of apartments is such that Nob Hill has long had the state’s highest population density. The blocks west of 23rd, and especially west of 25th near Wallace Park, have more houses than apartments; east of 23rd, apartments dominate. Some of these apartments have been converted to condos in recent years, and rents have increased dramatically, but the area still exerts a powerful draw for newcomers, especially young singles and couples, both gay and straight. In general, homes are pricy here compared to homes in much of the city, but are less expensive than in the West Hills or the Pearl, or some of the most sought-after Eastside neighborhoods.

A large part of the district’s appeal lies in its stunning variety of shops, bars, and restaurants. For years, before the Eastside commercial districts became the hotspots they are today, and before the Pearl District was even a gleam in a condo developer’s eye, Northwest Portland was the place to go for nontraditional shopping and dining. (The late lamented Zefiro, which opened in 1990 on Northwest 21st Avenue and closed 10 years later, is widely credited with starting Portland’s foodie revolution.) Now that other parts of the city have found their commercial legs, Northwest Portland is still going strong. It would be pointless to try to pick out highlights—Northwest 23rd, and to a lesser extent 21st, are lined with temptations all the way from Burnside to Thurman Street. (Remember, that’s B Street to T Street, or 18 blocks.) Just wander down the street and see what strikes your fancy. If you need some visual entertainment, Cinema 21 (cinema21.com) on 21st Avenue screens art house films, foreign films, classic films, edgy documentaries, and animation festivals, while the Mission Theatre on Glisan Street shows second-run Hollywood movies accompanied by pizza and beer; CoHo Productions (cohoproductions.org) puts on plays at its performance space on Raleigh Street.

It is possible—desirable, even—to live in Northwest without a car. Because so many old apartments lack off-street parking, on-street parking is hard to find. Even though resident parking permits are required in some parts of Northwest, you might have to park several blocks away from your apartment, which is probably not a big deal if you’ve moved from New York City but may be a shock if you’re coming from, say, Fargo. On the other hand, public transit is frequent and comprehensive; in addition to several bus routes along the main streets, the Portland Streetcar serves the northern end of the neighborhood. It is also quite feasible to walk to downtown Portland. Moreover, unlike many neighborhoods, Northwest Portland has a full crop of markets within walking distance: Fred Meyer and Zupan’s supermarkets are on Burnside, the upscale City Market is on 21st (just down the street from Ken’s Artisan Bakery, kensartisan.com), and a Trader Joe’s occupies the site of the old Thriftway supermarket, at 21st and NW Glisan (long known to many neighborhood residents as “Theftway” for its perceived high prices). If a craving for expensive organic products strikes you, the Whole Foods supermarket in the Pearl District is just a few blocks away. Need to get out of town or run a far-flung errand? Zipcar and Car2Go station vehicles in the neighborhood. In short, if you want to live an urban, car-free lifestyle without paying Pearl District rents, Northwest Portland might be for you—if you can afford it. Northwest Portland seems about as developed as it can possibly be, but the district has a last frontier in charmingly named Slabtown, generally east of 21st Avenue and north of Lovejoy Street (or NoLo, as some would have it, tongue not entirely in cheek). This zone of formerly (or currently) dilapidated warehouses and commercial structures, much of it owned by Conway Freight Company, is slowly being redeveloped into a dense urban neighborhood, with scattered condos and apartment buildings already rising. A New Seasons supermarket, frequently a harbinger of revitalization/gentrification, is slated to open at NW 21st and Raleigh in 2015. Stay tuned for new development(s).

Northwest is perhaps most attractive to the young and stylish, but it also appeals to families; Chapman Elementary School, on Northwest Pettygrove, is one of the best public elementary schools in the city, and Northwest feeds into equally high-quality middle and high schools. The entire area is walkable, although you’ll have to dodge the occasional junkie or homeless person, especially east of 21st Avenue. A potential downside of the neighborhood for families, besides the traffic congestion, is the relative dearth of parks: the area’s two city parks, Couch Park and Wallace Park (next to Chapman Elementary), both have playgrounds, but they can seem painfully far away on a rainy day when junior is melting down in your third-floor, two-bedroom walkup apartment.

Forest Park and Environs
Neighborhood Associations: Forest Park, Linnton, Northwest Heights, Northwest Industrial
Forest Heights

Most of the land west of Forest Park, along Skyline Boulevard and Thompson Road, is rural, hilly, wooded terrain that is lightly populated and generally outside city limits; the homes that do exist here tend to be mid-century outposts, relict farmhouses, or large, custom-designed houses, often with spectacular views. The exception to the area’s sparse development is Forest Heights, a vast newer neighborhood created from scratch in the 1990s. Forest Heights spreads across the western slopes of the West Hills, west of Skyline and north of Cornell Road. While Forest Heights could have become a standard suburban cookie-cutter development, an attempt was made to create a community with varied architectural styles and with such neighborhood amenities as walking paths, common areas, and open spaces. The result won’t fool you into thinking you’re in a traditional urban neighborhood, and the newness of it all creeps some people out, but Forest Heights is arguably one of the better-executed suburban developments in the Portland area.

Forest Heights

Home styles in Forest Park range from townhomes and single-family structures built in quasi-traditional “Craftsman” or English Tudor styles to bold contemporary houses and custom-built luxury homes (with not a few McMansions thrown in). The entire neighborhood is part of one homeowners association (fhhoa.com) and an architectural review committee must approve all building plans and color schemes, so the neighborhood may not be the best place to try out that nautical crow’s nest addition you’ve always wanted; townhouse and condominium owners also belong to homeowners associations of their own, with monthly association fees. Home prices range from quite a bit above average to way above average; median rents are among the very highest in the metro area. Many homes have outstanding views to the south and west, over the Tualatin Valley to the Coast Range. While the neighborhood is almost entirely residential, there is a small commercial zone that features a small grocery, a Starbucks, a bakery, a wine shop, a day spa, and other essential community services. Forest Park Elementary School, a new school in the middle of the neighborhood, has an excellent academic reputation but suffers from enrollment levels that substantially exceed its design capacity: several classes camp out in portable classrooms.

Forest Heights is not especially close to anything (other than a few other suburban developments), and it feels less like an integral part of Portland than perhaps any other neighborhood in the city. Still, it is a reasonable commute from downtown Portland via Cornell Road or to the employers of Washington County’s Sunset Corridor. (The neighborhood seems to be a particular favorite of Intel employees, who can live here with a Portland address but still avoid a grueling commute on the Sunset Highway.) There is no public transit, but the homeowners association operates a private shuttle between Forest Heights and the MAX stop at the Sunset Transit Center.

Forest Heights
Linnton

On the other side of Forest Park, and in sharp contrast to Forest Heights, Linnton is an old, mainly industrial neighborhood. Founded about the same time as Portland, Linnton and Portland were originally rivals; the larger city, having won the battle for pre-eminence, absorbed the smaller one in 1915. Most of the houses here perch on the hills or are tucked into wooded canyons west of Highway 30 on the edge of Forest Park, high above the tank farms and other industrial facilities that line the Willamette riverfront. Many homes overlook the river, which is a busy maritime thoroughfare at this point. The bulk of Linnton houses are old, and many have been lovingly restored, but there are also some ranch homes, some newer contemporary or custom homes, and even a few condos. A small commercial district along the highway has a few taverns, convenience stores, gas stations, and a community center. (The district used to be larger; the state bulldozed half of it to make way for extra highway lanes in the 1960s.)

Linnton

Although Linnton no longer has the job base it once had, it is centrally located for commuting to downtown Portland, zipping across the St. Johns Bridge (which connects Linnton directly to North Portland), or even for winding over the hills to Washington County. Despite the industrial character of the lower parts of the neighborhood, Linnton has a strong community spirit. A decade ago, Linnton residents proposed a rezoning and redevelopment plan that envisioned a mixed-use development—shops, a park, offices, and row house condos—in place of a derelict lumber mill on the waterfront. The City Council put the kibosh on that plan in 2006, citing multiple dangers from earthquakes, landslides, explosions, and other industrial accidents. Some community leaders, bitter over the rejection of their efforts, called for Linnton to secede from the city, but that particular brouhaha seems to have died down.

Northwest Industrial

South of Linnton, the Northwest Industrial neighborhood is, as the name indicates, a predominantly industrial neighborhood. A few houses huddle forlornly under the eaves of the forest west of Highway 30, overlooking the area’s industrial facilities, but these dwellings are really only appropriate for trainspotters and fans of industrial chic.

ZIP Codes
97210, 97229, 97231
Post Office
Forest Park Post Office, 1706 NW 24th Ave; Portland Post Office, 715 NW Hoyt St
Police Stations
Portland Police Bureau, Central Precinct, 1111 SW 2nd Ave, 503-823-3333 (non-emergency); North Precinct (for Linnton), 449 NE Emerson St, 503-823-5700 (non-emergency)
Emergency Hospitals
Legacy Good Samaritan Medical Center, 1015 NW 22nd Ave, 503-413-7711, legacyhealth.org; Providence St. Vincent Medical Center, 9205 SW Barnes Rd, 503-216-1234, providence.org
Library
Northwest Library, 2300 NW Thurman St, 503-988-5560
Parks
Major parks include 5,000-acre Forest Park and Linnton Park; see portlandparks.org
Community Publication
Northwest Examiner, nwexaminer.com
Public Transportation
TriMet, 503-238-RIDE, trimet.org; frequent bus and streetcar service to Northwest Portland–Nob Hill and vicinity; standard bus service along Burnside/Barnes Road to Beaverton and to Linnton, St. Johns, and Sauvie Island via St. Helens Road. Forest Heights neighborhood has a private shuttle to Sunset Transit Center (bus and MAX).

The East Side

Northeast Portland

Boundaries: North: Columbia River; West: North Williams Avenue; South: East Burnside Street (official); Interstate 84 (unofficial); East: 82nd Avenue (unofficial)

Northeast Portland offers some of the city’s most distinctive and desirable neighborhoods, ranging from the grand homes of Irvington and Alameda Ridge to the family-friendly Grant Park neighborhood and the quirky, self-consciously hip Alberta Arts District. Most neighborhoods in this part of the city have tree-lined, walkable and bikeable streets, attractive parks, and easy access to vibrant commercial districts. The southern half of Northeast Portland is only a few minutes away from downtown or the Pearl District. All these advantages come at a price—median home prices in the most desirable neighborhoods are much higher than the citywide median, and rents are no bargain, although there are still a few pockets of (relatively) affordable houses—but many newcomers who can afford to live here fall in love with this part of the city.

Irvington, Sabin, and the Lloyd District
Neighborhood Associations: Irvington, Lloyd District, Sabin, Sullivan’s Gulch
Irvington

Stately Irvington (irvingtonpdx.com), a fashionable residential neighborhood in inner Northeast Portland, started its development in the late 19th century, when Portland’s streetcar system expanded to the Eastside; the neighborhood was essentially completely built-up by the end of the 1930s. The neighborhood’s first residents were generally middle-class tradespeople. (The city’s upper classes mainly lived on the more established Westside.) For many of these early residents, the house they built or bought in Irvington was the first home they had ever owned. Urban decay and rising crime in the 1960s and 1970s threatened the neighborhood’s livability, but a renaissance that began in the 1980s and gathered steam in the 1990s is now essentially complete. Irvington is no longer a starter-home neighborhood by any stretch of the imagination. The average home costs more than twice the average in the city as a whole. Despite the high prices of even a fixer (if you can find one), Irvington is so desirable that some developers are demolishing existing houses to put one (or usually two) brand-new houses on the lot.

Irvington

Along with the standard Eastside assortment of bungalows, “Old Portlands” (foursquares), barn-like Dutch colonials, and English cottages and Tudor-style homes, Irvington has fine examples of other early late-19th- and early-20th-century styles: Spanish colonial pseudo-villas, Victorians, large arts-and-crafts mansions, prairie-style homes, and plantation-style colonial revival homes. The annual Irvington Home Tour (irvingtonhometour.com) held each May shows off a selection of the neighborhood’s historic houses. Not surprisingly, given the area’s high property values, most homes here have been renovated, and nearly all have been well-tended. The area between Northeast 7th and 15th Avenues, which tends to have slightly more modest homes, was once considered a bit dicey, and revitalization has occurred more slowly there; it is perhaps the only part of Irvington with a more than negligible stock of fixers. (The area is rumored to have been “redlined” by real estate agents for years.) Many of Irvington’s larger homes were turned into boarding houses for shipyard workers during the Second World War; most houses reverted to owner-occupied status after the war, but west of 15th Avenue many homes remained divided into two or three apartments. In addition, several apartment buildings, including lovely prewar walkup buildings but also some unattractive concrete structures, occupy the blocks just north of Northeast Broadway along the neighborhood’s southern fringe.

The reasons for Irvington’s popularity are obvious. It is a neighborhood of sidewalks, well-kept yards, gracious street trees, and attractive homes, yet it is remarkably close to downtown Portland—parts of Irvington are scarcely more than a mile away from the central business district. Much of the neighborhood is reasonable walking distance from the MAX stop at Lloyd Center or from the Moda Center arena. Few major streets run through the core of Irvington, and those that do, like Knott (which also boasts some of the neighborhood’s grandest homes) mainly carry neighborhood traffic, not commuters. These characteristics appeal to a wide range of buyers, from affluent empty nesters to families with children, who like the old-fashioned neighborhood vibe and the good-to-excellent set of public schools that serve Irvington. There is, however, only one park, Irving Park, in the neighborhood. The Irvington area has also become a popular choice for gay and lesbian couples in recent years.

Although most of Irvington proper is residential—a few retailers on 15th Avenue and Fremont Street and a smattering of B&Bs notwithstanding—the neighborhood is within walking distance of several shopping districts. Northeast Broadway, which forms Irvington’s southern boundary, offers a dazzling array of shops, restaurants, bars, and services, ranging from independent bookseller Broadway Books to old-timey Helen Bernhard Bakery (since 1924, helenbernhardbakery.com). Although the Northeast Broadway strip is not as trendy as certain other shopping districts—we’re looking at you, Pearl District—it has a fair number of hip nightspots, such as the modernistic Pour Wine Bar & Bistro (pourwinebar.com) and the hip tiki bar (not a contradiction in terms, in this case) Hale Pele (halepele.com). The area just south of Broadway also includes the Lloyd Center mall and surrounding stores (see below). Moreover, the western half of Irvington is close to the burgeoning scenes on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Russell Street, the eastern half is within striking distance of Hollywood and Beaumont Village, and the northern tier is a short hop away from Alberta.

Sabin

Northeast Fremont Street forms Irvington’s northern boundary. This area was somewhat derelict little more than a decade ago, but today a small commercial district has sprung up at 15th and Fremont. Here you’ll find a Whole Foods supermarket and a clutch of small shops and restaurants, such as County Cork Public House and, a few blocks to the east, the specialty nursery Garden Fever. These businesses are also represent the southern edge of the pleasant neighborhood north of Fremont, Sabin, which occupies the southern slope of Alameda Ridge. Both culturally and geographically, Sabin is a transition zone between Irvington and the funkier precincts of the Alberta Arts District. Homes in Sabin tend to be more modest and thus somewhat more affordable than those in Irvington, with a higher concentration of bungalows, foursquares, and English cottages, but average per-square-foot prices are only slightly lower. “Upper” Sabin, the area where the Alameda Ridge begins to rise, is dominated by the city’s enormous Vernon water tank; nonetheless, some homes in the tank neighborhood have good views of downtown Portland, and the area surrounding the tank has been turned into a small “hydropark.” The eastern part of the neighborhood blends fairly seamlessly into the lower part of the Alameda neighborhood. Sabin has a nice community feel and attracts many young families—Sabin School, the local elementary, is well-regarded—as well as straight and gay couples and some singles.

Sabin
Lloyd District

The Lloyd District is sort of an auxiliary downtown on the east bank, tucked between Northeast Broadway and Interstate 84. The center of the neighborhood is Lloyd Center, the city’s oldest mall, which shelters the usual range of middlebrow stores. New mid-rise office buildings and hotels dominate the area to the west of the mall. Many of these hotels cater to attendees of events at the nearby Oregon Convention Center; the Moda Center arena (home court for the NBA’s Trail Blazers) and Memorial Coliseum are in the western portion of the Lloyd District, known as the Rose Quarter. Some condos and apartments, including new multistory buildings with views, along with the odd stranded house, provide residential options. There is plenty of construction going on in this area, and much more multifamily rental housing is on the way. While many Lloyd area residents love the convenience, some complain of high levels of perceived crime. (While you are unlikely to become a victim, for some reason the Lloyd District is a favorite locale for gang members to shoot each other.) Indeed, the Lloyd District has one of the highest crime rates in the city, but its predominantly commercial character perhaps unfairly causes the per-capita crime numbers to skew higher.

Lloyd District
Sullivan’s Gulch

To the east of Lloyd Center, the colorfully named Sullivan’s Gulch neighborhood is squeezed between Northeast Broadway and the bluff overlooking Interstate 84 and the adjacent train tracks. (Interstate 84 was built in the actual gulch during the 1950s.) The neighborhood offers a melange of old and new condos and apartment buildings, mixed with bungalows, foursquares and other older single-family homes, many of which have been beautifully restored. Some of the apartments stand on the edge of the gulch with the freeway and train tracks essentially in the backyard. The buildings a bit farther north tend to be quieter, and offer quick access to the shops and services along Broadway. Most residents here are renters, and Sullivan’s Gulch has some of the more affordable close-in rentals in town. As in other convenient Eastside neighborhoods, development has picked up here and new buildings are on the rise.

Sullivan’s Gulch

The southern half of this swath of Northeast Portland is extremely well connected to the rest of the city, both by road and by transit. The Eastside MAX line runs through the Lloyd District, and connects with the Interstate MAX line at the Rose Quarter Transit Center. The CL streetcar line runs from downtown over the Broadway Bridge, and loops through the Lloyd District before heading south to OMSI. Bus lines run along Northeast Broadway, Fremont, MLK, 15th Avenue, and 24th Avenue. Access to downtown Portland by road is 5 to 15 minutes, depending on traffic, via the Broadway Bridge or the Steel Bridge. These neighborhoods also have easy access to Interstate 5 and Interstate 84.

Alameda, Grant Park, and Hollywood
Neighborhood Associations: Alameda, Grant Park, Hollywood

Between 18,000 and 12,000 years ago, glacial Lake Missoula (in present-day Montana) formed behind a tongue of the ice sheet that covered much of the inland Northwest. Periodically, the lake broke through this ice dam, unleashing massive floods, each of which carried the volume of about 60 Amazon Rivers. These floods repeatedly scoured the Columbia Basin and flowed downstream to the sea past the future site of Portland, carrying and depositing massive amounts of debris. (Eddies of the Missoula Floods reached all the way up the Willamette Valley, burying much of the land in hundreds of feet of silt.) One of the many effects of these floods was to create the rock-filled escarpment that is now known as Alameda Ridge.

Alameda

The west end of the ridge rises in the Sabin neighborhood, and the crest runs east, just north of Fremont Street, eventually turning southeast to cross Fremont; it finally peters out in the Rose City Park neighborhood. The ridge’s southern slope is fairly steep—most streets wind up the ridge rather than tackling the grade head-on—while the more gentle northern slope descends gradually toward the Columbia River. The highest section of ridge, west of Northeast 33rd Avenue, is the heart of the Alameda neighborhood. The neighborhood features a mix of older houses—bungalows, English Tudors, colonial revival, and stucco-sided, tile-roofed mission revival homes—on tree-lined streets with sidewalks. The houses on the ridge itself or high up on the southern slopes tend to be grand, genre-busting homes (what do you call an enormous arts-and-crafts home with half-timbered details and stucco siding?), often with rich architectural detailing, and most offer tremendous views over the city to the south and west (and in some cases of the Cascades to the southeast). These houses rarely go on the market, and when one does it usually sells for a princely sum.

Alameda

Off the brow of the ridge, most Alameda houses are smaller (if not necessarily modest) and less expensive, although only compared to their ridgetop brethren; houses in Alameda in general are on average nearly twice the citywide figure, although prices are not rising as fast here as they are in some other neighborhoods. The houses north of the ridge tend toward the tidy bungalow model; some of these homes have views of Mount St. Helens from the upper floors. South of the ridge, housing styles are mixed, but English Tudors are more common, and homes on the southern slope are likely to have at least “territorial” views. More than 80% of Alameda residents own their homes, and houses are generally well-maintained and yards well-tended. Moreover, Alameda has a very low rate of violent crime; in some years, there are no reported violent crimes at all. The neighborhood is overwhelmingly residential, but most homes are within a reasonable walk of the shopping districts at Beaumont Village, further east on Fremont; Hollywood, about a half-mile south, or the Alberta Arts District, about a half-mile north of the ridge. While the area has numerous long-time and in many cases elderly residents, Alameda Elementary School, on Fremont Street, is one of the most sought-after grade schools in the city, and the area attracts young families who can afford to live here.

Grant Park

Adjacent Grant Park, at the southern foot of Alameda Ridge, is a similarly family-friendly neighborhood, also filled with bungalows, English Tudors, cottages, Dutch colonials, and the like (albeit generally smaller than those in Alameda, and on smaller lots). The neighborhood takes its name from the large park at its center, which offers a playground, tennis courts, off-leash dog park, and picnic tables; thanks to the presence of Grant High School, there is also a quarter-mile running track, tennis courts, and a swimming pool. Children’s author Beverly Cleary lived in the Grant Park neighborhood for much of her childhood, and several of her stories are set here. (Ramona “The Pest” Quimby lived on Klickitat Street.) Near the playground in Grant Park, a collection of bronze statues of several Cleary characters is set amid a children’s play fountain (a popular gathering place for neighborhood families on hot summer days).

Grant Park

Grant Park has tended to attract white-collar professionals in recent years, especially professionals with families: it has one of the highest concentrations of families on the Eastside, due not only to its quiet, walkable streets and the amenities of Grant Park, but also to the traditionally desirable cluster of schools that serve the neighborhood, culminating at convenient Grant High. (A bit of history: the former Hollyrood Elementary, at the north end of the park, barely survived threats of outright closure in 2006, despite having the highest standardized test scores in the entire metropolitan area during the 2005–06 school year; it emerged controversially in rump form as the K–1 campus of the former Fernwood K–8 school, which was renamed the Beverly Cleary School in 2008.) The school cluster has become so popular that the Hollyrood and Fernwood buildings are coping with student numbers substantially in excess of their design capacities.

Dolph Park

West of 33rd Avenue, the Dolph Park area, while nominally part of the Grant Park neighborhood, is essentially a transition zone between Irvington to the west and Grant Park proper to the east. Spiffy new street signs identify the neighborhood, although the term is not widely used or recognized outside (or necessarily inside) the Dolph Park area. Homes here are generally larger than those in Grant Park, but date from the same era and come in a similar range of styles. This sub-neighborhood is on the whole somewhat quieter than Grant Park proper, mainly because of its greater distance from the high school.

Hollywood

With the exception of a few small professional offices and the QFC supermarket on Northeast 33rd Avenue, Grant Park is primarily residential. The library, shops, and restaurants of nearby Hollywood, however, are a short walk away. Cinematic-sounding Hollywood was named after the Hollywood Theatre (hollywoodtheatre.com), a 1926 movie palace that still stands (and still screens films and hosts special events) on Northeast Sandy Boulevard, Hollywood’s main drag. Sandy slices through Hollywood diagonally from southwest to northeast, creating oddly angled intersections where cross-navigation is difficult and building footprints go beyond squares and rectangles. As one of the city’s few grid-busting arteries, Sandy carries fairly heavy traffic. Perhaps partially for this reason, Sandy was once a notorious haunt of streetwalkers; that element has mostly vanished from Hollywood, and the street is rapidly improving. Sandy now features several cafés, shops, restaurants, and other (legitimate) service providers, as well as a hulking new mixed-use Whole Foods supermarket/condo combo. The streets south of Sandy have an increasing number of retail stores and other businesses, too, including a relocated Trader Joe’s; the Hollywood Farmers’ Market (hollywoodfarmersmarket.org) is held in the Grocery Outlet parking lot every Saturday morning from May through November, and twice a month through winter.

Hollywood

Several restaurants and other businesses cluster within a block or two to the north of Sandy; Fleur de Lis Bakery, in the old library building at 40th and Hancock, is a favorite neighborhood gathering place. The new, mixed-use Hollywood Library on Northeast Tillamook, which includes a Beverly Cleary–themed wall, stands in this area, as do a few smallish-scale condo and apartment buildings, including some nondescript 1960s-era apartments. Otherwise, the blocks between Sandy Boulevard and the foot of Alameda Ridge are filled mainly with 1920s-vintage bungalows, many of which have been restored beautifully. The homes tucked under the brow of Alameda Ridge north of Sandy Boulevard are shady in summer but can be a bit dark during winter. Hollywood has more rentals than in adjacent neighborhoods; it is also busier and has a somewhat higher crime rate, although the neighborhood becomes progressively more quiet as one moves north from Sandy.

The neighborhoods of central Northeast Portland have generally good bus service along North Broadway, Fremont Street, 33rd and 42nd Avenues, and Sandy Boulevard; eastbound and westbound MAX service is available from the Hollywood/Northeast 42nd Avenue Transit Center. By car, these neighborhoods are a 10-minute drive from downtown Portland at off-peak hours, and the airport is only 15 to 20 minutes away.

Beaumont Village, Wilshire Park, and Rose City Park
Neighborhood Associations: Beaumont-Wilshire, Rose City Park
Beaumont Village

Although the name is often used for the surrounding neighborhood as well, Beaumont Village refers to the three-quarter-mile stretch of Northeast Fremont Street between 33rd and 50th Avenues, on the plateau just north of Alameda Ridge. The street is lined with upscale (and a few downscale) boutiques, several restaurants, a brew pub, a hardware store, and Beaumont Market, a high-end but well-loved neighborhood grocery. While Beaumont Village lacks the high hipness quotient of some other eastside neighborhoods, it has variety enough to suit most non-hipster needs. (The area surrounding Beaumont Village has more families with young children than, say, the Alberta area, and neighborhood businesses in general tend to be less edgy and more family-friendly.) Traditional one-story storefronts mix with oddities like the so-called Swiss House—a Tudor-style half-timbered building from the 1920s—and dramatic architectural statements like the hulking rust-colored block that is home to a Grand Central Bakery.

Beaumont Village

The walkable, tree-lined residential streets that branch off Fremont boast a bumper crop of bungalows and English-style homes, along with some Cape Cods and a few lost-looking ranches. Most homes are relatively modest, if not necessarily small. The grand homes concentrated along the section of Alameda Ridge that runs south of Fremont represent a significant exception to this generalization; many of these homes stand on curving streets on the brink of the ridge offering expansive southward views and are akin to the houses in Alameda proper. Some new and not entirely welcomed apartment buildings are rising along Fremont, but in general Beaumont Village has a palpable, cohesive community feel somewhat reminiscent of a small town. In keeping with this vibe, an old-fashioned parade heads down the main drag during Fremont Fest in August.

Wilshire Park

A few blocks to the north of Fremont, the Wilshire Park neighborhood surrounds the 14-acre park of the same name. Homes around Wilshire Park are similar in style to those in Beaumont Village, but with more emphasis on English Tudors and a higher concentration of ranches. The area has been a desirable one for many years, so although home prices in the Beaumont-Wilshire neighborhood are not as jaw-dropping as in neighboring Alameda, the per-square foot price is similar.

Wilshire Park
Rose City Park

To the east, the Rose City Park neighborhood is bungalow heaven, particularly south of Sandy Boulevard (although other older house styles certainly exist). Until a few years ago, Rose City Park was full of long-term residents, and was the sort of deep-rooted neighborhood where most of the front steps are covered in Astroturf. Few people moved in, and few people moved out—except perhaps into the neighborhood’s Rose City Cemetery. (Rose City Park is where Alameda Ridge goes to die, too; it peters out at its eastern end at about 57th and Sandy.) The neighborhood’s traditional insularity may explain why it long remained off the radar screen for most Portlanders. The area has undergone a turnover in the last few years, however. A minor influx of Southeast Asian immigrants, together with couples and young families that were priced out of neighborhoods with a similar feel, has helped diversify and energize the neighborhood, and Astroturfed steps are becoming a rare and kitschy sight. Prices have certainly risen here, but not as sharply as in some other neighborhoods, and Rose City Park, while not cheap, remains relatively affordable compared to the more sought-after neighborhoods a mile or two west. The Fremont Street commercial strip extends into Rose City Park; moreover, the once notoriously skanky section of Sandy Boulevard that bisects the neighborhood is being revitalized, and now features some decent restaurants and shops. Woodsy Normandale Park in the south part of the neighborhood has sports fields and a dog park. Rose City Park (the park, not the neighborhood) adjoins the Rose City Golf Course at the east end of the neighborhood; the park hosts live musical performances in summer. Homes in the southern part of the neighborhood endure noise from Interstate 84 and the adjacent railroad tracks.

Rose City Park

While Beaumont-Wilshire and Rose City Park are farther (as the crow flies) from downtown Portland than some other Northeast neighborhoods, they’re a relatively quick trip downtown by car—about 15 to 20 minutes on Broadway or Sandy, or (during non–rush hours) 10 minutes on Interstate 84—or by bus. Beaumont Village is reasonably close to the Hollywood Transit Center light rail stop, and the 60th Avenue stop is on the southern border of Rose City Park. These neighborhoods are also a short journey from the airport, yet are out of the normal airport flight path and are not typically subject to noise from low-flying planes.

The Alberta Arts District and Concordia
Neighborhood Associations: Concordia, King (partial), Vernon, Woodlawn

Before a real estate agent with a flair for marketing coined the term “Alberta Arts District,” there was simply Northeast Alberta Street, a minor east-west thoroughfare with some basic neighborhood shops and services and an abundance of boarded-up storefronts. In the 1990s, the sound of gunshots and the pulsing flash of police lights were just part of the neighborhood fabric, while the name of another neighborhood street, Killingsworth, became a sort of grim joke. And then something remarkable happened. Through a mysterious and apparently uncoordinated process involving artists priced out of the Pearl District, couples (gay and straight) who saw potential in the neighborhood’s inexpensive and often dilapidated old houses, entrepreneurs dealing in exotic niche goods, and other so-called urban pioneers, the neighborhoods north and south of Alberta became the Next Big Thing. In the last few years, the transformation—or gentrification, depending on your point of view—of the neighborhood has become largely complete, and Next-Big-Thing status has migrated westward to North Portland. Some edginess remains, and crime isn’t exactly nonexistent, but to see how far the neighborhood has come you need only recall that this part of town couldn’t even support a supermarket in the late 1990s. There is now an upscale New Seasons on Northeast 33rd, while the Alberta Cooperative Grocery, albertagrocery.coop, is on Alberta proper.

This part of the city slopes gently northward from Alameda Ridge toward the Columbia River, and some residents opine that the area gets more light and has an airier feeling than neighborhoods like Hollywood that lie at the foot of the ridge’s southern (steeper) slope. The modern heart of the neighborhood is the stretch of Northeast Alberta Street from MLK Jr. Boulevard east to 33rd Avenue. This newly christened “Alberta Arts District” is lined with a blend of upscale and aggressively countercultural establishments—hair salons (and a dog salon), clothing and knick-knack boutiques, and dozens of coffeehouses, bars, and restaurants—mixed in with long-standing businesses like Acme Glass. Most businesses are locally owned, although rising rents threaten the viability of some smaller merchants. There are also several art galleries, although fewer than the “arts district” label would suggest. During the Last Thursday (lastthursdayonalberta.com) art walk, created in response to (or in mockery of) the Pearl’s First Thursday and held on the last Thursday evening of each month, galleries and other businesses stay open late and the street becomes a freaky carnival of sorts. Close to a mile of Alberta Street is closed to traffic on Last Thursdays from May to September. Last Thursday has become somewhat controversial, in part because it draws so many non-locals, who cause parking and traffic problems and who are not necessarily respectful of the neighborhood. The Alberta Street Fair (albertastreetfair.com), held each August, is a bit like Last Thursday on steroids, and the neighborhood comes together at that time to celebrate its distinctiveness.

Alberta Arts District

The blocks north and south of Alberta are primarily filled with bungalows, Old Portlands (foursquares), and homes in other early-20th-century styles. Many of these houses have been lovingly restored, while others were quickly remodeled and “flipped” for a quick profit as real estate prices in the neighborhood skyrocketed in the early and middle ‘aughts. Still others are decidedly fixers. In addition to the older homes, some newer infill buildings, including new homes (built following teardowns or on vacant lots) and even some modern lofts, have been built in recent years. Alberta-area exteriors are notable for displaying a wider and brighter range of paint colors than those in more established neighborhoods. The neighborhood’s transition started earlier in the zone south of Alberta Street (i.e., closer to the expensive homes on Alameda Ridge) than in the area to the north; the percentage of renovated homes is generally lower the farther north you go, but don’t expect a bargain even on a rundown house within walking distance of Alberta. Keep in mind, too, that gentrification has not brought an end to crime or to urban annoyances like graffiti, and spending a small fortune for a beautifully restored bungalow with original woodwork and exquisite built-ins does not guarantee that your neighbor won’t be selling drugs out of his house.

Vernon, and Woodlawn

The heart of Alberta falls within the boundaries of the compact Vernon neighborhood. The northern and western part of the Alberta district technically falls within the Woodlawn area. This area tends to have smaller and less expensive homes than more southerly neighborhoods, but has many of the same characteristics. The neighborhood has the distinction (dubious or enviable, depending on your point of view) of being home to Oregon’s first cannabis café, on Northeast Dekum. Stoners shouldn’t get too excited (if that’s even possible): the café is open only to members of NORML (a marijuana pro-legalization group) who have medical marijuana cards. More conventional businesses line Martin Luther King, Jr., Boulevard at the west end of the Woodlawn neighborhood, including a whole crop of new, trendy cafés, restaurants, and boutiques. Controversy surrounded plans for a new Trader Joe’s grocery store to be built in a vacant lot at the intersection of MLK and Alberta Street; the company withdrew from the project in 2014 in the face of vocal (if not necessarily widespread) opposition by local community members opposed to gentrification. Natural Grocers is now expected to build and anchor a facility including commercial and retail space in the vacant lot. The gentrification process is less advanced in Woodlawn than in adjacent districts, and the neighborhood is still a bit rough around the edges. Freight trains run along tracks at the foot of the bluff near Lombard Street at the northern edge of the neighborhood, and train whistles and other noise bother some residents.

Concordia

The Concordia neighborhood, named for Concordia University, includes the eastern half of the Alberta district (which is not an official neighborhood), but also extends further north and east. The blocks beyond the Alberta area consist of quiet, generally well-kept single family houses, with a couple of exceptions: Killingsworth Street, which runs parallel to Alberta several blocks to the north, is undergoing a revitalization of its own, with new businesses opening on a regular basis. The intersection with 33rd Avenue is particularly hopping, thanks to the presence of the New Seasons market, and the corner of Killingsworth and 31st has become one of the city’s premier foodie destinations, boasting several top restaurants such as Beast, Cocotte, and DOC. Just to the north, McMenamins Kennedy School is an old elementary school that has been converted to a bar–hotel–movie theater complex; the clever remodel includes kid-height drinking fountains, blackboards in the guest rooms, and “Honors” and “Detention” bars. The tiled soaking pool, which is otherwise only open to overnight guests and paying members of the public, is available for neighborhood residents with picture ID to use for free. The mix of homes in “outer” Concordia is similar to the mix near Alberta, but the average home size is slightly smaller, and a few Cape Cods and ranches are thrown into the mix. Many of the old one-and-a-half-story bungalows have attic space that has been converted into office space, bedrooms, or luxurious (albeit low-headroom) master suites. Fernhill Park, at the eastern end of the neighborhood, with sports fields, a playground, and a wading pool, is the venue for free summer concerts.

Concordia

The Alberta Area lacks significant woodsy greenspaces, but it has several attractive neighborhood parks, including Alberta Park and Woodlawn Park. While the area around Alberta Street is definitely urban and relatively close-in, the city’s grid layout means there is no direct route to downtown Portland, which lies due southwest of the neighborhood. Cars and buses alike either have to travel west to Interstate 5 or Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and head south, or travel down 33rd Avenue to Broadway or Interstate 84 and head west. (To put it in geometrical terms, to get to downtown Portland you have to travel along two sides of an isosceles triangle rather than down the hypotenuse.) As a result, travel times are longer than the relatively short distance would suggest: about 15 minutes by car, and at least 20 minutes by bus. Several bus routes serve the area, but many transit trips involve a transfer to light rail.

Other Northeast Neighborhoods
Neighborhood Associations: Cully, East Columbia, Madison South, Roseway, Sunderland
Sunderland, East Columbia, and Cully

The neighborhoods that lie in the triangle from the Portland Airport vicinity to Interstate 205 and south to Interstate 84 are often overlooked in home searches, although some homes here offer excellent value. Sunderland and East Columbia, near the airport, are mainly industrial, although East Columbia includes an enclave of single-family contemporary homes near the Columbia Edgewater Country Club. Sunderland is home to the city’s recycling yard as well as to Dignity Village, a semi-permanent, self-governing tent camp for the city’s homeless. The northern tip of Sunderland touches the Columbia River, where some houseboats are moored. In contrast to these sparsely populated neighborhoods, Cully has a substantial population—about 13,000 people—and is one of the most diverse areas of the city. The areas adjacent to the Rose City Park and Beaumont Village/Wilshire Park areas, north of Fremont and the Rose City Cemetery, offer some attractive small bungalows along with newer (but still small) ranch homes and some infill development. Many properties have large lots, and in some parts of the neighborhood you can almost image being in a rural area (if you squint and plug your ears). Indeed, in 2014 an errant black bear was removed from a tree here, which is not something that has happened in closer-in Northeast neighborhoods in recent years. The northern part of the neighborhood is largely light industrial, and this part of Cully sometimes suffers from airplane noise. Parts of the neighborhood are neat as a pin, while in others neatness is an exception. Much of the neighborhood lacks sidewalks, and many of the streets are unpaved. Moreover, while there are parks in adjacent neighborhoods, Cully itself is somewhat park-deficient; the main “park” is the grounds of Rigler Elementary School (which has an adjacent community garden). Many Cully residents complain that the city pays insufficient attention to the needs of their neighborhood. That said, there is some housing stock with good bones here, and per-square-foot housing prices are among the lowest in the city.

Cully
Roseway, Madison South, and Sumner

The Roseway neighborhood straddles a not very attractive, but slowly improving, section of Northeast Sandy Boulevard. The neighborhood has more than its share of “adult” shops on Sandy, but it also has some lovely bungalows, English-style cottages, Cape Cods, and ranches on quiet, walkable streets. Home prices here are a bit higher than in other outlying parts of Northeast Portland, but are substantially lower than in the more fashionable, closer-in neighborhoods. Roseway has good bus service along Sandy, Fremont, Prescott, and 82nd, and the neighborhood is reasonably close to the airport and main Eastside MAX lines. The adjacent Madison South neighborhood has somewhat newer homes on average than other neighborhoods west of Interstate 205, although there are still plenty of prewar homes “with character” here. In general, housing here is even less expensive than in Roseway, except for homes on Rocky Butte, the hill abutting Interstate 205 east of 82nd Avenue, which tend to be custom-designed structures with great views of downtown Portland, the Cascades, or (less appealingly) the airport. Rocky Butte homes are much pricier than homes elsewhere in the neighborhood, and some are valued at more than a million dollars. Rocky Butte features a summit lookout and some popular hiking and rock climbing locations. Madison South is also home to the Grotto, a peaceful Catholic garden/retreat that is famed for its Christmas light display and musical performances. The small neighborhood of Sumner just to the north has a few small cottages, but is dominated by light industrial facilities and various hotels, restaurants, and other sites associated with the nearby airport. Madison South and Sumner have excellent bus and MAX access.

ZIP Codes
97211, 97212, 97213, 97218, 97220, 97232,
Post Offices
Airport Mail Facility, 7460 NE Airport Way; Holladay Park Post Office, 815 NE Schuyler St; Piedmont Post Office, 630 NE Killingsworth St; Rose City Park Post Office, 2425 NE 50th Ave
Police Stations
Portland Police Bureau, North Precinct, 449 NE Emerson St, 503-823-5700 (non-emergency); East Precinct (for Madison South only), 737 SE 106th Ave, 503-823-4800 (non-emergency)
Emergency Hospitals
Legacy Emanuel Medical Center, 2801 N Gantenbein Ave, 503-413-2200, legacyhealth.org; Providence Portland Medical Center, 4805 NE Glisan St, 503-215-1111, providence.org
Libraries
Albina Library, 3605 NE 15th Ave, 503-988-5362; Gregory Heights Library, 7921 NE Sandy Blvd, 503-988-5386; Hollywood Library, 4040 NE Tillamook St, 503-988-5391
Parks
Major parks include Irving Park, Grant Park, Wilshire Park, Normandale Park, Rose City Park, Alberta Park, and Rocky Butte; portlandparks.org
Community Publication
Hollywood Star, star-news.info
Public Transportation
TriMet, 503-238-RIDE, trimet.org; extensive bus network on main streets, especially in close-in neighborhoods; Eastside and Airport MAX lines serve southern and eastern neighborhoods.

Southeast Portland

Boundaries: North: East Burnside Street (official); Interstate 84 (unofficial); West: Willamette River; South: Milwaukie; East: 82nd Avenue (approximate)

Southeast Portland is in many ways the epitome of the image some people conjure up when they think of Portland: funky cafés, second-hand boutiques, tree-lined streets lined with old houses, plenty of aging hippies and bearded hipsters, bike riders galore, and one of the most consistently liberal voting records of any neighborhood in the country. While the Legalize Pot and Free Mumia crowds are certainly a part of the neighborhood fabric, Southeast Portland is also the haunt of families, immigrants, students, professionals working for The Man, artisans, drug addicts, retirees, construction workers, and community and political activists of every stripe. Since not all of these types of people are usually found in the same place, it’s safe to say that most people will feel at home somewhere in Southeast Portland—unless you’re, like, too uptight, man.

Inner Southeast

Inner Southeast Portland

Neighborhood Associations: Brooklyn, Buckman, Hosford-Abernethy, Kerns

The neighborhoods of inner Southeast Portland—the zone extending east of the Willamette River to roughly 28th Avenue—are a pastiche of tight-knit, generally laid-back urban environments where the neighborhood coffee shop is just around the block and there’s always a new up-and-coming band at the bar down the street. These neighborhoods have perhaps the highest hipster quotient in the city, and (or but, depending on your point of view) also boast the country’s highest percentage of residents who commute by bicycle.

Central Eastside Industrial District

The blocks closest to the river make up the Central Eastside Industrial District, a district zoned for commercial, warehouse, and light industrial use. In many ways it is the city’s workshop, with many “artisanal” industries—tile makers, lampwrights, microdistilleries, specialty food companies, etc.—headquartered here, along with some less sexy but equally necessary businesses, like store fixture and used office furniture stores. Some worthy bars and eateries appear among the warehouses; cheeky, popular Bistro Montage (montageportland.com) lurks, troll-like, under the Morrison Bridge approach ramps, while the Produce Row Café (producerowcafe.com) has a popular outdoor beer garden. Formerly grimy Water Avenue is home to trendy Boke Bowl, the Bunk Sandwich Bar, Hair of the Dog Brewery, and Clarklewis restaurant. The stretch of East Burnside east of the bridge has gone from being a sketchy auxiliary skid row to hosting a bevy of upscale, trendy establishments, like the neo-mid-century Doug Fir Lounge (dougfirlounge.com) and celebrated restaurant Le Pigeon (lepigeon.com). This area has been unofficially rechristened as Lower Burnside (or, if you must, LoBu).

The Industrial District is also home to the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI), which sits along the river almost directly beneath the clunky double deck of Interstate 5’s Marquam Bridge. Unfortunately, Interstate 5 cuts off the rest of the Inner Eastside from its riverfront; the only river access between OMSI and the Steel Bridge is the Vera Katz Eastbank Esplanade. Opened in 2001, the Esplanade is a partly-fixed, partly-floating bike and pedestrian walkway that runs between the Hawthorne and Burnside bridges. Signs indicate where the main east-west streets would run (if they weren’t on the other side of six lanes of roaring traffic). The Industrial District is essentially an industrial reserve, intended to maintain space where high-wage businesses can start and grow close to the city center, and housing developments are not allowed. Still, a few old Victorian houses, many of them beautifully (and colorfully) restored, linger poignantly among the industrial facilities and warehouses.

Inner Southeast
Kerns, and Buckman

A few blocks in from the river, apartment buildings and other residential buildings start to become more common. In the Kerns and Buckman neighborhoods, to the north and south, respectively, of East Burnside Street, prewar walkup apartment buildings and duplexes mix with many old single-family homes and a crop of two-story 1960s-era apartment complexes randomly scattered through the neighborhoods; the latter have provided affordable housing for two generations of young people. A flurry of loft and apartment building construction is beginning to radically transform the streetscape along the main thoroughfares; because these buildings often lack adequate off-street parking, and the new residents are not as car-free as the developers would have people believe, finding on-street parking is becoming a problem in some areas. Kerns and Buckman both feature abundant commercial zones, including popular bars and restaurants. In particular, the intersection of East Burnside and 28th Avenue draws visitors from around the city to its strip of businesses, including boutiques, wine bars, acclaimed restaurants like Ken’s Artisan Pizza (kensartisan.com), and cafés; the strip has been dubbed “Restaurant Row.” For some reason most of the restaurants cluster on the east side of 28th. The second-run, multi-screen, deco-style Laurelhurst Theater is also at this intersection. A smaller commercial zone at Glisan and 28th includes popular Cuban restaurant Pambiche (pambiche.com) and the funky Laurelthirst Public House. The Buckman Portland Farmers’ Market (portlandfarmersmarket.org) is held at Southeast Salmon Street and 20th Avenue on summer Thursday afternoons and evenings. Historic Lone Fir Cemetery, between Stark and Belmont Streets, is the final resting place for many of Portland’s early movers and shakers; it also serves as a de facto greenspace for the surrounding neighborhood. For an impromptu history game, walk among the graves and try to match the names on headstones to Portland street names. The range of amenities, diverse housing options, and proximity to downtown Portland by bike make these neighborhoods popular choices with young singles and couples. Buckman and Kerns tend to be less popular with families and older couples and singles, in part because of the relative lack of parks, the somewhat transient young population, and the many busy thoroughfares that traverse these neighborhoods. Prices and housing options vary widely, although bargains are few; the vacancy rate is the lowest in the city, but average rents are not as high as the low vacancy rate might suggest.

Hosford-Abernethy, and Ladd's Addition

Just south of the Buckman neighborhood, and north of Brooklyn, lies the Hosford-Abernethy neighborhood, the most well known portion of which is Ladd’s Addition. South of Hawthorne Boulevard, between 12th and 20th Avenues, Ladd’s Addition smashes the street grid of Southeast Portland with a series of diagonal streets and circles that slice the neighborhood into a group of circles, triangles, quadrilaterals, diamonds, and other shapes that would make any high school geometry teacher drool. The neighborhood has five rose gardens: a large one in the central circle, with four smaller, diamond-shaped gardens. Unfortunately, virtually no one from outside the neighborhood gets to see these gardens, because to the uninitiated they are impossible to find. On the plus side for residents, the confusing street layout ensures that few drivers try to take short cuts through the neighborhood, and those that do rarely attempt a second incursion. (The lack of car traffic makes the streets of Ladd’s Addition a popular route for bicyclists, and there are frequent pulses of bike traffic down Ladd Avenue during morning and evening rush hours.)

Ladd’s Addition

The story behind the neighborhood’s unusual geometry is that the developer, William Ladd (who was posthumously responsible for Laurelhurst, Eastmoreland, and several other notable Portland neighborhoods) supposedly sought to emulate Pierre L’Enfant’s design for Washington, D.C., on a small scale. Ladd’s Addition was platted in 1891, but due to an economic downturn no homes were built until 1905.

The homes that were built in Ladd’s range from petite bungalows and Spanish-style homes with red tile roofs to enormous Arts and Crafts homes, with some postwar ranches and Cape Cods thrown in for chuckles. A few older garden court–type apartments can also be found here. The neighborhood has become very expensive, although a few choice houses in the neighborhood still await restoration (which doesn’t mean they’re cheap). The elm-shaded streets and grand old homes, combined with its location just over a mile from downtown Portland, make Ladd’s Addition one of the most sought-after places to live in Southeast Portland. Needless to say, houses do not linger on the market here.

Most residents are either retired or are high-income professionals, including professionals with children. (The neighborhood’s Abernethy Elementary School has an innovative curriculum and is highly regarded.) While the heart of Ladd’s Addition is residential (barring the Palio Dessert and Espresso house on Ladd Circle, at the very center of the neighborhood, if you can find it), the entire neighborhood is within easy walking distance of the shops, restaurants, and cafés on Hawthorne Boulevard and on Division and Clinton Streets. In 2009 the American Planning Association named Ladd’s Addition one of America’s top 10 “Great Neighborhoods,” citing its historical character, unique design, and bike- and pedestrian-friendliness. Indeed, Ladd’s Addition represents a sort of idealized Portland—a leafy neighborhood of single-family homes, but within walking and biking distance to everything—that has become increasingly had to find in reality.

Colonial Heights

The gently rising area to the east of Ladd’s Addition is known as Colonial Heights. The neighborhood’s name does not refer to the houses themselves; while there are a few Dutch colonial houses in the neighborhood, the bulk of the housing stock is bungalows, English-style cottages, and other styles from the 1920s and 1930s, with a fair number of infill 1950s ranches mixed in. The neighborhood has an unusual number of churches, but is otherwise generally residential; as in Ladd’s Addition, however, the shopping zones along Hawthorne Boulevard and Division Street are within a short walk of any point in the neighborhood. Colonial Heights does sit on a small hill, and some homes have peek-a-boo views of downtown Portland and the West Hills. In general, home prices here are lower than in Ladd’s Addition, but higher than some of the nearby neighborhoods to the east and south.

Colonial Heights
Clinton Street

The Clinton Street neighborhood centers on the cluster of restaurants, bars, cafés, and the Clinton Street Theater (cstpdx.com) at Southeast 26th and Clinton, but the area popularly identified as Clinton Street reaches as far west as 12th Avenue. (Although Division Street is a main thoroughfare and carries substantially more traffic than Clinton Street, the prewar streetcars ran along Clinton, and locals continue to use the old name for the neighborhood.) The neighborhood housing stock consists mostly of small to mid-size bungalows with small but often lovingly landscaped yards, along with some 1960s apartment buildings and a smattering of warehouses and other commercial buildings, especially in the western end of the neighborhood. Many of the older homes have been renovated, while some haven’t seen a paintbrush in decades, although the former now outnumber the latter. A few modern condos, townhomes, and commercial buildings have gone up in the neighborhood, not all of which are to residents’ liking, and new businesses are opening up and down Clinton Street and on a few intersecting streets.

Clinton Street

New businesses have cropped up on Division Street, too, most notably the New Seasons supermarket, which is credited with helping spark the neighborhood’s renaissance. The Seven Corners intersection, where SE Division, SE 20th, and SE Ladd all meet, is sometimes called the Seven Corners Progressive Vortex because of its concentration of progressive businesses. Just south on 21st, the venerable People’s Food Co-op (peoples.coop) supplies the neighborhood with organic produce and bulk foods; the store also hosts one of the city’s few year-round farmers’ markets. Further east, Division becomes a restaurant row, lined with some of the city’s most-lauded restaurants. (See “The Hawthorne, Belmont, and Division Street Districts” below.)

Brooklyn

South of Powell Boulevard, historic Brooklyn began its existence in the 19th century as a working-class, largely Italian enclave centered on the neighborhood’s extensive rail yards. The Italians are mostly gone, but the rail yards remain, and, between freight trains to the east and truck and commuter traffic on McLoughlin Boulevard to the west, this triangle-shaped neighborhood remains a transit hub. Brooklyn contains some warehouses and light industrial buildings, along with a few bars and restaurants and the Aladdin Theater, one of the best places in the city to see live music, on Milwaukie Avenue, but the bulk of the neighborhood is residential. Homes here range from grand Victorians and cute bungalows to apartments and a few postwar ranches. Many of the larger homes have been converted to multi-family use, and more than half of Brooklyn residents are renters. The neighborhood is a demographic mixed bag, with a mingling of families, singles, childless couples, and long-time elderly residents of widely varying income levels, which reflects its wide appeal to everyone from Aunt Petunia to international guitar gods. (Ex-Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr bought a house here when he moved from England to Portland to join indie band Modest Mouse.) Despite the neighborhood’s working-class roots, the single-family houses for sale here don’t boast working-class price tags: the average home price is somewhat higher than the city average. Prices are increasing in Brooklyn much faster than in most Portland neighborhoods, perhaps driven by the new MAX light-rail line through the eastern part of the neighborhood that is slated to open in late 2015.

Brooklyn

All the Inner Southeast neighborhoods are within a 5-minute drive or 10-minute bus trip or bike ride of downtown Portland. The CL streetcar line from the Lloyd District to OMSI runs along MLK Jr. Boulevard (southbound) and Grand Avenue (northbound); an extension across the Tilikum Bridge to the South Waterfront District is scheduled to open in late 2015. The new MAX light-rail line to Milwaukie, also slated to begin service in late 2015, will include a Brooklyn station at SE 17th Avenue and Rhine Street.

Laurelhurst

Neighborhood Association: Laurelhurst

The imposing sandstone arches that mark the main entrances to Laurelhurst suggest that the neighborhood is special—or “high-class,” as the Laurelhurst Company promised in its circa 1910 promotional materials. From the beginning, Laurelhurst was intended to be a relatively exclusive district. The company, a spinoff of the Ladd Estate Company (which was responsible for creating the Eastmoreland, Westmoreland, and eponymous Ladd’s Addition neighborhoods in Southeast Portland), hired the Olmsted brothers to design the neighborhood’s sinuous streets, and enforced a minimum home cost to keep the riff-raff out.

Nearly a century later, Laurelhurst is still one of the most sought-after (and thus expensive) neighborhoods on Portland’s Eastside. Home prices are comparable to prices in Alameda and Eastmoreland, and Laurelhurst’s demographics and general feel are comparable to those neighborhoods in many respects. Laurelhurst is entirely residential, and the overwhelming majority of homes are single-family detached houses built between 1910 and the Second World War. Architecture runs the gamut of prewar styles, from foursquares to tile-roofed Spanish colonials, although bungalows of various sizes and configurations are the most common house types. Although many of these houses are quite grand, and some are bona fide mansions, lot sizes tend to be relatively small. Laurelhurst has an active neighborhood association that maintains constant vigilance, watching for developments that might affect the neighborhood’s livability.

Laurelhurst

Demographically, Laurelhurst has a high concentration of affluent professionals, and the neighborhood is a mix of long-time residents and young families; many of the latter are attracted by the quality of the neighborhood’s Laurelhurst Elementary School. Another attraction is Laurelhurst Park, which is sometimes referred to as the Portland equivalent of New York’s Central Park. That comparison overstates things, but the park is undoubtedly lovely, and features a spring-fed lake, mature trees, a playground, and tennis and basketball courts. (Like Central Park, however, Laurelhurst Park is not entirely safe at night, although the neighborhood itself has a relatively low crime rate.) Laurelhurst’s other notable landmark, Coe Circle, at the intersection of Northeast Glisan Street and César E. Chávez Boulevard, contains a gilded statue of Joan of Arc. Just west on Glisan, Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church hosts a popular Greek Festival each October.

Laurelhurst’s curving streets are generally quiet, but busy Burnside, Glisan, and Stark Streets, and César E. Chávez Boulevard (renamed from 39th Avenue in 2009, not without controversy) all cut through or border the neighborhood, and Interstate 84 runs along the northern boundary. While these major thoroughfares bring traffic and noise concerns, they also ensure that the neighborhood is well-connected, with plenty of transit options. Several bus lines serve Laurelhurst, and the Hollywood/42nd Avenue MAX stop is a short walk away; downtown Portland is about a 10-minute drive down Burnside or on the freeway. There are no restaurants or other businesses within Laurelhurst proper, but most homes are within walking distance of at least one of the nearby business districts in Hollywood, the Belmont district, Burnside Street west of 32nd Avenue, or the restaurant row on Northeast 28th Avenue.

The Hawthorne, Belmont, and Division Street Districts

Neighborhood Associations: Richmond, Sunnyside
Hawthorne District

Hawthorne Boulevard was known as Asylum Avenue until the late 1880s. Although a few people still call it that, presumably tongue-in-cheek, it is known today as the heart of the Hawthorne District, a strip of restaurants, bars, cafés, and many kinds of shops that stretches for nearly 30 blocks from the vicinity of Ladd’s Addition toward the base of Mount Tabor. Sometimes described as Portland’s “Bohemian” neighborhood, or the Portland equivalent of Haight-Ashbury, Hawthorne has nonetheless lost much of its countercultural vibe in recent years (and, for that matter, the neighborhood has few immigrants from the Czech region of Bohemia). Yes, there are head shops and Grateful Dead–themed pubs along Hawthorne—and if there’s a less attractive store logo than the prone-ancient-bearded-dwarf-hippie-with-bong picture that announces Smoking Glass, we’ve never seen it—but they are overwhelmingly outnumbered by a diverse host of other businesses.

Hawthorne District

There are far too many interesting establishments along Hawthorne to flag just one or two examples, but the heart of the business district is at 37th and Hawthorne, a spot that used to be called karma corner because you would inevitably run into old acquaintances (or boy- or girlfriends) there. This is still a danger, thanks to attractions like the Bagdad Theater and Pub on the southeast corner, or the Powell’s Books branch on the north side of the street, which pull visitors from all over the city. The business district continues east of 39th Avenue/César Chávez Boulevard as far as 50th Avenue, although development is less dense here. The trendy bars at the upper end of Hawthorne are popular destinations for pub crawls; this stretch of the street is sometimes referred to as the Stumble Zone, for obvious reasons.

Belmont Street

Paralleling Hawthorne six blocks to the north, Belmont Street has a similar, but smaller, selection of businesses. The Belmont Dairy mixed-use complex houses apartments, townhomes, and an upscale Zupan’s supermarket; to either side and across the street are restaurants, coffeehouses, an old movie theater-cum­video arcade (the Avalon), antique stores, and boutiques. A Walgreen’s on the corner of Belmont and 39th/César Chávez does a brisk late-night trade. The Belmont business district continues east of César Chávez in an intermittent, desultory way; highlights include Movie Madness (possibly the best video rental store in the Northwest, moviemadnessvideo.com) and the British-style Horse Brass Pub (horsebrass.com), which has a legendary beer selection and screens English Premier League soccer games.

Belmont Street
Division Street

Paralleling Hawthorne a few blocks to the south, Division Street is one of the city’s most rapidly changing thoroughfares. The half-mile or so west of César Chávez has seen a boom in residential loft and apartment building construction, but at the same time it has evolved into perhaps the city’s pre-eminent “restaurant row.” This part of Division is home to restaurants as diverse as nationally renowned Pok Pok (pokpokpdx.com, Thai street food), Ava Gene’s (avagenes.com, high-end rustic Italian), Xico (xicopdx.com, inventive Mexican-inspired cuisine), and Lauretta Jean’s (laurettajean.com, handmade pies), to name just a few. Division does not yet have the shopping options that Hawthorne enjoys, but it has now surpassed Hawthorne in the eateries department.

Richmond, and Sunnyside

The residential neighborhoods that flank Hawthorne, Belmont, and Division house a mix of twenty-something singles, original hippies and their latter-day wanna-bes, skate punks, professionals, blue-collar workers, and both bona fide and aspiring indie pop stars. A substantial number of families with children also live in the area, particularly east of 39th Avenue/César Chávez. The neighborhood south of Hawthorne, officially known as Richmond, has a higher proportion of homeowners than the blocks north of Hawthorne (officially known as Sunnyside), but single-family and multi-family dwellings are found throughout the area.

Most homes in this area are bungalows, foursquares, or other prewar types, although some new townhomes, custom homes, and tall, skinny detached homes on narrow lots are being built as infill or as replacements for dilapidated older homes, and apartment bunkers are being slapped up with seeming abandon on the main streets. The old streetcar line down Belmont, opened in the 1880s, was the first line on the Eastside, and the adjacent blocks have a higher concentration of Victorians than most other parts of the city. (The Pied Cow coffeehouse on Belmont occupies one of these.) There are also plenty of 1920s garden apartments and brick walkups, along with hulking 1960s-era low-rise apartment complexes and some spanking new condos like the strikingly modern (and controversial) Belmont Street Lofts. Particularly east of César Chávez, these streets also offer other varieties of old houses, including English Tudor–style cottages, Cape Cods, and even a few ranches. Peacock Lane, which parallels César Chávez one block to the east between Belmont and Stark, is a street of 1920s-vintage English cottages known for its annual holiday light display.

Thanks to the close-in location and the abundant local shopping and dining opportunities, the median price for a single-family home in this area is well above the city average, but less than in more exclusive, predominantly residential neighborhoods to the north. Homes are generally more expensive east of César Chávez and less expensive south of Division Street, in an area that has not been as popular for as long as the zone closer to Hawthorne Boulevard. The Waverly Heights neighborhood, west of César Chávez Boulevard between Division and Powell, was for many years a good bet for more affordable older homes, but the redevelopment on Division has pushed up prices in this area. For many people, these neighborhoods represent a good compromise between price, location, and urban amenities.

Throughout the area, home conditions and neighborhood “feel” can vary tremendously from one block to another: some blocks are lined with restored Craftsman bungalows with mature shade trees and laughing children on tricycles, while others have ramshackle houses with overgrown yards next to grim, windowless mystery buildings. Unless you are a fan of loud, late-night drunken conversations, you may want to avoid living within a block or so of the main commercial zones. Also be aware that on-street parking can be in short supply near Hawthorne, Belmont, and Division Streets. Many of the old houses in these neighborhoods maximize their small lot sizes by sharing a single driveway between two neighboring homes; often each house will have its own small garage at the rear of the lot.

These districts enjoy frequent bus service down Hawthorne, Belmont, Division, and Powell to downtown Portland, and north along 39th/César Chávez to the Hollywood MAX stop. It is a quick bike ride down designated low-traffic “bike boulevards” to downtown Portland, and these neighborhoods have one of the city’s highest percentages of bike commuters. By car, it’s a 10-minute shot west over the Hawthorne or Morrison bridges into downtown Portland.

Mount Tabor

Neighborhood Association: Mount Tabor

Mount Tabor, the tree-clad butte that dominates the landscape about four miles due east of downtown Portland, is home to one of the city’s most diverse and popular parks. The park includes playgrounds, picnic areas, hiking trails, tennis courts, an off-leash dog park, and an extinct volcano. The park also has three open-air (but fenced-off) reservoirs, built in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. (The city’s effort to cap the reservoirs for security reasons after the September 11 attacks met with a firestorm of opposition, and the reservoirs apparently will remain uncovered for now.) Mount Tabor offers fantastic, tree-framed views of Mount Hood, Mount St. Helens, and downtown Portland, too; the lawn on the west slope, just below the summit, is a favorite spot to watch the sun set over downtown and the West Hills, as the lights of Hawthorne Boulevard twinkle on 500 feet below.

Mount Tabor

Forest (and later, fruit orchards) covered Mount Tabor and the surrounding area until the late 19th century, when the Belmont streetcar line reached the neighborhood and significant residential development began. The western part of the neighborhood, especially the area between Hawthorne Boulevard and Stark Street just downhill from the park, contains some truly grand houses in a mix of styles ranging from Italianate and Queen Anne Victorian to Arts and Crafts and colonial revival. Many of these homes have views of the downtown skyline, and some have large yards with massive specimen trees—giant sequoias, monkey-puzzle trees, or European beeches, for example—that are now well over a century old. Interspersed with these elegant near-mansions are a host of more modest bungalows, foursquares, Dutch colonials, and English cottages; the first two styles are especially prevalent on the blocks south of Hawthorne, which are similar to the residential areas of the Hawthorne District proper and generally feature a younger mix of residents. High up on the north side of the hill, just below the northern entrance to the park, Belmont passes through a separate enclave of bungalows and other prewar homes; in addition to easy access to the park, many of these homes have wonderful Mount Hood views. The slopes downhill and further north were developed much later, and include a large number of mid-century ranches, many with views north to Mount St. Helens. The slightly less fashionable blocks to the east and northeast of the park have a mix of prewar and mid-century homes, many of which have been restored in recent years; again, thanks to the salutary effects of elevation, many of these homes have views of Mount Hood and Interstate 205 (which, from a distance of about a mile, is actually not a bad prospect). In general, Mount Tabor home prices are higher than in the adjacent flatlands, but lower than in fashionable closer-in neighborhoods such as Irvington. About a third of the neighborhood residents rent; rentals are most common on the western and northern fringes of Mount Tabor.

Warner Pacific College, a Christian liberal arts college, has a campus on Southeast Division Street, adjacent to the south end of the park. (A proposed college expansion onto city-owned land generated heated neighborhood opposition, and appears to be dead.) Apart from a few small, isolated businesses, there are essentially no commercial areas within the Mount Tabor neighborhood, but most homes are within walking distance of a shopping district: the Hawthorne and Belmont districts on the west side, the burgeoning commercial district along Southeast Stark Street in Montavilla on the east side, and, on the north side, the QFC supermarket on Burnside Street and the Fred Meyer on Northeast Glisan Street, along with some smaller associated businesses.

It’s a 10- to 15-minute drive or 20- to 25-minute bike ride from Mount Tabor west to downtown Portland. Buses run east-west along Burnside, Belmont, and Division Streets, and north-south along Southeast 60th Avenue; the northernmost part of the neighborhood is within walking distance of the MAX stop at Northeast 60th.

Sellwood & The Morelands

Neighborhood Associations: Eastmoreland, Sellwood-Moreland
Eastmoreland

Eastmoreland lies south of (but technically includes) the classic campus of Reed College, with its old brick buildings and lawns filled with frisbee-throwing undergraduates. The neighborhood is worthy of its setting, with many truly grand homes on wide, tree-lined, curving streets that desultorily defy the city’s grid. (Eastmoreland, like several other classic Eastside neighborhoods, was developed by the Ladd Estate Company, whose planners seemed to disregard the grid almost as a point of pride.) Most of the homes predate the Second World War, although unlike many other Southeast Portland neighborhoods, Eastmoreland has a relative dearth of Craftsman bungalows: the area mostly developed after the bungalow style had become passé. Instead, one finds an abundance of generally large, well-maintained Tudor, colonial revival, stone manor, and other traditional styles, and also some nicely designed mid-century homes, mostly on corner lots that had remained vacant during the war. There are also a few bona fide mansions, as well as some more modest homes, particularly in the southern end of the neighborhood. Eastmoreland has a gracious, beautifully landscaped feel, with a strong sense of community spirit; the latter manifests itself in strident opposition to attempts to tear down existing homes to build infill dwellings that are deemed not in accord with the neighborhood character.

Eastmoreland

Eastmoreland is one of the most established and expensive neighborhoods on Portland’s eastside, and residents are generally affluent—but demographically they include a mix of tenured professors, a few students and recent graduates, mid-career professionals, retirees, and young families. In addition to the lush grounds of many homes in the neighborhood, Eastmoreland greenspaces include the centrally located Berkeley Park, Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden, the grounds of Reed College (including a small but surprisingly wild canyon), and Eastmoreland Golf Course. The grassy, shady median strip of Reed College Place is a popular walking route. There are virtually no businesses within Eastmoreland, but the neighborhood is a relatively short walk or drive from either Woodstock or Westmoreland (see below).

An unusual feature of the neighborhood is the Reed College nuclear reactor. The reactor produces very little heat, so despite the terrifying prospect of liberal arts students operating a nuclear reactor, a China Syndrome–style (or Modern Chinese Studies Syndrome–style) meltdown is not really a concern. A single bus line to downtown Portland serves the heart of Eastmoreland, although additional bus service is available on nearby streets.

Westmoreland

To the west, across the railroad tracks and over busy McLoughlin Boulevard, is the aptly named Westmoreland neighborhood. Westmoreland was another Ladd development, but amazingly it is laid out according to the city grid. Milwaukie Avenue (which, although a named thoroughfare, runs north-south) is the neighborhood’s main drag, with restaurants, shops, banks, a hardware store, the 1920s-vintage Moreland Theatre, and other establishments that give the neighborhood a small-town feel. The densest concentration of businesses is at the intersection of Milwaukie and Bybee Boulevard. The Moreland Farmers’ Market (morelandfarmersmarket.org) takes place one block to the west of this intersection on Wednesday afternoons from mid-May through late October. On either side of Milwaukie, quiet, shady side streets are lined with bungalows, Old Portlands, and other older homes, with the odd 1950s ranch for the sake of variety. The western end of the neighborhood lies atop a bluff that overlooks Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge, with views of downtown Portland, the Willamette River, and the West Hills.

Westmoreland
Sellwood

While it is connected both physically and in most Portlanders’ minds to Westmoreland, Sellwood predates its neighbor to the north. The area was an independent city and early rival of Portland before it was annexed in 1893, and it has tried for more than a century to maintain its identity. Bustling commercial districts line Southeast Tacoma Street and 13th and 17th Avenues, and most establishments are locally owned. Sellwood is less consciously hip than close-in neighborhoods further north—Sellwood’s best-known shopping experience is Antique Row, the parade of antique stores and malls along 13th Avenue—but the area offers everything from ethnic restaurants, bakeries, and children’s clothing stores to paint stores, factory outlet stores, and drive-through fast-food joints. New Seasons on Tacoma is a favorite local supermarket.

Sellwood
Garthwick

Sellwood, like Westmoreland, is filled with attractive older homes, including Victorians, along with some newer commercial and apartment buildings. In general, the housing mix is more diverse in Sellwood than Westmoreland. Homes at the top of the bluff along the Willamette offer views north to downtown Portland. A few condo complexes, and even a new office park, overlook the Willamette River near the Sellwood Bridge; a community of houseboats provides a fully water-oriented living option. Just south of Sellwood, the small enclave of Garthwick lies within Clackamas County but is technically part of the city of Portland. This neighborhood is adjacent to Waverly Country Club and is full of formal, traditional-style homes. Apart from the wealthy anomaly of Garthwick, homes in Westmoreland and Sellwood are more affordable than those in Eastmoreland, but are not inexpensive and are appreciating more rapidly.

Sellwood and Westmoreland are home to all sorts of people—young professional couples, singles, retirees, blue-collar workers, and 1960s dropouts—but both are becoming known as great family neighborhoods, with plenty of events like the Moreland Monster March around Halloween. This area has some excellent parks: besides Oaks Bottom, which is a prime birdwatching spot along the Willamette River, there are woodsy Sellwood Park; Sellwood Riverfront Park just below it, with river access; and Westmoreland Park, which includes an artificial casting pond (and a spring-fed lake that frequently overflows its banks). The Springwater Corridor, a long-distance bike and pedestrian path, runs from OMSI south to Sellwood, loops around the neighborhood, then follows an old rail line to Boring in Clackamas County. Other family-friendly neighborhood features include the Sellwood-Moreland Library in a new mixed-use building on 13th, which is walking distance from both Sellwood and Westmoreland, and century-old Oaks Amusement Park (oakspark.com), north of the Sellwood Bridge.

Sellwood

Speaking of the Sellwood Bridge, the rickety, two-lane span was long the weak link in the local transportation infrastructure. A properly sturdy replacement bridge is finally under construction and is scheduled to open in late 2015. In the meantime, a temporary bridge is in place. Other road connections north to downtown Portland or south to Clackamas County are reasonably efficient, but because railroad tracks and the high-speed thoroughfare of McLoughlin Boulevard cut off Westmoreland and Sellwood from the rest of the city, alternate routes are not plentiful. The new Orange Line MAX train to Milwaukie will run along McLoughlin Boulevard, with a stop serving Westmoreland/Eastmoreland and another at the east end of Sellwood. Bus service north to downtown Portland or south to the Milwaukie Transit Center is decent, if a bit pokey; bus service will likely be curtailed significantly once the MAX line starts running.

Reed, Creston-Kenilworth, and Woodstock

Neighborhood Associations: Creston-Kenilworth, Reed, Woodstock
Creston-Kenilworth

Occupying a narrow swath of Southeast Portland south of Powell and east of the railroad tracks, the Creston-Kenilworth neighborhood is relatively close to the Division Street and Hawthorne Boulevard shopping districts, but is far enough south of them to be overlooked in home searches. The neighborhood is named for two city parks in the area; wooded Creston Park has a popular outdoor pool. The neighborhood is a mix of older homes, similar to that in the Hawthorne District, but with more apartment houses (and somewhat more homes in obvious need of maintenance). Some streets are lined with beautifully restored classic houses, while others could use many gallons of paint (and a lead remediation crew). While Powell Boulevard still has a ways to go, as the presence of several “exotic dancing” establishments suggests, it has shed some of the seediness that has traditionally plagued it as new establishments like Hopworks Urban Brewery have moved in. The neighborhood shares many of the advantages and much of the vibe offered by the Hawthorne and Division Street districts, but at a lower price point that is much closer to the citywide median.

Reed

South of Holgate and west of 39th/César Chávez, the small Reed neighborhood is a mix of apartment complexes, some built in the 1960s, and small single-family homes (many rented by groups of students, wanna-be students, and others attracted by the proximity of Reed). Part of the neighborhood offers the standard Southeast Portland range of prewar houses, but a large section in the middle, known as Reedwood, is comprised of late 1960s-era ranch and two-story homes that were built on the site of a former botanical garden. Reed in general has well-maintained, nicely landscaped homes, but as in other neighborhoods, unwanted infill and teardowns are changing the neighborhood character. While most of the neighborhood is residential, César Chávez Boulevard hosts a popular Trader Joe’s. The Brooklyn rail yards border both Reed and Creston-Kenilworth to the west, and can cause sleepless nights for noise-sensitive people.

Woodstock

Across 39th/César Chávez, to the southeast of Reed and just east of Eastmoreland—you could call it the land more east of Eastmoreland, in semi-palindromic fashion, but you would probably be the only one who called it that—lies increasingly popular Woodstock. The neighborhood’s “downtown” is an unpretentious commercial strip along Southeast Woodstock Boulevard that contains about every kind of business you’re liable to need on a daily basis: a gourmet coffeehouse, a hardware store, a supermarket, a pub, a wine store, and several restaurants, such as the popular Otto’s Sausage Kitchen (ottossausage.com). A new Grand Central bakery and a New Seasons grocery, both indicia of a neighborhood’s growing popularity among the relatively affluent, have recently opened here. Woodstock Park is a few blocks to the north. The streets nearby are lined with the kinds of homes that make Southeast Portland a popular place to live, such as bungalows and cute cottages, but they are generally smaller and much less expensive here than in trendier neighborhoods; the average home in Woodstock is in line with the Portland median price. Woodstock has an abundance of unpaved alleys, a feature that some residents like but that some people find surprising. The outer edges of the neighborhood include some ranch-style homes, and infill development is occurring on larger lots. Woodstock has a strong community spirit, and the Woodstock Festival and Parade brings the whole neighborhood out each July.

Woodstock

Bus service on the major streets is adequate in all three neighborhoods; it’s a 15- to 30-minute ride to downtown Portland. By car, it takes about 10 to 20 minutes.

North Tabor, South Tabor, and Montavilla

Neighborhood Associations: Montavilla, North Tabor, South Tabor
North Tabor

The North Tabor neighborhood, not coincidentally located just north of Mount Tabor, renamed itself a few years ago to make its position clear. (The previous name, Center, was far less descriptive, as the neighborhood is not really in the center of anything.) Northeast 60th Avenue bisects the North Tabor neighborhood, and serves as a useful demarcation line. West of here, the neighborhood fancies itself an eastern extension of Laurelhurst. While that perception is not strictly true (and certainly Laurelhurst residents don’t see it that way)—for one thing, average home sizes are smaller here than in Laurelhurst, and the streets are straight—the neighborhood does contain many attractive older homes that would not be out-of-place in its western neighbor. There are some apartment buildings here, too, particularly near Interstate 84 and along Glisan near Providence Portland Hospital. This stretch of Glisan also features American Dream Pizza, home of the hand-twisted crust (when they’re not too busy to bother).

North Tabor

East of 60th, the neighborhood becomes much more mixed, particularly north of Glisan. While there are still many older homes here, there are also apartments, duplexes, Cape Cods, ranches, and assorted new infill buildings, not all of which have been calculated to blend in well with their neighbors. There are also few sidewalks. Prices are lower in this part of the neighborhood, however, and some homes have views of downtown and the West Hills from atop Rosemont Bluff, at about 68th Avenue. The southern part of the neighborhood is reasonable walking distance to Mount Tabor Park.

Both Burnside and Glisan Streets have supermarkets and other businesses, and a small business node at 60th and Glisan has a few popular bars. The neighborhood has easy access to major highways and transit; bus lines run along Glisan, Burnside, and 60th, and the 60th Avenue MAX stop offers a quick trip downtown or to the airport. Because of the proximity of Interstate 84, traffic noise can be annoying in the northern fringe of the neighborhood.

South Tabor

On the opposite side of Mount Tabor, South Tabor is a fairly quiet, unassuming small neighborhood. Most homes here are relatively modest older houses, and the neighborhood is substantially less expensive than the Hawthorne-area neighborhoods just to the west but has a lower crime rate than neighborhoods to the southeast. Clinton Park, in the western part of the neighborhood, contains various sports fields and is a popular gathering place on summer evenings. Some new commercial and residential development is occurring here, driven in part by the creeping influence of the Division Street renaissance, and many residents are optimistic about the future of the neighborhood. In general, the western part of the neighborhood is considered more desirable and is certainly changing more rapidly than the eastern part.

Montavilla

To the east and southeast of North Tabor, the large Montavilla neighborhood (a contraction of “Mount Tabor Villa”) contains both quiet neighborhoods of modest, well-kept single-family houses and the somewhat unpleasant strip mall that is 82nd Avenue, along with some associated apartment buildings. On average, Montavilla is one of Portland’s least expensive neighborhoods—the median home price is well below the city median—but it also has a thriving and rapidly evolving commercial district along Stark Street east of Mount Tabor. New businesses like the Bipartisan Café, spruced-up old businesses like the restored Academy Theater (academytheaterpdx.com), and a farmers’ market held on Sundays from June through October (montavillamarket.org) have helped attract new investment and new residents to the area.

Montavilla

Montavilla is a block-by-block kind of neighborhood, and while there are no longer any truly awful zones, some streets are much more attractive and have a palpably better vibe than others. In general, the neighborhoods just downslope of Mount Tabor within a few blocks of Stark Street are considered the most desirable and have seen the greatest influx of new residents, including families interested in living close-in and but priced out of neighborhoods farther west. The neighborhood is fairly well-served by transit, with bus lines on Burnside, Glisan, Belmont, and 82nd, and MAX lines along Interstate 84 to the north and Interstate 205 to the east. By car, downtown Portland is about a 15-minute drive (without traffic) or a 30-minute bike ride.

Other Southeast Portland Neighborhoods

Neighborhood Associations: Brentwood-Darlington, Foster-Powell, Mount Scott

Roughly south of Powell Boulevard and east of 52nd Avenue, the neighborhoods of Southeast Portland become less fashionable. This fact also means they become less expensive. Some people who make it their business to claim to know such things predict that these Southeast neighborhoods are destined to become the city’s next hotspot. The process has already started in some neighborhoods, so you might want to get in while the getting’s good. At the same time, parts of Southeast Portland are not for everyone. Many areas have a high crime rate, and 82nd Avenue has a long way to go before it overcomes its totally justified reputation as an enormous seedy strip mall; prostitution activity has historically been a major complaint of residents here. Even 82nd is beginning to improve, however, as an influx of Asian businesses, including the enormous Fubonn Mall (fubonn.com), start to replace the “lingerie modeling” shacks and windowless taverns.

Foster-Powell

Foster-Powell is a triangular and perhaps up-and-coming neighborhood between the major thoroughfares of Powell Boulevard and Foster Road. The neighborhood is home to both long-time residents and to recent immigrants with very different origins, as the business signs in Russian, Vietnamese, and Spanish attest, but it is also drawing in self-conscious urban pioneers who are on the lookout for bargains. Even Foster Road, which was for many years the red-headed stepchild of Southeast Portland thoroughfares, has begun to see some new cafés and other harbingers of demographic shift, particularly at its western end.

Mount Scott

The Mount Scott neighborhood to the south centers on the tree island of Mount Scott Park, a shady park with a popular community center (which contains both a mini–roller rink and an awesome indoor pool complex, complete with an artificial “river”). The homes around the park are generally modest, but many have been fixed up nicely. (Note that not only is the Mount Scott neighborhood essentially flat, it is nowhere near Mount Scott itself. That prominent butte is in Clackamas County, near Clackamas Town Center.)

Brentwood-Darlington

Hard against the Clackamas County line, the Brentwood-Darlington neighborhood has a relatively high rate of both property and violent crime. On the plus side, it vies for the title of the city’s most affordable neighborhood, at least west of Interstate 205. Both the extreme western portion and extreme eastern portion of the neighborhood have access to the Springwater Trail Corridor, a multi-use bike path that runs from the Willamette River east to Gresham and Boring.

Bus service along the main east-west streets is good throughout these neighborhoods; the only north-south bus lines run along 82nd Avenue and 60th Avenue. MAX light-rail service runs along Interstate 205, not far to the east of 82nd.

ZIP Codes
97202, 97206, 97213, 97214, 97215, 97232
Post Offices
Brooklyn Post Office, 1410 SE Powell Blvd; Creston Post Office, 5010 SE Foster Rd; East Portland Post Office, 1020 SE 7th Ave; Sellwood Post Office, 6723 SE 16th Ave
Police Station
Portland Police Bureau, Central Precinct (areas west of 39th/César Chávez), 1111 SW 2nd Ave, 503-823-3333 (non-emergency); East Precinct (areas east of 39th/César Chávez), 737 SE 106th Ave, 503-823-4800 (non-emergency)
Emergency Hospitals
Adventist Medical Center, 10123 SE Market St, 503-257-2500, adventisthealthnw.com; OHSU Hospital, 3181 SW Sam Jackson Park Rd, 503-494-8311, ohsu.edu/xd/health/; Providence Milwaukie Hospital, 10150 SE 32nd Ave, Milwaukie, 503-513-8300, providence.org; Providence Portland Medical Center, 4805 NE Glisan St, 503-215-1111, providence.org
Libraries
Belmont Library, 1038 SE César E Chávez Blvd, 503-988-5382; Holgate Library, 7905 SE Holgate Blvd, 503-988-5389; Sellwood-Moreland Library, 7860 SE 13th Ave, 503-988-5398; Woodstock Library, 6008 SE 49th Ave, 503-988-5399
Parks
Major parks include Mount Tabor Park, Laurelhurst Park, Westmoreland Park, Creston Park, Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge, Woodstock Park, and Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden; portlandparks.org
Community Publications
Southeast Examiner, southeastexaminer.com; The Bee, thebeenews.com
Public Transportation
TriMet, 503-238-RIDE, trimet.org; comprehensive bus service, including frequent service routes, west of about 50th Avenue, with service on main routes east of 50th Avenue. Streetcar service along MLK Jr Blvd and Grand Avenue. Light rail runs along Interstate 84 and Interstate 205, and (beginning late 2015) along McLoughlin Blvd to Milwaukie.

North Portland

Boundaries: North: Columbia River; West: Willamette River; South: Willamette River; East: North Williams Avenue

Until relatively recently, Portland’s “fifth quadrant”—the peninsula between the Willamette and Columbia rivers, where a wide deviation in the Willamette’s course makes mincemeat of the city’s Burnside-and-river-oriented directional system—was typically overlooked or avoided by newcomers and many long-time Portlanders alike. Crime rates in much of the area were sky-high, schools were perceived as appalling, and the urban fabric was in a general state of decay. While it’s not exactly yuppie central—and most North Portlanders are fine with that—the district has undergone dramatic changes in the last five years. Buoyed in part by a new light rail line along Interstate Avenue, in part by soaring home prices in more traditionally fashionable parts of the city, and in part by urban renewal districts and investment incentives, North Portland experienced some of the city’s fastest real estate appreciation over the last decade. New residents moved in with paint pails and big plans, and flippers did quick cosmetic makeovers, giving new life to formerly neglected homes. At the same time, many individual homes—and entire swaths of some neighborhoods—still await revitalization.

Of course, one person’s revitalization is another person’s gentrification, and not everyone in North Portland (or NoPo, as some boosters somewhat gratingly call it) welcomes the change. Rising housing prices have forced or enticed many long-time residents to move away, and some businesses are perceived as catering more to affluent new residents and visitors from other parts of the city than to actual local needs. Moreover, because many of the area’s new residents are childless, some of the area’s public schools suffer from declining enrollments and a continuing need for improvement. Still, the influx of newcomers has also brought (or coincided with) some positive changes, like a declining crime rate. In fact, North Portland no longer has any true no-go neighborhoods, although some streets are nicer than others and old perceptions die hard, especially in the suburbs. In sum, North Portland might be a great choice for people who are looking for relatively inexpensive housing in a newly “hot” or transitioning neighborhood, and who are willing to live with a bit of residual grittiness in exchange.

Boise-Eliot, the North Mississippi District, King, and Overlook

Neighborhood Associations: Boise, Eliot, King (partial), Overlook

The Boise and Eliot neighborhoods, just east of Interstate 5 and the Willamette River in close-in North Portland, have undergone perhaps the swiftest and most dramatic renaissance of any neighborhood in the city. Once part of the independent city of Albina, these neighborhoods were originally built as middle-class housing for northern European immigrants. After the Vanport flood of 1948, which wiped out a World War II–era public housing project near the Columbia River, many former Vanport residents, mostly African-Americans, were relocated to Albina. (At that time, housing covenants and discriminatory real estate practices effectively barred African-Americans from most other parts of the city.) The neighborhood was almost entirely African-American by the 1960s.

Boise-Eliot

Interstate 5 was plowed through the heart of Albina, and the community began a long decline.

Boise

Beginning in the 1990s, a few people from other parts of the city recognized what they considered the untapped potential of the then blighted, high-crime Boise and Eliot neighborhoods—a close-in location, a stock of classic old homes, and a commercial district (albeit one that was largely boarded up). Some started to buy and renovate homes and businesses. This influx has continued and accelerated, and today these neighborhoods are very much desegregated. Indeed, Boise-Eliot (as the two neighborhoods are collectively called) is probably the most racially diverse neighborhood in the state. (The neighborhoods extend into Northeast Portland, but the character of the neighborhood does not change meaningfully from one quadrant to the other.)

North Mississippi Avenue

North Mississippi Avenue, in the Boise neighborhood, is ground zero in the revitalization/gentrification of North Portland. The bustling part of the street is just a few blocks long, running roughly from Fremont Street to Skidmore Street. In less than a decade, and really only in the last five years, the street has gathered an assortment of some of the city’s most popular eateries (and beverageries) and a collection of shops that is, to put it mildly, eclectic: retail establishments include a lightbulb store (Sunlan, sunlanlighting.com), a small nursery and urban chicken farmer supply store (Pistils, pistilsnursery.com), and The Meadow (atthemeadow.com), which purveys chocolate, wine, flowers, and gourmet finishing salt varieties from around the world. The Rebuilding Center (rebuildingcenter.org), a popular source of recycled building materials and fixtures, dominates the south end of the strip.

North Mississippi Avenue

North Mississippi’s trendiness has spilled over onto other nearby Boise streets—North Williams Avenue now boasts hip restaurants like Lincoln (lincolnpdx.com) and the popular Fifth Quadrant pub, and a Grand Central Bakery location opened on Fremont—but not every commercial building is hipster fodder. The area is still full of mysterious old buildings with cracked, weedy parking lots.

North Mississippi Avenue
Eliot

Eliot neighborhood, to the south of Boise, is not yet as trendy as Boise, but it is getting there. Toro Bravo (torobravopdx.com) on Northeast Russell draws tapas hunters from across the city, and the nearby Wonder Ballroom features frequent live performances by local and nationally known acts. The southern portion of Eliot, along Interstate Avenue between Interstate 5 and the river, is primarily commercial and light industrial, but some trendy spots have opened here, too, such as Swedish restaurant Broder Nord (broderpdx.com).

King

The adjacent King neighborhood is technically in Northeast Portland, and much of it is generally considered part of the Alberta Arts area, but in terms of demographics, housing stock, and stage of development, the western part of King is much more akin to Boise-Eliot. King straddles, and is named for, Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, which, like North Missisippi, has undergone a significant transformation over the last few years. While MLK is a busier street, and could never become compact and quaint, it has attracted significant redevelopment capital, and hip new restaurants and cafés and creative businesses now stand alongside the tatty convenience stores and gas stations.

King

The Boise-Eliot and King neighborhood housing stock is as diverse as its commercial establishments, and includes everything from foursquares, Craftsman bungalows, tiny cottages, and a few old Victorians to converted churches, mixed-use buildings, apartments, and brand-new blocks of modernist condos on Mississippi Avenue itself. These neighborhoods are notable for relying less on taupe as part of an exterior color scheme than any other part of the city; homeowners are not afraid of bold colors or exuberant (but not necessarily weedy) gardens. Not every house has been redone, and there are still plenty of long-time residents living in dated but well-kept homes (along with some dated and dilapidated homes), but the gentrification juggernaut has resulted in a wave of renovation and new construction in the area. Many residents, both old and new, have already cashed out and moved on. The new denizens of the North Mississippi Avenue district fall predominantly into the “youthful hipster” or “creative class” demographics. The area has so far failed to attract a critical mass of new families, in part because some people consider the schools to be less desirable than those in some other parts of the city. This situation is slowly changing, however, and the neighborhoods are hardly devoid of children.

In terms of home prices, Boise has become shockingly expensive, at least in light of its relatively recent history, and is comparable to or even more expensive than some long-established desirable neighborhoods such as Sellwood. Rents are slightly more manageable. Prices in Eliot and King, which have not been so thoroughly gentrified, are lower but still exceed the city average.

Overlook

On the west side of Interstate 5, the Overlook neighborhood owes its name to its position atop Swan Island Bluff “overlooking” the port and the Willamette River. This area of stately street trees and gracious Craftsman bungalows, Old Portlands, and English Tudors became a hot real estate market when Adidas America opened its headquarters, Adidas Village, here in 2002. The opening of the Interstate MAX line, which runs through Overlook’s eastern end, further primed the pump, and home prices in the neighborhood nearly doubled in the succeeding five years. Prices fell significantly here during the housing bust, and took much longer to recover here than in many other neighborhoods, so the median home price is not significantly higher than the citywide median. Overlook Park, at the edge of the bluff, is a 12-acre greenspace with a great view of the river and port, the Fremont Bridge, downtown Portland, and the West Hills. The homes along the lip of the bluff to the northwest share this view. The nearby Tudor-style Overlook House, built in 1927, today serves as a community center. The huge Swan Island industrial and port complex lies within Overlook’s boundaries; most of the remainder of the neighborhood is residential, with commercial zones along Killingsworth Street and North Interstate Avenue. Some trendy new businesses have opened their doors, but older establishments, like The Palms Motor Hotel and the tiki-from-before-tiki-became-cool-again Alibi Restaurant, are still going strong. A century ago, this area was once the center of Portland’s Polish community, and St. Stanislaus Polish Catholic Church on Interstate holds a Polish festival each September.

Overlook

The true bargains in Overlook are gone, but the neighborhood still has some affordable fixers. Less than half of residents own their homes, so a fair number of rental properties are available if you’re interested in metaphorically dipping your toes in the neighborhood water. The neighborhood attracts a mix of young singles, straight, gay, and lesbian couples, families, and professionals who work at Adidas.

Both Overlook and the Boise-Eliot neighborhood are extremely well-connected to the area’s highway and transit system. Downtown Portland is only a short light-rail ride away on the Interstate MAX line; although the line does not run through Boise-Eliot, it is accessible from that neighborhood by a short walk over Interstate 5 on the Failing Pedestrian Bridge (which, despite the ominous name, is actually quite sturdy). These neighborhoods are generally bike friendly, and bike commuting downtown is eminently doable. The neighborhoods are very close to the Fremont Bridge on- and off-ramps and to Interstate 5, as well as to alternate north-south routes like Vancouver Avenue and North Interstate Avenue. The downside to this easy highway access is high levels of pollutants from auto exhaust; some studies have shown that residents of neighborhoods within a quarter-mile or so of Interstate 5, especially east (generally downwind) of the freeway, have higher rates of respiratory disease than people who live farther away from major highways.

Arbor Lodge and Kenton

Neighborhood Associations: Arbor Lodge, Kenton

The hits of the North Portland renaissance just keep on coming, and Arbor Lodge and Kenton are the latest neighborhoods to make it into the charts. These neighborhoods together occupy a large chunk of North Portland west of Interstate 5. Each straddles North Interstate Avenue and the MAX Yellow Line, which has helped increase the desirability of nearby homes (particularly to the west, farther from the freeway) and has spurred redevelopment up and down Interstate.

Arbor Lodge

Arbor Lodge, which sounds quainter than it is, lies just north of Overlook, and shares a number of affinities with that neighborhood. Like Overlook, the western edge of Arbor Lodge lies along the Swan Island bluff, and homes along Willamette Boulevard have great downtown and Port of Portland views. Many of the streets in this part of the neighborhood have mature street trees and a few somewhat grand homes. The northern and eastern parts of Arbor Lodge have a mix of typically modestly sized Cape Cods and bungalows, many of which have been fixed up nicely. The ongoing redevelopment of Interstate Avenue has brought in new apartments, coffeehouses, restaurants, and other accouterments of the urban lifestyle, and is a relatively short bike ride or MAX ride from downtown Portland. Also, rents and home prices tend to be slightly lower than in comparable neighborhoods of Southeast Portland, and this combination of factors has rendered this part of Arbor Lodge attractive to younger newcomers. Interstate Avenue also features a New Seasons supermarket, which along with the opening of the MAX line, is credited with sparking the renaissance of Arbor Lodge, and a giant new two-story Fred Meyer supermarket, which was a result of that renaissance. Arbor Lodge has started to attract married couples and young families, despite the less-than-ideal schools that serve the neighborhood; because prices here are more or less in line with the citywide median, given the amenities available in the area it can be an appealing place to buy a home when compared with other more expensive close-in neighborhoods. Some two-thirds of residents are homeowners.

Arbor Lodge
Kenton

Across rapidly evolving Lombard Street to the north, the Kenton neighborhood is best known for its kitschy giant statue of Paul Bunyan, which power-logged its way onto the National Register of Historic Places in early 2009, and as the home turf of embattled former mayor Sam Adams. The neighborhood began as a company town for a meatpacking plant—cattle were once driven along North Denver Avenue—but, as they say, times have changed. Instead of cattle, North Denver now hosts lowing herds of pubgoers and patrons of new restaurants like Cup & Saucer Café and Posies Café. Although the neighborhood is clearly on the upswing, and some boosters predict Kenton will be “the next Mississippi” (a reference to the avenue, not the state), those boosters have been saying that for years; suffice to say Kenton has not yet been gentrified to the same extent. North Denver still has vacant storefronts, and Paul Bunyan appears to be ogling the strip club just across the MAX tracks. This residual grittiness/authenticity (along with the resulting more affordable home prices, well below the city median) is part of Kenyon’s attraction to some people.

Kenton

The main residential area centers on popular Kenton Park, which has a playground, sports fields, a wading pool, and vast expanses of grass. A few of the houses facing the park are quite imposing, but the bulk of the houses in the neighborhood, given its origin, are not especially grand. As in Arbor Lodge, there are plenty of bungalows, Cape Cods, and similar older-style houses; many homes have been spruced up in the last few years, while others nearby slowly molder. A few new townhomes have been built near the MAX station, and other new development is occurring along North Interstate. The trip to downtown Portland can take as little as 10 minutes by car or 20 minutes by MAX; bus lines run along the major streets, but typically connect with MAX rather than running all the way downtown.

St. Johns and University Park

Neighborhood Associations: Cathedral Park, St. Johns, University Park
St. Johns

St. Johns, the old neighborhood out near the end of the North Portland peninsula, has been the next big thing for years. In the meantime, other next big things—the Northeast Alberta and North Mississippi neighborhoods, for example—have taken off, while St. Johns has languished. But while St. Johns—named after James John, a settler whose morals were reputedly above reproach (or who was a crazy hermit, depending on what story you believe)—may not be red-hot, it’s at least lukewarm. The area was a separately incorporated city from 1903 until 1915, when Portland annexed it, and the bones of its historic center remain, including the old City Hall. Given its relative proximity to downtown Portland (about 15 to 20 minutes away, traffic permitting), its old-fashioned, low-key “downtown,” its comparatively affordable housing stock, and a distinctive icon in the form of the St. Johns Bridge (which, suspended between two Gothic-style towers, soars gracefully across the Willamette River here), it’s hard to imagine that St. Johns could have remained off the radar indefinitely.

St. Johns Bridge

In fact, people here will tell you that St. Johns was never undiscovered; the current residents “discovered” it a long time ago. They will likely extol the community spirit of this traditionally working-class neighborhood and its locally owned businesses, and you may come away with the feeling that, if becoming the next “in” neighborhood means undergoing an influx of wisecracking hipsters, locals want none of it. That’s not to say that St. Johns is static: portents of change are already clearly visible in the main business district, which centers on North Lombard Street at Philadelphia Avenue. Established hangouts like Tulip Pastry Shop, with its six-decade-old doughnut recipe—the actual doughnuts are considerably fresher—rub facades with such new businesses as vegan-focused Proper Eats Market and Café. Or consider the juxtaposition on the north side of Lombard of Wayne’s Barber Shop, which appears not to have changed in decades, with the The Olive & Vine, a purveyor of olive oils, gourmet sea salts, and other specialty foods, right next door. Across Lombard, the St. Johns Historic Twin Cinema and Pub (stjohnscinema.com) shows first-run movies at discount prices; the McMenamins St. Johns Theater and Pub a couple of short blocks away shows second-run movies at even cheaper prices. Mixed in with the seedy bars and old-time diners is Starbucks, the ultimate harbinger of shifts in neighborhood demographics.

However, these changes in demographics—from straight-up blue collar to a somewhat more diverse set of residents, including some young singles, older professionals, and families from out-of-state—that have driven the changes in the business mix have not resulted in whole-scale gentrification. Most newcomers to St. Johns seem to select the neighborhood for its actual characteristics, not its theoretical ones. Perhaps because of St. Johns’ prior independent existence, innovations in the neighborhood seem to come from bottom-up effort rather than outside intervention. For example, two unique services have cropped up in the basement of the Red Sea Church on Lombard: the North Portland Preserve and Serve Library (preserveandserve.org) lends out kitchen equipment and utensils for home canning purposes, while Swap-n-Play Community Sharing (swapnplay.org) is an indoor/outdoor community playspace and used clothing/toys/household goods exchange depot (on the honor system).

St. Johns

Despite the ubiquitous signs of change and a can-do community spirit, St. Johns is not for everyone. The neighborhood is still a bit rough around the edges, and the crime rate remains relatively (although not dauntingly) high. Away from the St. Johns downtown area, Lombard Street has long been a grim, unwelcoming thoroughfare lined with check cashing establishments, smoky bars, fast food restaurants, convenience stores, and a few coffee shops, although this landscape, too, is changing. The neighborhood is virtually surrounded by industrial facilities and warehouses: this part of the lower Willamette has been a manufacturing and maritime center for close to a century, and St. Johns really boomed during the shipbuilding frenzy of the Second World War. At the same time, a fair number of natural areas are within or close to the neighborhood: woodsy Pier Park is on the northern fringes, Smith and Bybee Lakes (and the Columbia Slough, which connects them) form an important wetland, and Forest Park lies just across the St. Johns Bridge. From Kelley Point Park, at the very tip of the peninsula, you can ponder the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia Rivers.

Cathedral Park

In keeping with the neighborhood’s working class roots, most houses are fairly modest structures; ranches, Cape Cods, and small cottages predominate, with a few old bungalows, foursquares, or Victorians thrown into the mix. There are also some apartment buildings, both old and new, including a few 1960s-era towers near the river, and quite a bit of infill has occurred, including some modern townhome developments. In short, the housing mix is varied—much more so than in most Portland neighborhoods—but the look and feel vary substantially from street to street. The median home price here is well below the citywide median, and St. Johns is perhaps the last “distinctive” old neighborhood in Portland that remains somewhat affordable. The apartment-heavy Cathedral Park neighborhood, named for the city park on the river under the cathedral-like eastern pier of the St. Johns Bridge, has higher home prices than St. Johns proper. Cathedral Park is technically a separate neighborhood but is functionally part of St. Johns.

University Park

The same cannot be said for University Park, a more traditionally genteel neighborhood that sits atop the bluff near the University of Portland. The neighborhood’s name actually predates the current university—a Methodist institution called Portland University was established here in 1891, and the sale of neighborhood lots was intended to provide funds for the university’s operation and endowment. Streets were platted and named after colleges and universities, famous educators, and various Methodist worthies. The promoters of the subdivision were overzealous in some respects, dubiously promising that the “proximity of a large student body has a tendency to elevate the tone of all things.” In other respects, their claims were underwhelming: the formal prospectus contained the helpful factoid that “University Park is entirely free from malaria.”

University Park

While University Park is still free of malaria, an economic panic caused the subdivision scheme to founder, and the university closed. In 1901, the abandoned university reopened as a Catholic institution, which it remains to this day, and with better economic times the area around the campus gradually developed. As in St. Johns, housing styles here are a mix of many styles: Cape Cods, bungalows, ranch houses, small cottages, and a few Victorians. Homes along Willamette Boulevard have sweeping views over the Willamette toward downtown Portland and the West Hills. (The south side of Willamette Boulevard is parkland; only the north side is developed, so houses along Willamette do not perch on the edge of the bluff.) Average prices here are at least 50 percent higher than in St. Johns.

The streets in University Park run northeast-southwest and northwest-southeast, rather than north-south and east-west as in most of the city; this arrangement (which is also found in St. Johns) was supposed to ensure that houses catch the maximum amount of sunlight. Despite the proximity of the University of Portland, there are few apartments, and essentially no commercial district except for the relatively unappealing stretch of Lombard Street that forms the neighborhood’s northern border. Columbia Park, on the neighborhood’s eastern edge, is walking distance from most homes. Astor Elementary School, which serves University Park, is considered the best elementary school in North Portland, and one of the best in the city. The crime rate in University Park is lower than in other parts of North Portland.

Several TriMet bus lines serve St. Johns and University Park, but many trips involve long detours or transfers to the Yellow Line MAX, which does not serve the immediate area. The neighborhoods are a relatively short drive to downtown Portland, and some residents commute to Washington County via the St. Johns Bridge and Germantown Road or Cornelius Pass Road.

Outer North Portland Neighborhoods

Neighborhood Associations: Bridgeton, Hayden Island, Humboldt, Piedmont, Portsmouth
Piedmont, and Humboldt

The outer neighborhoods of North Portland are not as well known as close-in hotspots like North Mississippi, but many of them are changing just as rapidly. East of Interstate 5, the century-old foursquares and bungalows in the multicultural Piedmont and Humboldt neighborhoods are rapidly becoming popular. Humboldt basks in the reflected radiance of North Mississippi hipness (only a short walk or bike ride away to the south), but it has started to develop some neighborhood cachet of its own. Portland Community College’s Cascade Campus is within Humboldt. Home prices here are nearly as high as in the Boise neighborhood, although rents tend to be lower. The next neighborhood to the north, Piedmont, is not as hip, and is accordingly somewhat less expensive. The neighborhood jewel of Piedmont is Peninsula Park, with a century-old rose garden, a swimming pool, and a community center. A few years ago, Piedmont would have attracted only urban pioneers, but the current of change keeps flowing northward, and the area is no longer a housing frontier.

Portsmouth

Across Interstate 5 to the west, beyond Arbor Lodge and north of University Park, the working-class Portsmouth neighborhood includes New Columbia (newcolumbia.org), an 82-acre subsidized mixed-income housing development that is a showcase of environmentally sustainable design (and which replaced a notoriously crime- and gang-ridden old-style housing project).

Bridgeton, and Hayden Island

North of the Columbia Slough, in the Delta Park area, most land is either used for commercial purposes or is parkland of some kind (if you define parkland broadly to include uses like golf courses, the Portland Meadows horse racing track, and Portland International Raceway). This area was the site of the community of Vanport, the largest public housing project in the United States, which was washed away in a devastating 1948 flood. Understandably, many people have since been reluctant to build here, but the Bridgeton neighborhood has housing right along the shore of the Columbia River, including some pricey new condominiums overlooking the water. Bridgeton also includes a large community of houseboats and live-aboard boats, a feature that Hayden Island—an actual island, in the Oregon portion of the Columbia River—shares. Hayden Island is best known as the site of a mall that attracts Washingtonians for tax-free shopping sprees and a nearby mobile home park, but east of Interstate 5 the island has a strong nautical character, with an abundance of docks and moorages, as well as some new, expensive condominiums, along Tomahawk Island Drive.

ZIP Codes
97203, 97217, 97227
Post Offices
Kenton Post Office, 2130 N Kilpatrick St; Piedmont Post Office, 630 NE Killingsworth St; St. Johns Post Office, 8420 N Ivanhoe St
Police Stations
Portland Police Bureau, North Precinct, 449 NE Emerson St, 503-823-5700 (non-emergency)
Emergency Hospital
Legacy Emanuel Medical Center, 2801 N Gantenbein Ave, 503-413-2200, legacyhealth.org
Libraries
North Portland Library, 512 N Killingsworth St, 503-988-5394; St. Johns Library, 7510 N Charleston Ave, 503-988-5397
Parks
Major parks include Pier Park, Cathedral Park, Columbia Park, Peninsula Park, and Overlook Park; portlandparks.org
Community Publications
St. Johns Review (stjohnsreview.com)
Public Transportation
TriMet, 503-238-RIDE, trimet.org; bus service along major thoroughfares, and MAX service along Interstate Avenue line to downtown Portland

Outer East Portland

Neighborhood Associations: Argay, Centennial, Glenfair, Hazelwood, Lents, Mill Park, Parkrose, Parkrose Heights, Pleasant Valley, Powellhurst-Gilbert, Russell, Wilkes, Woodland Park, plus Maywood Park (independently incorporated)

Outer East Portland, or even just East Portland, is not an official designation. Still, the vast swath of the Portland grid that lies east of 82nd Avenue and especially east of Interstate 205 is palpably different from the rest of the city. It has its own school districts, its own neighborhood centers, its own concerns, and very different demographics. It is generally more socially and politically conservative, and also more ethnically and racially diverse, than other parts of Portland. It offers some of the lowest housing prices in the city; at the same time, a few neighborhoods have some of Portland’s highest crime rates, while others are fairly peaceful, essentially suburban enclaves.

These neighborhoods were mostly rural until well into the 20th century; after the Second World War, they slowly filled up with middle-class homes, usually on large lots. Even after the area was mostly built-up, it remained unincorporated. Bit by bit, Portland has gradually annexed much of what used to be known as Mid-County (and Gresham annexed the rest from the opposite direction), but many residents feel neglected by the city. They point to the city’s investment in places like the Pearl District and South Waterfront, and contrast those areas with the unpaved streets of their own neighborhoods.

Despite the area’s underdeveloped infrastructure, much of the area is experiencing heavy infill development, in some cases on “flag lots”—lots behind an existing residence that are linked to the street by a skinny “panhandle” (or flagpole) of property, which usually has a driveway. In some areas, especially near the Eastside MAX line, large apartment buildings and some mixed-use developments have been built. This tide of development is dramatically changing the character and the face of East Portland. The human faces of East Portland are changing, too. Many neighborhoods have experienced an influx of recent immigrants from East Asia, Russia and Ukraine, and Latin America.

Argay, Wilkes, Russell, Parkrose, Parkrose Heights, and Woodland Park

The neighborhoods north of Halsey Street tend to feature ranch homes, split levels, contemporaries, and other standard postwar styles. Some neighborhoods, like Argay, Wilkes, and Russell, have postwar homes on the sort of curving streets and culs-de-sac that are common in suburban communities but are rare on the Eastside. The northern parts of the first two of these neighborhoods are largely devoted to commercial and light industrial uses. Parkrose has a larger number of older homes, mixed with a host of businesses that are more or less associated with the proximity of the airport. South of Interstate 84, slightly more affluent Parkrose Heights and Woodland Park have more older homes in a variety of styles—Cape Cods, bungalows, English-style cottages, and the like—along with ranches. The homes on the bluff (the “heights” that give the neighborhood its name) just south of the freeway have northward views of the Columbia River and the Washington Cascades. Some of the areas closest to the airport are plagued by aircraft noise. If the sound of jet engines bothers you, be sure to consult a map of flight paths (or just stand around outdoors and listen for airplanes) before committing to a house here. (On the plus side, Parkrose has a station on the Airport MAX line.)

Maywood Park

Tucked in between Parkrose and Interstate 205, tiny Maywood Park (cityofmaywoodpark.com), with only 750 residents, is an independent city. Completely surrounded by (and functionally a part of) Northeast Portland, Maywood Park was incorporated in 1967 in an ultimately futile attempt to prevent Interstate 205 from being routed through the community. Most of the homes date to the late 1930s, and two-story cottages predominate. The neighborhood has an unusual abundance of mature trees, and although there are few sidewalks the streets are wide and traffic is light. Potential annexation to Portland is a perennial political issue here.

Hazelwood, Glenfair, Centennial, Mill Park, and Powellhurst-Gilbert

The neighborhoods south of Halsey are generally, if perhaps unfairly, considered less desirable. The central neighborhoods—Hazelwood, Glenfair, Centennial, and Mill Park—have some of the city’s highest rates of violent crime. They are by no means no-go areas, however, and random violence is uncommon. Many blocks are quiet, respectable streets lined with ordinary-looking houses; apartment complexes border the main streets. These neighborhoods also offer access to the Eastside MAX line between Portland and Gresham, and several transit-oriented developments have sprung up along Burnside Street (along which the light rail trains run). Further south, Powellhurst-Gilbert also has above-average crime rates, but is nonetheless experiencing plenty of development, both infill and subdivisions of undeveloped land. This neighborhood, along with Hazelwood, Glenfair, Centennial, and Lents (see below), has the lowest median home prices in the city; they are among the few parts of Portland where it is still possible to buy a single-family home for under $150,000.

Lents

The Lents neighborhood was once notorious for poverty and high crime rates. While the neighborhood is not exactly thriving—it has no supermarket, and many neighborhood streets are unpaved—it has been designated an urban renewal zone and city funds have been allocated for redevelopment. In a hopeful sign, Lents has a new farmers’ market that operates on Sundays from June through mid-October. The MAX Green Line from Gateway Transit Center south to Clackamas Town Center passes through Lents.

Pleasant Valley

In Portland’s southeasternmost corner, the Pleasant Valley neighborhood wraps around the base of Powell Butte, a prominent volcanic butte now protected as a nature park. Much of the neighborhood feels surprisingly rural, with horses grazing in pastures in some areas. This area also offers new homes in several developments. In addition to Powell Butte, the neighborhood is home to several other parks and natural areas, including Leach Botanical Garden (leachgarden.org). The Springwater Corridor, a bike and pedestrian trail that runs between downtown Portland and east Multnomah County, passes through both Lents and Pleasant Valley.

MAX lines along Burnside and Interstate 205 are a boon to transit users in outer East Portland. Bus transit is only available on the main east-west streets, with the exception of a north-south line along busy 122nd Avenue. Several different school districts serve the area: rapidly growing David Douglas School District (ddouglas.k12.or.us) serves the largest portion of outer Southeast, while Parkrose School District (parkrose.k12.or.us) covers Parkrose and the adjacent neighborhoods, Reynolds School District (reynolds.k12.or.us) serves part of outer Northeast Portland, and Centennial and the surrounding neighborhoods are part of Centennial School District (centennial.k12.or.us).

ZIP Codes
97216, 97220, 97230, 97233, 97236, 97266
Post Offices
Airport Mail Facility, 7460 NE Airport Way; Lents Post Office, 3850 SE 82nd Ave; Midway Post Office, 400 SE 103rd Ave; Parkrose Post Office, 4048 NE 122nd Ave
Police Station
Portland Police Bureau, East Precinct, 737 SE 106th Ave, 503-823-4800 (non-emergency); North Precinct (Parkrose, Argay, Wilkes), 449 NE Emerson St, 503-823-5700 (non-emergency)
Emergency Hospitals
Adventist Medical Center, 10123 SE Market St, 503-257-2500, adventisthealthnw.com; Kaiser Permanente Sunnyside Medical Center, 10180 SE Sunnyside Rd, Clackamas, 503-652-2880, kp.org
Libraries
Midland Library, 805 SE 122nd Ave, 503-988-5392; Rockwood Library, 17917 SE Stark St, 503-988-5396
Parks
Major parks include Powell Butte Nature Park, Beggars-tick Wildlife Park, Leach Botanical Garden, and Springwater Corridor Trail; portlandparks.org
Community Publications
Mid-County Memo, midcountymemo.com
Public Transportation
TriMet, 503-238-RIDE, trimet.org; bus lines on major east-west routes, and north-south on 122nd Ave. Eastside MAX on Burnside, Airport MAX service to Parkrose along Interstate 205; Green Line MAX service from Gateway to Clackamas Town Center along Interstate 205

Surrounding Communities

Greater Portland Map

Greater Portland Map

Washington County

Washington County is simultaneously the epicenter of the Portland area’s high-tech boom, a region of working farms and timberland, and a major residential area with a population in excess of half a million. The county is not without its problems; it has struggled to manage its rapid growth, and certain areas are notorious for traffic congestion, strip-mall sprawl, and other ills and inconveniences. Still, the region’s dynamic economy, natural beauty, and high level of amenities continue to attract newcomers who wish to settle in a suburban location with a relatively high quality of life, and for several years Washington County has been the fastest-growing county in the state.

Beaverton and Surrounding Areas

Portlanders have traditionally regarded Beaverton and the surrounding areas as the epitome of suburbia. While that stereotype has some truth—the area is decidedly suburban, with the good and bad aspects the term implies—it is becoming less accurate over time, and already by some measures is plain wrong. For example, Beaverton has a higher population density than Portland, and the Westside light rail line brings commuters from Beaverton to downtown Portland in less time than it takes some people to drive in from outlying Portland neighborhoods.

Beaverton is the center of gravity for eastern Washington County, but tens of thousands of people live in areas that are immediately adjacent to, but not formally a part of, the city. Washington County is encouraging an eventual consolidation of services, and Beaverton, which has been on an annexation binge in recent years, is likely to swallow up many of the remaining unincorporated areas around it over the next 10 to 20 years. Beaverton’s annexation plans are not without controversy—Nike, in particular, has fought the city’s attempted annexation of its headquarters, in large part because the city’s property taxes are higher than the county’s—but there is an air of inevitability about them.

Downtown Beaverton
Beaverton

Boundaries: North: West Haven, Cedar Mill, Bethany, Oak Hills (unincorporated Washington County); West: Aloha (unincorporated Washington County); South: Tigard; unincorporated Washington County; East: Portland; West Slope, Raleigh Hills, Garden Home (unincorporated Washington County); Area: 19.6 square miles; Population: 91,935

Well into the 20th century, Beaverton was a small town that functioned primarily as a service center for the surrounding farms, which succeeded the rich beaver dam meadows that gave the city its name. The region’s produce traveled to market in Portland, seven miles away, at first over a plank road through the West Hills where Canyon Road and the Sunset Highway now run, and later by train or truck. During the suburban boom following the Second World War, Beaverton became primarily a residential community, then further evolved into a center for new kinds of commerce, becoming the headquarters for multinational companies like Tektronix and Nike. (The latter company is actually located in unincorporated Washington County, literally across the street from, and essentially surrounded by, Beaverton.) New residents and new companies continued to pour in during the 1980s and 1990s, and the city is essentially fully built-out. Nonetheless, the city has continued to increase in population, both through organic growth and an aggressive annexation policy. Beaverton is already Oregon’s sixth largest city (after Portland, Salem, Eugene, Gresham, and Hillsboro), and it is on track to become the second-largest city in the state within a decade or so.

Beaverton

Beaverton does not have a central business district per se; rather, outside the core residential areas, the whole city is a business district, with strip malls and office parks lining most of the main roads. That said, the traditional commercial center of gravity is the area around the tiny, hard-to-spot historic downtown, sometimes referred to as Old Town Beaverton, near the intersection of Southwest Hall Boulevard and Highway 10 (Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway/Farmington Road). This area includes a beautiful new public library, a swim center, a small park, and a number of small businesses like Beaverton Bakery (beavertonbakery.com); on Wednesdays and Saturdays during the summer the neighborhood hosts a wildly popular farmers’ market (beavertonfarmersmarket.com) that bills itself as the largest agricultural-only farmers’ market in Oregon. Beyond this small node, central Beaverton is a zone of supermarkets, not-so-super markets, big box stores, and chain restaurants. To the north along Cedar Hills Boulevard, the once nearly moribund Beaverton Mall has become the upscale Cedar Hills Crossing. The city has tried, only semi-successfully, to promote high-density, mixed-use developments near light rail stations; along with some old prewar homes and low-rise postwar apartment buildings that hang on in the area of the original town center, these transit-oriented developments are essentially the only residential options in the center of Beaverton.

Away from the sprawling center and the congested main roads, however, Beaverton wears a different face. The city is more ethnically and racially diverse than Portland, and has a higher population density but a lower crime rate; with 13 different neighborhood associations, there is almost literally something here for everyone. Home prices (and rents) within the city vary widely by neighborhood, but the citywide median price is not far off of the metro area average. Homes here tend to be pricier than in neighboring Tigard and Hillsboro, but less expensive than in Tualatin or Lake Oswego.

Beaverton

Much of the city’s housing is new, but the ages of individual developments vary widely. Notably, roughly half the city’s housing units are detached single-family homes; the other half are townhomes, apartments, and condominiums, most of which are relatively new. In keeping with this housing mix, the population is evenly split between renters and homeowners. Many Beaverton apartment complexes are massive mini-villages, with recreation centers, swimming pools, walking trails, and other amenities; these complexes almost always have vacancies, and are common places for newcomers to settle initially.

While every neighborhood in Beaverton has potential advantages, newcomers tend to land in one of a few areas. Hyland Hills, Ridgeview Heights, and other established subdivisions south and southwest of central Beaverton offer ranch, contemporary, split-level, and other postwar-era single-family homes with yards; most of these developments have homeowner associations, and some homes have distant views of Mount Hood. There are also a few mid-century modern “Rummer” homes in this area, as well as some newer homes on previously unbuilt parcels on the neighborhood fringes. Hyland Forest Park, in the middle of Hyland Hills, is a surprisingly wild, wooded park. Just to the west, Sexton Mountain in western Beaverton is a vortex of culs-de-sac, with mostly newer (1980s–1990s) homes on large lots. Many of these houses offer expansive views to the north and east, but despite the name not every house in this neighborhood is actually on the slopes of Sexton Mountain. Cooper Mountain, in the unincorporated area west of Sexton Mountain, has some very large, very expensive custom homes with views over the whole of the Tualatin Valley. Cooper Mountain is also home to a new, 231-acre nature park.

Beaverton

Back inside city limits, Southwest Beaverton has a sea of cookie-cutter newer homes, mostly multi-story structures on small lots along with some townhomes; the Murray Hill neighborhood in this area, which flanks Scholls Ferry Road, is a mix of newish single-family home developments, large apartment complexes, and commercial areas. These neighborhoods abut the urban growth boundary to the southwest, and the landscape changes from dense subdivisions to farmland quite abruptly.

Cedar Hills

The Greenway neighborhood west of Highway 217 is an established area of single-family homes and apartment complexes along the Fanno Creek Greenway; the neighborhood has a recreation center and offers quick access to the Washington Square area. Across town, the Five Oaks and Triple Creek neighborhoods of northwestern Beaverton are mostly comprised of contemporary-style and newer homes on winding streets; this part of Beaverton is close to both the Sunset Highway and the Tanasbourne area of Hillsboro, and is popular with people who work at the region’s high-tech employers. These neighborhoods are also close to the Nike and Tektronix campuses. Sandwiched between Five Oaks and central Beaverton, although not yet technically part of the city, the unincorporated area of Cedar Hills (not to be confused with Cedar Mill, north of the Sunset Highway) is a neighborhood of single-family homes dating anywhere from about 1950 to 1980 on mostly quiet, curving streets. Cedar Hills is close to the Sunset Highway and is a short drive or bus ride from the Sunset Transit Center MAX station; the area is home to the newly upscale Cedar Hills Crossing mall and a swarm of satellite shopping centers.

Beaverton has a wealth of parks, community centers, aquatic centers, and recreation complexes, including natural areas like Tualatin Hills Nature Park. The city does not have a parks and recreation department; park facilities are managed by the Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation District, thprd.org. The Beaverton School District (beaverton.k12.or.us) is the third largest district in the state, and covers a large swath of unincorporated Washington County. School quality varies dramatically, and includes both underperformers and some of the best public schools in the area.

Beaverton traffic is legendarily congested. Both the Sunset Highway and Highway 217 can be horrible during rush hour, and 217 is often bumper-to-bumper even on Saturdays. Main through streets aren’t always much faster. Fortunately, Beaverton has excellent transit connections for a suburban community; buses run along the major streets, and the MAX line whisks commuters to downtown Portland in a little over 20 minutes. A new rush-hour commuter rail line to Tigard, Tualatin, and Wilsonville has two stations in Beaverton. Many jobs in the area are in suburban office parks and industrial campuses that can be inconvenient to reach by transit, and the majority of Beaverton commuters drive to work. Still, the city has a decent network of bike lanes and trails, and the percentage of residents who commute by bike is not much lower than the (legendarily high) percentage in Portland proper.

The city’s website, and in particular its Map Center, is a useful resource for prospective residents.

Website
beavertonoregon.gov
ZIP Codes
97003, 97005, 97006, 97007, 97008, 97225
Post Office
Beaverton Post Office, 4550 SW Betts Ave
Police Station
Beaverton Police Department, 4755 SW Griffith Dr, 503-526-2260 (general), 503-629-0111 (non-emergency dispatch), beavertonpolice.org
Emergency Hospitals
Providence St. Vincent Medical Center, 9205 SW Barnes Rd, 503-216-1234, www.providence.org; Kaiser Permanente Westside Medical Center, 2875 NW Stucki Ave, Hillsboro, 971-310-1000, kp.org
Library
Beaverton City Library: Main Library, 12375 SW 5th Ave, 503-644-2197; Murray Schools Branch, 11200 SW Murray Scholls Pl, 503-644-2197 (option 2); beavertonlibrary.org
Parks
More than 30 parks, open spaces, and recreational facilities, including Tualatin Hills Nature Park, Hyland Forest Park, Fanno Creek Park, and Greenway Park; Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation District, 503-645-6433, thprd.org
Community Publication
Beaverton Valley Times, beavertonvalleytimes.com
Public Transportation
TriMet, 503-238-RIDE, trimet.org; bus service on main routes to Hillsboro, downtown Portland, Tigard, and Southwest Portland. MAX light rail service to Hillsboro and downtown Portland; rush-hour commuter train service (WES) to Tigard, Tualatin, and Wilsonville
West Slope, Raleigh Hills, and Garden Home

Boundaries: North: Unincorporated Washington County; West: Beaverton; South: Tigard; Metzger (unincorporated Washington County); East: Portland; unincorporated Multnomah County; Area: 5.1 square miles; Population: Approximately 21,000

The three communities of West Slope, Raleigh Hills, and Garden Home lie in a narrow band between Beaverton and Portland, just west of the Multnomah County line. Residents of this mostly unincorporated area have Portland mailing addresses but generally enjoy lower Washington County property taxes. This odd (but advantageous) arrangement will change eventually, as the city of Beaverton is poised to annex the entire area in the next decade or so. All three neighborhoods are popular with families who appreciate living in a less dense suburban environment with abundant trees and recreational activities, but with easy access to Portland and Beaverton; the apartment complexes in Raleigh Hills are a common place for newcomers (including childless singles and couples) to land.

West Slope

West Slope is aptly named, as it sprawls across the west slope of the West Hills south of the Sunset Highway. The main drag here is Canyon Road, a rather unattractive strip mall that gathers car dealerships as it descends toward the flatlands of Beaverton proper. Some apartment complexes stand on or close to Canyon Road, but the neighborhoods on either side are largely comprised of single-family houses in styles ranging from tidy ranches, split-levels, and Cape Cods to large contemporary and custom-designed homes. The newest homes tend to cluster near the ridgetops north of Canyon Road. Many homes in this part of West Slope have excellent sunset views west over Beaverton to the Coast Range. South of Canyon Road, in flatter terrain, lie a public library and a neighborhood swim center.

West Slope

Beaverton has already annexed much of West Slope, which is connected to the rest of the city by a narrow tendril of land that in some places is less than a block wide. To complicate matters, part of the neighborhood is in the Portland Public Schools district, and West Sylvan Middle School, which serves much of Portland’s Westside, is technically in Beaverton.

Raleigh Hills

Moving southeast, Raleigh Hills centers on the busy commercial area where Scholls Ferry Road and Oleson Road intersect Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway. The neighborhood was originally named Raleigh; the authors of Oregon Geographic Names observe that Raleigh Hills “sounds like a name coined by real estate operators.” (The neighborhood is rolling, but not remarkably hilly except in its northern reaches.) Traffic on the main roads can be painfully congested during rush hour, and the concentration of shops and services draws traffic from surrounding neighborhoods. (For example, there are four supermarkets—a Safeway, New Seasons, a Fred Meyer, and a Walmart Neighborhood Market—along a short stretch of Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway.) On the plus side, the busy commercial strip along this road means that restaurants, shopping, and services are in easy reach. Many low-rise apartment complexes, quite a few with pools or other fairly upscale amenities, cluster along Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway and nearby sections of Scholls Ferry and Oleson roads. Off these main roads, Raleigh Hills is mostly comprised of a series of quiet and attractive subdivisions, with many well-kept ranch homes and some newer contemporary houses. North of Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway, there are some large, architect-designed homes on large wooded lots tucked into the hills. In the Vista Brook area, near the Portland Golf Club, east of Scholls Ferry Road, there is a high concentration of modernist post-and-beam “Rummer” homes, built by the Rummer Company in the 1960s essentially as design knockoffs of California Eichler homes. West of the golf club are some large new custom homes with Mount Hood views. As in West Slope, Beaverton has selectively annexed small portions of Raleigh Hills, although here only the width of a single street connects these areas to the rest of the city.

Raleigh Hills
Garden Home

Still farther south, almost to the Tigard border, Garden Home features homes that are similar to, although in many cases more modest than, those in Raleigh Hills. Most houses here date from the 1950s through the 1980s; one-level or daylight ranches are the predominant, but certainly not the only, style. The southern parts of the neighborhood tend to have the newest homes, including some recent infill development. Portland has pulled a Beaverton in Garden Home, and extended a couple of annexation tentacles into Washington County. Garden Home has a large and popular recreation center and several small neighborhood parks and wooded areas; the attractive campus of the private Oregon Episcopal School has its own wetland, and the paved Fanno Creek Greenway Trail winds through part of the neighborhood Although it is very close to the office complexes and mall at Washington Square, Garden Home itself remains primarily an area of single-family homes; unlike West Slope and Raleigh Hills, the neighborhood has few businesses, with the exception of a shopping area clustered around the Lamb’s supermarket at Oleson Road and Garden Home Road.

Garden Home

With the exception of parts of West Slope, most of this area is part of the Beaverton School District (beaverton.k12.or.us). The neighborhood is well connected by road to downtown Portland, Beaverton, and the Washington Square area, all of which are accessible if necessary without traveling on major highways. Be aware that it can be difficult to get around these neighborhoods without a car, although it is relatively easy to travel out of the neighborhoods by transit: bus service along the main east-west routes to Portland, Beaverton, or Tigard is adequate to good.

Websites
co.washington.or.us; beavertonoregon.gov
ZIP Codes
97223, 97225
Post Office
West Slope Post Office, 3225 SW 87th Ave
Police Station
Washington County Sheriff’s Office, East Precinct, 3700 SW Murray Blvd, Beaverton, 503-846-5900 (non-emergency), co.washington.or.us/sheriff/; Beaverton Police Department, 4755 SW Griffith Dr, 503-629-0111 (non-emergency dispatch), beavertonpolice.org
Emergency Hospital
Providence St. Vincent Medical Center, 9205 SW Barnes Rd, 503-216-1234, providence.org
Libraries
Garden Home Community Library, 7475 SW Oleson Rd, 503-245-9932, gardenhomelibrary.org; West Slope Community Library, 3678 SW 78th Ave, 503-292-6416, westslopelibrary.org
Parks
Community parks include Raleigh Park, Garden Home Park; part of Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation District, 503-645-6433, thprd.com
Community Publication
Beaverton Valley Times, beavertonvalleytimes.com
Public Transportation
TriMet, 503-238-RIDE, trimet.org; bus service to Portland, Beaverton, and Tigard
North of the Sunset Highway: West Haven, Cedar Mill, Oak Hills, Bethany, and Rock Creek

Boundaries: North: Unincorporated Washington County; West: Hillsboro; South: Sunset Highway (US 26); East: Portland; unincorporated Multnomah County; Area: approximately 10 square miles; Population: Approximately 43,000

The unincorporated neighborhoods west of the Multnomah County line and north of the Sunset Highway are generally residential and fairly affluent, with a highly educated population. These neighborhoods have become popular places for newcomers to settle, in large part because they offer relatively straightforward access to the major employment centers of Washington County and to downtown Portland (via the Sunset Highway or over the hills on Cornell Road or Barnes Road), because parks, shopping, and services are easily accessible, and because many new homes and apartments have been built here in recent years. Although it is densely developed, this area abuts the urban growth boundary, and rural landscapes are just a few minutes away. Home prices and rents are higher here than the metro area average, but the overall housing stock is in better condition than in some other suburban areas.

West Haven

Just west of Portland and the Multnomah County line, West Haven is basically an extension of the Sylvan area in Portland’s West Hills. The main thoroughfare, Barnes Road, is a busy alternate route between Beaverton and Portland; besides shopping plazas, office parks, and a plethora of apartment complexes, the Barnes Road area is home to Providence St. Vincent Hospital, the exclusive Catlin Gabel School, and the Oregon College of Art and Craft. Away from Barnes Road, subdivisions of single-family houses are tucked back into the woods or draped across hillsides; some older houses are fairly ramshackle, and other houses are grand, architect-designed structures, but most homes here are relatively new, relatively middle-of-the-road, relatively large structures. The far western part of the neighborhood is a sea of new townhomes and single-family homes on relatively small lots. The Sunset Transit Center, an important stop on the Westside MAX light rail line, is adjacent to the Sunset Highway on the neighborhood’s southern boundary; the northern terminus of Highway 217, which runs south toward Tigard, is also here. Two bus lines serve the neighborhood, both of which connect to the Sunset Transit Center. The neighborhood in general is not well suited to walking, other than within subdivisions, and parts of it are very hilly.

West Haven
Cedar Mill, and Bonny Slope

To the northwest, abutting both West Haven and Portland’s Forest Heights neighborhood, Cedar Mill (cedarmill.org, not to be confused with Cedar Hills, a neighborhood south of the Sunset Highway) was named for a sawmill that operated here in the 19th century. Today, instead of forest, the neighborhood is mix of quiet, established culs-de-sac with older, nicely landscaped ranch-style or contemporary homes and large subdivisions of much newer townhomes and single-family homes, typically in a “Craftsman-inspired” style. There are also a few enormous custom homes on large lots. A commercial district along Cornell Road also includes some apartment complexes and a parade of merchants eager to meet all your everyday shopping needs; office complexes and other commercial facilities occupy the southern fringe of the neighborhood along the Sunset Highway. The northern part of the neighborhood is known as Bonny Slope, an area of new housing at the foot of the West Hills, close to the urban growth boundary. Many of the homes in Bonny Slope have lovely views to the Coast Range. Cedar Mill also has a Saturday morning farmers’ market (cmfmarket.org) from June through September, which takes place near Sunset High on Cornell Road. There is bus service along Cornell Road and Saltzman Road, but much of the neighborhood has no regular transit service; recreational walkability varies, but unless you are on a main transit corridor you’ll likely need a car to get around here. The Sunset Transit Center and MAX station is a short drive away just off Highway 26.

Cedar Mill
Bonny Slope
Bethany

A bit farther to the northwest, Bethany is a sea of new housing developments. There are some high-density townhome and apartment developments, but the majority of the housing here consists of large, two-story homes in styles ranging from plain and boxy to “Craftsman-inspired” and somewhat adorned. Most lots are quite small, but open space is abundant and most streets have sidewalks; main routes have bike lanes. There is a small fishing pond (Bethany Pond) just off Northwest 185th Avenue. The neighborhood around Claremont Country Club is made up of custom, mainly single-story homes; nearby Bethany Village (bethanyvillage.com) on Bethany Boulevard is a huge mixed-use development featuring housing, retail, and office space. The commercial center of the “Village” is a shopping complex with a supermarket, bank, and other essentials. The neighborhood is also close to the Rock Creek campus of Portland Community College. The agricultural fields of North Bethany were recently brought into the urban growth boundary, and a wave of development that will bring thousands of new homes to the area is just beginning. For now, the north (largely rural) and south (built-up) sides of Northwest Springville Road exist in stark contrast. Bethany might be a good place to start if you’re looking for a brand-new home in Washington County.

Bethany
Oak Hills

The area of Bethany west of Northwest 143rd Avenue and south of West Union Road is known as Oak Hills. The homes here are generally older than those in the rest of Bethany, and consist mainly of contemporaries, ranches, and split-levels dating from the 1950s to the 1980s. The core of the neighborhood was built in the 1960s, in an early example of a planned unit development, and this part of Oak Hills was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2013. The general vibe here is mid-century, including more than a score of Eichler-style homes built by the Rummer Company. Most streets have sidewalks, and some have bike lanes. Most homes in the neighborhood are situated on loops or dead-end streets off of Oak Hills Drive, which lazily circles a large community open space. The neighborhood association maintains a pool and gymnasium.

Rock Creek

Portland Community College’s Rock Creek campus is in the northwest fringes of Bethany, on the edge of the eponymous Rock Creek neighborhood (sometimes spelled Rockcreek). The community to the west is mainly residential, with winding streets and culs-de-sac centered on the Rock Creek Country Club. Most homes are two-story contemporary-style homes or one-level ranches, in many cases with cedar shake roofs; there are a few small-scale apartment buildings and duplexes in a similar style. In the southeast part of the neighborhood, where it blends into Oak Hills, there are a few streets lined with older ranch homes and split levels; an occasional forlorn old farmhouse reminds residents that these neighborhoods were once agricultural landscapes. Thanks to the presence of the community college, parts of both Bethany (including Oak Hills) and Rock Creek have decent bus service.

Rock Creek

All these neighborhoods have excellent access to parks and open spaces, although these undeveloped parcels are not particularly large. Linear parks along stream or powerline corridors are especially common, and many homes back directly onto these greenspaces. Bethany in particular has a network of community trails. Homeowner associations maintain some parks; the remainder are part of the Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation District (thprd.com). These neighborhoods belong to the Beaverton School District (beaverton.k12.or.us); the district’s Sunset High School is located in Cedar Mill, and Westview High School is in the Rock Creek area. The elementary schools in this part of the district are generally highly regarded, and include some of the best-rated schools in the Portland area.

Website
co.washington.or.us
ZIP Codes
97006, 97225, 97229
Post Office
Cedar Mill Branch (contract post office), 12675 NW Cornell Rd, Suite B
Police Stations
Washington County Sheriff’s Office, 215 SW Adams Ave, Hillsboro, 503-846-2700; East Precinct, 3700 SW Murray Blvd, Beaverton; 503-846-5900 (non-emergency), co.washington.or.us/sheriff/
Emergency Hospitals
Providence St. Vincent Medical Center, 9205 SW Barnes Rd, 503-216-1234, providence.org; Kaiser Permanente Westside Medical Center, 2875 NW Stucki Ave, Hillsboro, 971-310-1000, kp.org
Libraries
Cedar Mill Community Library, 12505 NW Cornell Rd, Suite 13, 503-644-0043, library.cedarmill.org; Oregon College of Art and Craft Library, 8245 SW Barnes Rd, 503-297-5544
Parks
Dozens of small parks and open spaces; part of Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation District, thprd.com
Community Publication
Beaverton Valley Times, beavertonvalleytimes.com
Public Transportation
TriMet, 503-238-RIDE, trimet.org; MAX service from Sunset Transit Center; several bus lines along main roads and to Portland Community College
Aloha

Boundaries: North: Hillsboro; unincorporated Washington County; West: Hillsboro; unincorporated Washington County; South: Unincorporated Washington County; East: Beaverton; Area: 7.4 square miles; Population: 50,700

The most important thing to know about Aloha, the unincorporated area west of Beaverton, is that it has no connection to Hawaii. The name is pronounced “uh-LOW-uh,” not “uh-low-HAH.” According to Oregon Geographic Names, in 1912, the first postmaster “named the office Aloah after a small resort on Lake Winnebago in Wisconsin. During the application process the last two letters were transposed by the Post Office Department resulting in the shift from a midwest Indian name to a Hawaiian word.” Ironically, Aloha has no particular resemblance to Wisconsin, either, and does not have any lakes, let alone lake resorts.

Aloha

What Aloha does have is a sea—a sea of suburban housing. The area is not entirely residential—Metro has designated the center of Aloha as a regional “Town Center,” and businesses and light industrial facilities of many kinds line busy Tualatin Valley Highway, including an Intel campus that was the first of many in Washington County, and some supermarkets and other retail businesses border Farmington Road—but the neighborhoods on either side of the highway are filled with postwar housing developments with plenty of culs-de-sac. The predominant housing style is the ranch in its various forms—standard ranch, daylight ranch, ranch with ill-advised second-story addition—along with some split-levels and contemporary-style homes. Lots are generally reasonably large without being gigantic. Some streets have sidewalks, although most do not. In short, Aloha should feel familiar to anyone who has spent much time in America’s postwar suburbs.

Aloha has not yet experienced the surge of infill development that has transformed closer-in neighborhoods. Some new homes with views of the Tualatin Valley stand on the north slopes of Cooper Mountain, south of Farmington Road, and several newer developments have sprung up on the western fringe of the community, along SE 209th Street, but most Aloha homes are not especially new. Single-family homes make up the majority of housing options here, although there are some apartment complexes, especially in the eastern part of Aloha near the Beaverton border. In general, home prices and rents are slightly lower here than in other parts of Washington County, and (until Beaverton accomplishes its annexation ambitions) property taxes are lower, too.

Aloha is rich in neighborhood parks and open spaces, including a swim center and the bucolic Jenkins Estate in the district’s extreme southwestern corner. Aloha is convenient to both Beaverton and Hillsboro, although automobile travel to other parts of the metro area can be time-consuming and inconvenient. (The MAX line runs along Aloha’s northern border.) It is reasonably likely that Beaverton (and possibly Hillsboro) will annex much of Aloha in the next decade or two, but the area should remain unincorporated for the near future. Most of Aloha is within the Beaverton School District (beaverton.k12.or.us); the Hillsboro School District (hsd.k12.or.us) serves the western portion of Aloha.

Website
co.washington.or.us
ZIP Codes
97006, 97007, 97078
Post Office
Aloha Post Office, 3800 SW 185th Ave
Police Stations
Washington County Sheriff’s Office, 215 SW Adams Ave, Hillsboro, 503-846-2700; East Precinct, 3700 SW Murray Blvd, Beaverton; 503-846-5900 (non-emergency), co.washington.or.us/sheriff/
Emergency Hospitals
Tuality Community Hospital, 225 SE 8th Ave, Hillsboro, 503-681-1111, tuality.org; Providence St. Vincent Medical Center, 9205 SW Barnes Rd, 503-216-1234, providence.org/Oregon; Kaiser Permanente Westside Medical Center, 2875 NW Stucki Ave, Hillsboro, 971-310-1000, kp.org
Library
Aloha Community Library, 17455 SW Farmington Rd, Suite 25B, 503-259-0185, alohalibrary.org
Parks
More than 20 parks and open spaces; part of Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation District, 503-645-6433, thprd.com
Community Publications
Beaverton Valley Times, beavertonvalleytimes.com; Hillsboro Argus, hillsboroargus.com
Public Transportation
TriMet, 503-238-RIDE, trimet.org; bus service along Tualatin Valley Highway, Farmington Road, and 185th and 198th Avenues, with MAX light rail service along the community’s northern edge

Southeastern Washington County

The generally affluent southeastern chunk of Washington County has been one of the fastest-growing areas in the state over the last decade. Good schools, high-end shopping malls, access to parks and open space, and a concentration of nearby employers attract many new residents, as does housing that, while not cheap, is generally less expensive than housing in Lake Oswego, West Linn, or some other desirable suburban communities. On the downside, traffic congestion has increased markedly in recent years, both on the freeways (Interstate 5 and Highway 217) and on major city streets. If the suburban lifestyle appeals to you, and if you can handle the commute (or if you’ll be working nearby), you may want to check out the cities and communities of this part of the metro area.

Tigard

Boundaries: North: Beaverton; unincorporated Washington County; West: Beaverton; unincorporated Washington County; King City; South: Tualatin; Durham; East: Lake Oswego; Portland; Area: 12.2 square miles; Population: 50,500

Tigard (pronounced TY-gird, and not like the Winnie the Pooh character Tigger) was called Butte until the end of the 19th century, when the town became known as Tigardville, and eventually just Tigard, after early Pioneers Wilson and Polly Tigard. For many years, Tigard was little more than a farm community and minor trade center. After the Second World War, however, Tigard began to develop into a bedroom community for Portland, only nine miles to the northeast. The completion of Interstate 5 (which forms Tigard’s eastern border) in the 1960s fueled a boom in commerce and population that continues to this day.

Tigard’s small, original downtown borders newly redeveloped Main Street, just off of Pacific Highway (Highway 99W), the congested, strip mall–lined road that leads from Portland to Sherwood and Yamhill County. The city hall, library, post office and a growing number of shops and restaurants are located in this area, but Tigard’s commercial center of gravity has moved to the areas bordering the freeways that serve the city, Interstate 5 and Highway 217. At Tigard’s northern tip stands Washington Square, the metropolitan area’s largest and most upscale traditional mall, flanked by an honor guard of minor strip malls and commercial office buildings; at the city’s southeastern corner is the region’s premier “lifestyle” mall, Bridgeport Village. The zone between these two temples of commerce—essentially the eastern third of Tigard, within a few blocks of the freeways—is a mix of office parks, light industry, and big-box retailers, together with the occasional stray house or apartment building. The city has plans to increase the meager housing stock in the so-called “Tigard Triangle,” the densely commercial and pedestrian-unfriendly zone between I-5, 217, and 99W.

Tigard

Behind this bulwark of economic vitality lie the city’s residential neighborhoods. With the exception of the Pacific Highway strip and parts of Scholls Ferry Road, most of the western two-thirds of the city is residential. Homes in central Tigard, south of “downtown,” run the gamut of post-century styles, but the different subdivisions have very different flavors, depending on when and by whom they were built. Some areas are lined with ranch homes shaded by mature trees, others are comprised of clusters of tastefully painted newer townhomes, and still others feature basic two-story homes on stark culs-de-sac. One constant is that there are very few through streets, so traffic on residential streets tends to be light. Most blocks have at least a few families with children, with the exception of the neighborhood around Summerfield Golf Course, which is a 55+ residential community with some 1,700 residents. The southern end of the city is a landscape of culs-de-sac with newer, generally two-story homes, mixed with older ranches on older streets. This area is within walking distance of Cook Park, on the north bank of the Tualatin River.

West of Pacific Highway, most housing developments are less than 20 years old, and some are brand-new. In the northern reaches of the city, near Washington Square and along Scholls Ferry Road, there is a large stock of townhouses and apartment complexes, together with office parks, medical clinics, and other commercial buildings. Apartment buildings also abut stretches of Pacific Highway. Away from these areas, western Tigard is primarily an area of large, newer single-family homes. There are several high hills in this part of the city, and some houses have impressive views of Mount Hood. The median home price in Tigard is roughly in line with the metro-area average, and is higher than in Beaverton but lower than Tualatin, its immediate neighbors. You can expect to pay substantially above the city average price for a home that is larger than average, is relatively new, or offers a view.

Tigard’s fast growth, combined with a similar level of growth in nearby suburbs, has resulted in significant traffic congestion. The nine-mile commute to downtown Portland takes 15 minutes on a good day or during off-peak hours, but it can last 45 minutes or more if there is an accident or other mishap. Highway 217 is no better, and Pacific Highway (99W) is notoriously slow. Buses serve Pacific Highway and some other main streets, but are often inconvenient except for commuters going to Portland, Tualatin, Washington Square, or Beaverton. There is no light-rail service—and given vocal opposition to the idea by some local groups, there isn’t likely to be light rail service anytime soon—although the WES commuter train line between Beaverton and Wilsonville stops in downtown Tigard.

Tigard

Despite its congestion, Tigard is considered a desirable place for families, and roughly one-third of the city’s households are families with school-age children. Most of the city is part of the well-regarded Tigard-Tualatin School District (ttsdschools.org); a small area in the northern portion of the city is part of the Beaverton School District (beaverton.k12.or.us). Tigard High School offers an International Baccalaureate program. Tigard has more than a dozen pleasant city parks, including Cook Park on the north bank of the Tualatin River, Summerlake Park in the northwest, and the greenways along Fanno Creek. The Tigard Farmers’ Market (tigardfarmersmarket.com) is held in a parking lot near downtown Tigard on Sundays from mid-May through October. The highlight of the municipal calendar is the Tigard Festival of Balloons—these are major hot-air affairs, not birthday party–grade helium balloons—held each June.

Website
tigard-or.gov
ZIP Codes
97223, 97224
Post Office
Tigard Post Office, 12210 SW Main St
Police Station
Tigard Police Department, 13125 SW Hall Blvd, 503-629-0111 (non-emergency)
Emergency Hospitals
Legacy Meridian Park Medical Center, 19300 SW 65th Ave, Tualatin, 503-692-1212, legacyhealth.org; Providence St. Vincent Medical Center, 9205 SW Barnes Rd, 503-216-1234, providence.org
Library
Tigard Public Library, 13500 SW Hall Blvd, 503-684-6537, tigard-or.gov/library
Parks
24 city parks and open spaces, including Cook Park, Fanno Creek Park, and Summerlake Park; tigard-or.gov/community/parks/
Community Publications
The Times, tigardtimes.com; The Regal Courier, theregalcourier.com
Public Transportation
TriMet, 503-238-RIDE, trimet.org; eight bus lines along major routes to and from neighboring communities and downtown Portland; rush-hour commuter rail service (WES) to Beaverton, Tualatin, and Wilsonville
Durham

Durham is a tiny (265-acre) incorporated city of about 1,400 people wedged between Tigard and Tualatin along Upper Boones Ferry Road. The city is primarily residential, and although there are several office parks along Upper Boones Ferry, Durham has no retail establishments. (The city is, however, a short walk or drive to the Bridgeport Village shopping center just to the east.) Apart from a few small apartment complexes on Upper Boones Ferry, the city’s housing is comprised of contemporary-style homes dating primarily from the 1960s to the 1980s. Most of these homes are on good-sized but not enormous lots on curving back streets and culs-de-sac, the names of which—Rivendell Drive, Woody End, Wilderland Court—suggest a developer with a Lord of the Rings fetish. Residents are justly proud of the city’s canopy of mature conifers (a fact which is a bit ironic, as the city was named after a pioneer sawmill owner).

Durham

Durham is within the Tigard-Tualatin School District (ttsdschools.org). Durham Elementary School is actually just across the city limit in Tigard.

Website
durham-oregon.us
Bull Mountain

The unincorporated area of Bull Mountain occupies the ridgeline and slopes of the mountain of the same name west of Tigard. Bull Mountain has more than 10,000 residents, but its voters narrowly rejected incorporation in 2006 and the area has resisted wholesale annexation attempts by Tigard. Tigard has, however, selectively annexed small parcels in the eastern part of Bull Mountain, and is slowly annexing other areas where property owners request or agree to annexation.

The main road in Bull Mountain is, appropriately enough, Bull Mountain Road, which connects with 99W and runs east-west through the neighborhood. Access to most Bull Mountain homes is via the winding roads that branch north and south off of Bull Mountain Road. Several minor roads lead out of the neighborhood and down to Tigard and Beaverton, relieving traffic pressure on narrow Bull Mountain Road itself. Much of Bull Mountain consists of large, often custom-designed, homes with Mount Hood views, which may or may not be inside walled-in (although not necessarily gated) subdivisions. Newer homes here range from spacious to ostentatiously massive in size; many, if not most, are high up enough to have views of something, whether it be Mount Hood or the Tualatin Valley. There are also some neighborhoods of older ranches and split-levels, which are very nicely kept and landscaped with larger yards than many of the newer homes. The subdivisions in the western part of the neighborhood directly abut farmland.

Bull Mountain in general has higher home prices than neighboring Tigard or Beaverton, in large part because homes here tend to be relatively large and relatively new, with views. The neighborhood is extremely quiet; there are no townhouses or apartments and no major through highways, and public transportation is not available. Bull Mountain school children attend Tigard-Tualatin schools (ttsdschools.org). The unincorporated area has no public parks, although some subdivisions have their own greenspace areas.

King City

Turn off busy Pacific Highway at Southwest Royalty Parkway, behind Grocery Outlet, and you will find yourself in King City, a 1960s-era retirement community of some 3,250 people. The streets, which generally have “royal” names—Imperial Avenue, King Richard Drive, Queen Victoria Place, etc.—wind around a semi-private golf course; watch for the “Golf Carts on Street” signs. Most homes are modest ranches and split-levels, and there are also some older condo complexes. Many King City residences (and the golf course) have Mount Hood views. If King City sounds like your kind of place, you may have to wait a while: most properties have deed restrictions that require at least one owner to be over 55, and that bar anyone under 18 from living there. In recent years, however, King City has begun annexing nearby unincorporated areas to the south and west, and the deed restrictions don’t apply in these new parts of the city. Look for the median age of King City residents (currently in the low 60s, down from 76 in 2000) to continue to decline in the future.

King City
Website
ci.king-city.or.us
Tualatin

Boundaries: North: Tigard, Durham; West: Unincorporated Washington County; South: Unincorporated Washington County; East: Lake Oswego, unincorporated Clackamas County and Washington County; Area: 8.3 square miles; Population: 27,000

Tualatin (pronounced too-WALL-uh-tin), 12 miles south of downtown Portland, was once a sleepy small town on the south bank of the river for which it was named. Although it was incorporated in 1913, by 1970 the city still had fewer than 1,000 residents. Tualatin’s population has since increased more than 25-fold, and the area continues to boom, with new residents drawn by the city’s pleasant neighborhoods and greenspaces, strong public schools, family-friendly environment, and the growth of nearby high-tech businesses.

While Tualatin has no real downtown, the city is centered on the area just south of the Tualatin River, between Southwest Boones Ferry Road and Martinazzi Avenue. This area contains Tualatin Commons; built on the former site of a pet food factory, the development now includes an artificial lake, offices, restaurants, apartments, and a hotel. The city hall and library are also located here. (The library proudly displays the skeleton of a mastodon that was excavated nearby in the 1960s.) A self-guided Artwalk wends through the city center area, past public art (including the mastodon) and a few historic structures, and even such oddball attractions as a garden of poisonous plants. Nearby, a few older shopping plazas and apartment complexes blend into the new retail developments along Tualatin-Sherwood Road. The small part of the city that lies north of the Tualatin River contains most of Bridgeport Village, a popular upscale outdoor mall. (The rest of Bridgeport Village is in Tigard.)

Tualatin

Outside this concentration of commercial and medium-density residential developments, single-family homes comprise the bulk of the city’s built-up area. Tualatin’s residential districts generally feature medium-to-large homes on quiet, curving residential streets and culs-de-sac. The predominant housing style is one- or two-story Northwest contemporary or “shed” design; some homes have rather interesting architecture, and most have pleasantly landscaped yards with trees. There are a few older neighborhoods of ranch homes and split-levels; the newest neighborhoods cluster in southwest Tualatin. Some of these homes veer towards the McMansion end of the housing spectrum, with three-car garages and “great rooms.” The real estate crash resulted in a number of completed, but largely unoccupied, developments in this part of the city; now that the market has recovered, and the available inventory has sold, some new developments are edging into the fields. There are also some townhomes and apartment complexes along Boones Ferry Road near Interstate 5; and in East Tualatin near Legacy Meridian Park Hospital. The large planned development of Fox Hill perches above the Tualatin River in the easternmost part of the city. (East Tualatin is in Clackamas County.)

Because of Tualatin’s popularity, housing prices are somewhat higher than in many other Washington County suburbs, although monthly rents are comparable. (Despite the preponderance of single-family homes, nearly half the population lives in rentals.) The city’s main annual celebration is the Tualatin Crawfish Festival, which has survived for more than half a century despite the curse placed upon it by the Voodoo Queen of Acadiana in Louisiana, who felt perhaps overly protective of her region’s claim to lifetime achievement in the field of crawfish. The city has a decent selection of community parks; Browns Ferry Park along the Tualatin River provides a launching point for canoes and kayaks.

Tualatin

The city’s major streets and Interstate 5 are growing increasingly congested, and Tualatin-Sherwood Road is ridiculously slow at certain times of day. Projected continued strong population growth in Sherwood and Wilsonville over the medium-term will continue to affect the traffic situation in Tualatin adversely. It’s a 15-minute drive to downtown Portland at off-hours, but that figure doubles (or triples) at rush hour. Although the city is generally very car-dependent, Tri-Met offers express bus service to Portland, and there is a park-and-ride near Interstate 5. SMART runs buses between Tualatin and Wilsonville, and the WES commuter rail line between Wilsonville and Beaverton serves central Tualatin.

Almost all of Tualatin is part of the Tigard-Tualatin School District (ttsdschools.org), and Tualatin High School offers an International Baccalaureate program.

Tualatin
Website
tualatinoregon.gov
ZIP Code
97062
Post Office
Tualatin Post Office, 19190 SW 90th Ave
Police Station
Tualatin Police Department, 8650 SW Tualatin Rd, 503-629-0111 (non-emergency)
Emergency Hospital
Legacy Meridian Park Medical Center, 19300 SW 65th Ave, Tualatin, 503-692-1212, legacyhealth.org
Library
Tualatin Public Library, 18878 SW Martinazzi Ave, 503-691-3074
Parks
9 parks, including Browns Ferry Park, Atfalati Park, and Ibach Park; tualatinoregon.gov/recreation
Community Publication
The Tualatin Times, tualatintimes.com
Public Transportation
TriMet, 503-238-RIDE, trimet.org (bus service between Tualatin and Portland or Lake Oswego); SMART, 503-682-7790, ridesmart.com (bus service between Tualatin and Wilsonville); peak-hour commuter rail service (WES) to Wilsonville, Tigard, and Beaverton
Sherwood

Boundaries: North: Unincorporated Washington County; West: Unincorporated Washington County; South: Unincorporated Washington County; East: Tualatin; unincorporated Washington County; Area: 4.3 square miles; Population: 18,500

The outlying community of Sherwood, about 16 miles southwest of downtown Portland, is on the fringe of the metropolitan area, surrounded on three sides by the farms and wooded hills of rural Washington and Yamhill Counties. (The city is far enough out to have its own urban growth boundary.) It is also one of the fastest growing cities in the state. This growth has brought traffic congestion and not-always-sensitive development; many outsiders experience Sherwood only along the two main through roads, Pacific Highway (Highway 99W), which is lined by strip malls, punctuated by the occasional large apartment complex, and Sherwood-Tualatin Road, which is flanked by industrial facilities and office parks and plagued by incessant truck traffic. The perception of the city these streets create is both unfortunate and inaccurate, as most of Sherwood is a quiet, pleasant suburban community with a small-town feel and strong community spirit.

Sherwood

The heart of this hidden city is Old Town Sherwood, a compact old-fashioned downtown where a beautiful new public library and a few new upscale businesses have started a minor revitalization. Old Town also hosts the Sherwood Saturday Market (sherwoodmarket.blogspot.com), held Saturday mornings from May through September. The adjacent Smockville neighborhood—Smockville was the original name of the town before its incorporation in 1892—is filled with bungalows and other older homes. Stella Olsen Park, at this neighborhood’s western end, hosts concerts and outdoor movie screenings during the summer. Across the railroad tracks to the southeast stands a mix of generally modest single-family homes ranging in age from early-20th-century cottages to ranches and contemporary-style homes. The hills around Murdock Park, in Southeast Sherwood, are high enough to offer good views of the surrounding countryside; two-story contemporary homes line the short, sometimes steep, streets. Newer tract homes dominate the southern and southwestern parts of the city. The newest developments tend to be large, self-contained and walled-off (although not actually gated) blocks of large single-family homes, some of which have very small yards. The vast majority of Sherwood’s housing stock consists of single-family homes, but some new apartment complexes have sprung up along Pacific Highway in the northern part of the city.

Smockville Neighborhood

Despite Sherwood’s substantial distance from the metropolitan center, real estate is not exactly cheap: the median home price is comparable to Tigard’s, and quite a bit higher than prices in Beaverton or Hillsboro. The median household income, meanwhile, is higher than in most other metro-area communities. Traffic congestion can be (and usually is) a problem heading out of town toward Tigard or Tualatin; there is frequent (but not necessarily lightning-fast) bus service to Tigard and Portland. A new connector road between Interstate 5 and Highway 99W, which would bypass Tualatin-Sherwood Road, has been proposed to alleviate existing bottlenecks. Sherwood’s biggest municipal festival is the annual Robin Hood Festival, complete with archery contest (but so far no “rob from the rich, give to the poor” event) (robinhoodfestival.org). (The city was named, either directly or indirectly depending on which story you believe, for England’s Sherwood Forest.) The city is a popular choice for households with children, a fact reinforced in 2009 by Family Circle magazine naming Sherwood one of the top ten cities in the country for families. (Caveat: Family Circle’s screening criteria may not match yours.) Most of Sherwood is within the city’s own school district (sherwood.k12.or.us); a small part of the northern portion of the city is within the Hillsboro School District (hsd.k12.or.us).

Website
sherwoodoregon.gov
ZIP Code
97140
Post Office
Sherwood Post Office, 16300 SW Langer Dr
Police Station
Sherwood Police Department, 20495 SW Borchers Rd, 503-625-5523 (non-emergency)
Emergency Hospital
Legacy Meridian Park Medical Center, 19300 SW 65th Ave, Tualatin, 503-692-1212, legacyhealth.org
Library
Sherwood Public Library, 22560 SW Pine St, 503-625-6688, sherwoodoregon.gov/library
Parks
12 public parks and open spaces, including Stella Olsen Park, plus Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge
Community Publication
Sherwood Gazette, sherwoodgazette.com
Public Transportation
TriMet, 503-238-RIDE, trimet.org; one bus line with frequent service and one express bus line to Tigard and downtown Portland

Western Washington County

Western Washington County blends the wonders of the modern world with the splendors of the natural environment. The tech employers of booming Hillsboro attract skilled workers from around the world, while just a few miles away you’ll find fog-shrouded forested hills and world-class wineries. It’s not perfect—traffic can be a nightmare, and increasing immigration and other demographic changes have caused growing pains and general strife about tax and land use issues—but western Washington County remains one of the fastest-growing parts of the state and is a major economic engine for the Portland area.

Hillsboro

Boundaries: North: Unincorporated Washington County; West: Unincorporated Washington County; Cornelius; South: Unincorporated Washington County; East: Aloha (unincorporated Washington County), Beaverton; Area: 23.9 square miles; Population: 93,500

Hillsboro is not named for the city’s terrain—the landscape could be described as “rolling” at best—but rather for early pioneer David Hill, who arrived in Oregon in 1842 and settled in this region by 1845. It’s safe to say that Hill would be astonished if he could see what has happened to his old homestead. Over the last three decades or so, Hillsboro has grown from a sleepy agricultural service center and county seat to become the pulsing heart of the so-called Silicon Forest and the sixth largest city in Oregon. Computer-chip giant Intel, the largest private employer in the state, has several facilities in the city; the newest of these, the company’s multi-billion dollar DX1 fab project, is scheduled to come online in 2015. Other technology companies with operations here include Epson, FEI, and Lattice Semiconductor. Most technology facilities are set in large industrial “campuses,” which are heavily concentrated in the northeastern quarter of the city, close to the Sunset Highway. (In addition to “Silicon Forest,” this part of Washington County is sometimes referred to as the Sunset Corridor.) Hillsboro’s economic transition has caused a demographic transition as well: the city’s population is becoming increasingly diverse, with many new Hispanic, East Asian, and South Asian residents (some of whom have come on H-1B visas to work at the region’s tech companies).

Hillsboro
Tanasbourne

The northeastern part of Hillsboro, besides harboring many industrial campuses and office parks, also has abundant shopping and residential options. The Tanasbourne district, which straddles Cornell Road west of 185th Avenue, includes the Streets of Tanasbourne (streetsoftanasbourne.com)—an upscale “lifestyle” mall—and a coterie of nearby retail hangers-on. The surrounding area is bursting with large residential developments, primarily apartment and townhome complexes with names that often follow this formula: Name = [(cutesy or made-up noun) + (general location or geographical feature) + e], e.g., “The Brookfordington at the Pointe.” Most of the development in this area has occurred over the last 20 years, so housing units tend to be fairly new and complexes often have better-than-average amenities. The superabundance of apartments means that it’s usually easy to find a vacancy in the area, and Tanasbourne attracts many newcomers, especially those who plan to work for Hillsboro employers.

Southwest of Tanasbourne is the much-lauded Orenco Station development, named for the Oregon Nursery Company that used to operate farms on the site. Orenco Station was one of the country’s first suburban New Urbanist developments—mixed-use, transit-oriented, and pedestrian-friendly planned communities—with a residential mix including apartments, neo-traditional single-family homes with big front porches, and brick townhomes with Brooklyn-style stoops (but sanitized to avoid Brooklyn-style interactions—you talkin’ to me?). Housing surrounds a “town center” with shops and restaurants. The Orenco “station” is the adjacent stop on the Westside light rail; downtown Portland is 40 minutes away by train. Orenco Station also hosts one of Hillsboro’s three weekly farmers’ markets, held on Sunday mornings during the summer months. Orenco Station has become so successful, in fact, that several other developments in the area have adopted the Orenco name to bask in the reflected glory of the original development; these other Orencos do not necessarily incorporate any elements of New Urbanist design.

West along Cornell Road, across from the Washington County Fairgrounds, Hillsboro Airport is home base for the local fleet of corporate jets, as well as less glamorous aircraft. As a result, airplane noise can be a concern for some residents. The neighborhoods west of the airport, around Hillsboro High School, have a mix of ranch and contemporary homes. The Jones Farm area, near an Intel campus of the same name, features newer two-story houses on culs-de-sac and dead-end streets; the small park at the center of the neighborhood is reserved for the use of residents only. Other parts of Northwest Hillsboro offer mostly two-story contemporary homes from the 1980s and 1990s, as well as some new housing developments on the fringe of the built-up area. This part of Hillsboro is growing in popularity, although it is a bit of slog from other parts of the metro area. Northwest Evergreen Road offers a stark example of the urban growth boundary in action: housing subdivisions spread out to the south, while working agricultural fields occupy the land to the north.

Hillsboro

Downtown Hillsboro is a mix of businesses, apartment complexes, and city and county government buildings, including a modern civic center and the historic county courthouse. This is the western terminus of the Westside MAX line; the trip from here to downtown Portland takes about 50 to 55 minutes. Main Street is lined with small shops and eateries, which stay open late for the Tuesday Market, held on Tuesday evenings from June through August. Downtown also hosts a farmers’ market on Saturday mornings from May through October; see hillsboromarkets.org for details. The residential neighborhoods surrounding downtown include some lovely restored bungalows and other older homes, leftovers from Hillsboro as it was when it was simply a county seat and not a major suburb and center of industry. The neighborhoods east of downtown feature ranches in varying states of repair and disrepair, mixed with some new apartment buildings; this area also contains small-scale cul-de-sac developments of newer homes, shoehorned into gaps in existing built-up areas. The areas further east, around Century High School, are mostly traditional suburban neighborhoods, with plenty of two-story, contemporary-style houses on short loops and dead-end streets.

Hillsboro is a demographic grab-bag of singles, families, students, elderly long-time residents, new immigrants from other countries, affluent high-tech workers, and low-paid agricultural laborers. (Farms, plant nurseries, and wineries still operate just beyond the urban growth boundary.) Like Beaverton, Hillsboro contains just about every kind of housing you could imagine, although Hillsboro is less expensive and not as densely populated as Beaverton, and homeowners make up a slightly higher percentage of the population. The Hillsboro School District (hsd.k12.or.us) is a mixed bag, with both excellent and mediocre schools. The city operates an extensive network of parks, recreation centers, “linear parks,” and open spaces, including aptly named Noble Woods Park; Shute Park, which includes an aquatic center and library; and Rood Bridge Park, which has a put-in for canoes and kayaks along the Tualatin River. Jackson Bottom Wetlands (jacksonbottom.org) is an extensive area of marshland and bird habitat just south of downtown. Hillsboro is also home to the Hops, a minor-league baseball team that plays at Ron Tonkin Field, just south of the Sunset Highway.

Hillsboro has MAX light rail service to Beaverton and Portland, and a decent network of bus lines, but most residents get around by car, and the sprawling nature of development has resulted in significant congestion. The Sunset Highway commute to Portland can be a nightmare, while the slog along Tualatin Valley Highway to Beaverton is usually slow but manageable. People with jobs in or near Hillsboro are more likely to enjoy living here than people who work far away and intend to commute by car.

Website
ci.hillsboro.or.us
ZIP Codes
97006, 97123, 97124
Post Office
Hillsboro Post Office, 125 S 1st Ave
Police Station
Hillsboro Police Department, 250 SE 10th Ave, 503-681-6190 (non-emergency); Tanasbourne Precinct, 20795 NW Cornell Rd, Ste 100, 503-615-6641
Emergency Hospitals
Tuality Community Hospital, 335 SE 8th Ave, Hillsboro, 503-681-1111, tuality.org; Kaiser Permanente Westside Medical Center, 2875 NW Stucki Ave, Hillsboro, 971-310-1000, kp.org
Libraries
Hillsboro Main Library, 2850 NE Brookwood Pkwy; Shute Park Branch Library, 775 SE 10th Ave; 503-615-6500, hillsboro.plinkit.org
Parks
More than 25 developed parks and facilities, including Noble Woods Park, Shute Park (and Shute Park Aquatic and Recreation Center), and Rood Bridge Park; 503-681-6120
Community Publication
Hillsboro Argus, oregonlive.com/argus
Public Transportation
TriMet, 503-238-RIDE, trimet.org; bus service on many major thoroughfares and light rail service east to Beaverton and downtown Portland
Cornelius

Boundaries: North: Unincorporated Washington County; West: Forest Grove; South: Unincorporated Washington County; East: Unincorporated Washington County; Area: 2.0 square miles; Population: 12,200

Cornelius is perhaps the least-known of Portland’s sizable suburbs; ask the average Portlander what they think about Cornelius, and the response is likely to be, “Who?” (The “who,” by the way, is the colorfully named Colonel T. R. Cornelius, who sounds like a character in an animated 1960s Christmas special but was actually a settler in the area in the 1840s.) It’s not too surprising that Cornelius is not better known; it lacks any major landmarks, shopping centers, significant employers, or indeed regional destinations of any kind, and the city officially proclaims itself “Oregon’s family town,” a motto that is unlikely to garner tons of press. Cornelius serves as both a farm and forest service center and as a dormitory community of commuters to other parts of the region; in sum, it’s a pretty quiet place.

Cornelius

The average household income in Cornelius is lower than in many other Washington County communities, in part because many residents are recent immigrants, but the flip side of the income coin is that housing is less expensive here than elsewhere in the county. Indeed, the median home price is among the lowest in the metro area, in part because of a lack of large, expensive homes to skew the data upward. Moreover, the crime rate is lower than in many other affordable parts of the metropolitan area.

State Highway 8 bisects the city in a couplet of one-way streets. The city has no real downtown, but the city hall and other public buildings are near the eastern end of the couplet, in the historic and recently spiffed-up center of the community. Most of the city’s older, prewar homes are in this area, particularly south of Highway 8. The bulk of the city’s housing stock consists of fairly modest single-family homes, ranging from small cottages (or mobile homes) to ranches and fairly large two-story homes. A fair number of houses painted unusual colors—magenta, chartreuse, purple, and pink, among others—enliven the rather conventional neighborhoods in the southwestern part of the city. Some new developments of large single-family homes have sprung up in the northeastern part of the city, off North 19th and 29th Avenues.

Part of Cornelius lies within the Forest Grove School District (fgsd.k12.or.us), while the eastern portion is part of the Hillsboro School District (hsd.k12.or.us); the city is considering starting its own school district so that all children from the city can go to the same high school.

Website
ci.cornelius.or.us
ZIP Code
97113
Post Office
Cornelius Post Office, 1639 Baseline St
Police Station
Cornelius Police Department, 1311 N Barlow St, 503-359-1881 (non-emergency)
Emergency Hospital
Tuality Forest Grove Hospital, 1809 Maple St, Forest Grove, 503-357-2173, tuality.org; Kaiser Permanente Westside Medical Center, 2875 NW Stucki Ave, Hillsboro, 971-310-1000, kp.org
Library
Cornelius Public Library, 1355 N Barlow St, 503-357-4093
Parks
10 city parks and open spaces; ci.cornelius.or.us
Community Publication
Forest Grove News-Times, forestgrovenewstimes.com
Public Transportation
TriMet, 503-238-RIDE, trimet.org; one bus line, with frequent service to Forest Grove, Hillsboro, and Beaverton
Forest Grove

Boundaries: North: Unincorporated Washington County; West: Unincorporated Washington County; South: Unincorporated Washington County; East: Cornelius; Area: 5.9 square miles; Population: 22,000

Forest Grove lies near the eastern foot of the Coast Range at the westernmost edge of the metropolitan area, 25 miles from Portland. While the city is not entirely unplugged from Washington County’s high-tech economy—Viasystems, a circuit board manufacturer, is the city’s largest employer, with 800 workers—Forest Grove remains an important agricultural service center. In addition to traditional farms and forestland—the city is named Forest Grove for a reason—the surrounding rural area includes several wineries, and even a sakery (SakeOne, sakeone.com). In many neighborhoods, farmland is literally just down the street, and the city feels much more like a small town than a suburb in an urban agglomeration of nearly two million people.

Forest Grove

The city’s cultural center is Pacific University, chartered in 1849 as Tualatin Academy, which occupies a bucolic (and rapidly expanding) campus in the center of town. The adjacent historic downtown includes several antique stores and restaurants as well as the Forest Theater (actvtheaters.com), which shows second-run movies. A farmers’ market is held on Main Street downtown on Wednesday evenings from May through October; during market season, downtown merchants stay open late on the first Wednesday of each month.

South of downtown, the extensive Clark Historic District is filled with old farmhouses, Queen Anne Victorians, Craftsman bungalows, and old cottages; some have been grandly restored, and while others have been neglected, the neighborhood feels a bit like it was lifted from a Norman Rockwell painting. North of downtown, small apartment complexes cluster around Pacific University. Further north, off the road to Banks, a few new multi-story duplexes and triplexes stand among modest ranches and smallish contemporary homes. The western end of town features winding streets and culs-de-sac with some new housing developments; the Coast Range looms scenically just to the west.

Strip malls and commercial uses dominate the area along Pacific Avenue east of downtown. The most impressive establishment in this part of town is McMenamins Grand Lodge (thegrandlodge.com); this former Masonic & Eastern Star Lodge has been restored and converted to the standard McMenamins combo of guestrooms, multiple bars, a movie theater, and a soaking pool.

Forest Grove

Forest Grove has several city parks and recreational facilities, including a popular aquatic facility, but the biggest recreational draws are Fernhill Wetlands, a prime bird-watching area in the city’s southeast corner, and Henry Hagg Lake, a favorite swimming and boating destination in the foothills a few miles south of town. Many Forest Grove residents work in Hillsboro, a relatively manageable 20-minute drive away, but others face a long commute to workplaces elsewhere in the metro area. A single bus line runs from Forest Grove east to Hillsboro and Beaverton. There has been some discussion of extending light rail from Hillsboro to Forest Grove, but no firm plans (or, more importantly, funding commitments) have been made. The city is part of the Forest Grove School District (fgsd.k12.or.us).

Website
ci.forest-grove.or.us
ZIP Code
97116
Post Office
Forest Grove Post Office, 1822 21st Ave
Police Station
Forest Grove Police Department, 2102 Pacific Ave, 503-629-0111 (non-emergency)
Emergency Hospitals
Tuality Forest Grove Hospital, 1809 Maple St, Forest Grove, 503-357-2173, tuality.org; Kaiser Permanente Westside Medical Center, 2875 NW Stucki Ave, Hillsboro, 971-310-1000, kp.org
Library
Forest Grove City Library, 2114 Pacific Ave, 503-992-3247, ci.forest-grove.or.us/city-hall/library.html
Parks
9 city parks, including Lincoln Park (with skate park), plus an aquatic center
Community Publication
Forest Grove News-Times, forestgrovenewstimes.com
Public Transportation
TriMet, 503-238-RIDE, trimet.org; one bus line, with frequent service to Cornelius, Hillsboro, and Beaverton

Outlying Washington County Communities

Beyond the urban growth boundary, past the last office parks and townhouse developments, Washington County remains largely rural, with an economy based on agriculture and forestry rather than high-tech industry. Several small towns and cities dot the hinterlands; these communities are generally growing in population, in large part because of a minor influx of commuters, but they have so far been spared the indignity of turning into purely dormitory suburbs.

North Plains

Hazelnut groves and rich farmland surround the city of North Plains (cityofnp.org), located just north of the Sunset Highway. This city of about 2,000 people has a diminutive downtown with civic buildings—a city hall, a police station, a fire station, and a new wood-and-stone public library with ceilings made from clear hemlock—along with a couple of taverns, a market, and a hardware store. Other commercial establishments are in strip malls on Glencoe Road, just off the highway. Homes within city limits run the gamut from moss-covered, moldering shacks to developments of large new houses; a few multimillion-dollar estates lurk in the vicinity of world-class Pumpkin Ridge Golf Course just north of town. Many homes in the countryside outside of town have spectacular settings. The city expects to double in population by 2020.

North Plains holds an elephant garlic festival every year. Speaking of stinky things, North Plains is also the site of a large composting facility, which generated terrible odors until it stopped processing commercial food waste in 2013. Now, while parts of town get an occasional unpleasant whiff, the smell situation is much better. North Plains is part of the Hillsboro School District (hsd.k12.or.us).

Banks

A few miles further west, Banks (cityofbanks.org) lies near the eastern foot of the Coast Range, north of Forest Grove. Most businesses, schools, and government buildings, and many houses, are located on or just off the city’s main street (conveniently named Main Street). At the north end of town, huge piles of logs along the railroad track await milling. Most homes within city limits are bungalows or early-20th-century styles, with the significant exception of some large new housing developments in the southern half of the city. Several wineries are nearby, and Banks is also the terminus of the 21-mile Banks-Vernonia State Trail (oregonstateparks.org), a multi-use linear trail built on an old railway line, which leads into the foothills of the Coast Range. Despite its small size and tiny population (about 1,900 people), Banks has its own school district (banks.k12.or.us).

Scholls
Gaston, Laurel, Scholls, Gales Creek, Roy, and Helvetia

Other rural Washington County communities include Gaston, near Henry Hagg Lake in the foothills of the Coast Range; Laurel, at the foot of the Chehalem Mountains south of Hillsboro; Scholls, an unincorporated, primarily agricultural community on the Tualatin River south of Hillsboro and north of Newberg; the logging town of Gales Creek, in a scenic valley northwest of Forest Grove; and Roy, known for its lavish holiday displays in December, when the entire town is tricked out with light bulbs and ostentatious holiday displays—look for clouds reflecting the glow on the western horizon. Bucolic Helvetia is representative of the rural unincorporated areas in the rolling farmlands north of the Sunset Highway. Public transportation is essentially nonexistent in the rural areas of Washington County.

Laurel

Clackamas County

Portland’s self-appointed tastemakers used to consider most of Clackamas County (with the affluent exceptions of Lake Oswego and West Linn, and especially the portion of Dunthorpe that spills over into the county) a bit beyond the pale, a sort of semi-rural backwater, populated by slack-jawed yokels, that lacked both the urban amenities of Portland and the dynamic economic growth that justified Washington County’s existence. Such derisive nicknames as “Clackistan” were bandied about. (The widely publicized shenanigans of Clackamas County’s Tonya Harding and Jeff Gillooly did not help to dispel this view.)

Anyone who still clings to this stereotype is behind the times. While many of the outlying areas remain fairly rural and admittedly (and proudly) not especially sophisticated, inner Clackamas County has experienced blistering population growth in recent years, and areas like Damascus are slated to accommodate much of the Portland area’s projected population increase over the next 20 years. Parts of Clackamas County boast some of the highest average home prices in the region, and as for trendiness—well, for what it’s worth, there are now dozens of Starbucks locations in the county, and nary a yokel in sight. Newcomers who once would never have given Clackamas County serious consideration are now settling there in droves. More are coming. You might be one of them.

Southwest Clackamas County

The suburbs of southwest Clackamas County—the area south of Portland and west of the Willamette—have some of Oregon’s highest per capita incomes and most coveted real estate. A few areas, such as much of Wilsonville and the Kruse Way area of Lake Oswego, are regional commercial centers, but most of the land in this part of Clackamas County is devoted to residential (or outside the urban growth boundary, quasi-agricultural) uses.

Dunthorpe and Riverdale

These exclusive unincorporated neighborhoods occupy wooded hillsides, laced by sinuous roads, on the west bank of the Willamette River south of Portland. Although Dunthorpe and Riverdale lie mostly in Multnomah rather than Clackamas County, demographically they are more akin to Lake Oswego, their affluent neighbor to the south, than to Portland. Genteel Dunthorpe (together with the neighboring enclave of Riverdale) is known for large homes on large lots with correspondingly large price tags: A Dunthorpe fixer on acreage might go for a million dollars, if you’re lucky. Home styles range from staid traditional to bold (but usually not too bold) contemporary. Because residents value privacy, properties are often fenced, walled, or hedged off, and many houses are not actually visible from the street. (This is not necessarily a bad thing—not everyone finds five-car garages attractive.) Many of the homes located along the Willamette River have boathouses or floating docks. That said, not every house in Dunthorpe is a splendidly isolated mansion, and there are some ranch-style and contemporary houses that would not seem out-of-place in surrounding communities.

Dunthorpe

The area has its own excellent school district, Riverdale School District (riverdaleschool.com), which consistently produces some of the highest test scores and college matriculation rates in the state. Riverdale Elementary School lies squarely in the middle of the neighborhood, off Riverside Drive, but Riverdale High School was built nearby in Southwest Portland (presumably to avoid the significant expense of condemning Dunthorpe real estate). Celebrities who have purchased homes here include various Portland Trail Blazers, actor Danny Glover, and Linus Torvalds, creator of the Linux open-source computer operating system.

Lake Oswego

Boundaries: North: Portland; Dunthorpe; West: Tigard; South: West Linn; unincorporated Clackamas County; East: Willamette River; Area: 11.2 square miles; Population: 36,900

For many newcomers who can afford to live here, Lake Oswego represents the path of least resistance. It is the Portland version of an East Coast old-money suburb: affluent, tidy, woodsy, and generally quiet, with good schools and neighbors who keep the lawn mowed and the hedges trimmed. These features make it one of the most sought-after and prestigious places to live in the Portland area, with prices to match: the average home price here is higher than in any other city in the Portland metropolitan area. This concentration of wealth and (apparent) respectability also make Lake Oswego a subject of mockery in some quarters: “Lake Big Ego” is one of the more printable derisive nicknames you might hear. “Lake O” certainly has its share of multimillion-dollar waterside homes and well-coifed Ferrari drivers, but it is actually more economically diverse than it appears to outsiders. While it’s not a bargain-hunter’s paradise by any definition, Lake Oswego contains a fair number of reasonably affordable apartments and unassuming single-family houses, especially in the city’s western neighborhoods. The city has 21 neighborhood associations, and every last one of them is dedicated to preserving the quality of life in its own little slice of the city.

Lake Oswego

Lake Oswego centers on a three-and-a-half-mile lake, fed by a canal from the Tualatin River; the lake, officially named Oswego Lake, is managed by the Lake Oswego Corporation (lakecorp.com), an association of lakeshore residents, and is closed to public use. Unauthorized boaters can expect the aquatic equivalent of, “Hey you kids, get off my lawn!” The original settlement was a center for the iron industry—the ruins of the old iron foundry, the oldest on the West Coast, still stand in George Rogers Park on the Willamette River—but the area ultimately evolved into a community of summer cottages (a few of which still stand) on the shores of what was known until 1913 as Sucker Lake (not a great name from a real estate investment standpoint). Development for permanent housing began after the First World War, and accelerated during the suburban boom that followed the Second World War. Today the city is basically built out, with most development occurring as infill or in nearby unincorporated areas.

First Addition

Lake Oswego’s pleasant, small-scale downtown, at the northeast end of the lake, features a selection of upscale shops abutting Millennium Plaza Park, where a farmers’ market (ci.oswego.or.us/farmersmarket/) takes place on Saturdays from mid-May through mid-October. Nearby Lakewood Center for the Arts is home to a theater (and a theater company) and hosts the annual Lake Oswego Festival of the Arts, held in June. The nearby First Addition neighborhood, one of the city’s first residential neighborhoods, features Craftsman bungalows, English Tudor–style cottages, and other quaint prewar-style homes on walkable (but largely sidewalk-less) streets. With its old homes and grid layout, First Addition would be a good choice for people who love the feel of Portland’s Eastside neighborhoods but want to live in the suburbs. The neighborhood abuts the southern end of Tryon Creek State Natural Area.

Some apartments (and apartments that have been converted to condominiums) border Highway 43 and sprawl across the bluffs above the Willamette River or hover above the lake at its eastern end, but most waterfront (and water view) properties are single-family homes. Houses on or near the lakeshore sell at a substantial premium, as do homes along the Willamette River. A few charming old cottages and bungalows, and even some fairly nondescript ranches, remain here from a quieter era; however, many of these have been torn down to make way for enormous fenced-off quasi-mansions (or gated clusters of them). Some of these homes are true architectural gems, while others are notable mainly for their size and obtrusiveness. Homes with views on the wooded bluffs above the lake are somewhat less expensive, but hardly cheap. The quiet neighborhoods in the rolling hills north and south of the lake tend to feature winding streets lined with 1960s- and 1970s-era homes. In very broad terms, neighborhoods south of (and away from) the lake are slightly less expensive than neighborhoods north of the lake.

Lake Grove, and Mountain Park

The western end of Lake Oswego, Lake Grove, has evolved into a major regional commercial center; the Kruse Way area, full of new Class A office space, acts as a satellite of downtown Portland, and Boones Ferry Road is lined with smaller-scale commercial developments, including restaurants and markets. This part of the city has many newer townhouse and apartment communities, together with single-family homes on the quieter side streets. These neighborhoods in general are the most affordable parts of the city for renters and buyers. The hillside Mountain Park neighborhood near Portland Community College’s Sylvania campus features well-kept homes set on culs-de-sac and curving streets. Some homes are ranches or traditional-style homes, but others are custom-designed showpieces, ranging from modern houses clinging to the hillside to remarkable mid-century designs. The streets here seem to be in competition to see which has the most erudite name: Harvard Court and Princeton Court have nothing on Erasmus, Pericles, and Cervantes (which do not even deign to have designations as streets, or roads, or courts), while freedom-fighters gravitate to the heights of Nansen Summit, where Bolivar, Juarez, and Garibaldi frolic. Because the summit is the highest point for miles, homes on the upper slopes have expansive views (the subject of which depends on which direction the house faces). The lower part of the Mountain Park neighborhood has several unobtrusive apartment complexes where many newcomers seem to end up for a while.

Lake Oswego – First Addition

In addition to (or despite) the prestige factor, many people move to Lake Oswego for the excellent public amenities. The city runs a library, various community and senior centers, and many parks and natural areas. Lake Oswego skews old—the median age, like the median home price—is the highest in the region, but its excellent set of public schools is a major draw for families who can afford to live here. Lake Oswego School District (loswego.k12.or.us) operates nine elementary schools, two junior high schools, and two high schools (one recently rebuilt and the other remodeled). Although parts of Lake Oswego have decent bus service, and some neighborhoods have networks of paved walking trails, the city as a whole is quite car-dependent—outside the city center/First Addition area, many city streets are completely unwalkable, let alone bikeable—and the drive to Portland via often pokey Highway 43 or congested Interstate 5, while not the worst commute in the world, can be slow. The same is true for the commute to Washington County via Highway 217. (Although not a viable option for commuters, the Willamette Shore Trolley [oerhs.org/wst] a vintage trolley operated by the Oregon Electric Railway Historical Society, runs along the Willamette River from downtown Lake Oswego to downtown Portland, with a shortened trip during Sellwood Bridge construction.) An actual streetcar from Portland to Lake Oswego was proposed, but plans were official suspended in 2012.

Lake Oswego
Website
ci.oswego.or.us
ZIP Codes
97034, 97035
Post Offices
Lake Oswego Post Office, 501 4th St; Lake Grove Station, 15875 Boones Ferry Rd
Police Station
380 A Ave, 503-635-0238 (non-emergency), ci.oswego.or.us/police
Emergency Hospital
Legacy Meridian Park Medical Center, 19300 SW 65th Ave, Tualatin, 503-692-1212, legacyhealth.org
Library
Lake Oswego Public Library, 706 4th St, 503-636-7628, lakeoswegolibrary.org
Parks
24 developed and undeveloped parks and natural areas, including George Rogers Park, Foothill Park, Waluga Park, and Iron Mountain Park; ci.oswego.or.us/parksrec/
Community Publications
Lake Oswego Review, lakeoswegoreview.com
Public Transportation
TriMet, 503-238-RIDE, trimet.org; several bus lines with semi-frequent service within the city and to and from Portland, Oregon City, Tigard, and Beaverton
West Linn

Boundaries: North: Lake Oswego; West: Tualatin River, unincorporated rural area (Clackamas County); South: Willamette River, Tualatin River; East: Willamette River; Area: 8.1 square miles; Population: 25,800

West Linn is considered one of the most desirable, and is certainly among the most expensive, communities in the Portland area. Newcomers who are considering both cities often pick West Linn in preference to Lake Oswego as being both more down-to-earth and slightly less expensive. For many, the primary draw is the city’s excellent schools—the West Linn–Wilsonville School District (wlwv.k12.or.us) has one of the best reputations (and some of the highest test scores) in the state. Add a relatively low crime rate and an abundance of parkland and natural areas, and the appeal is clear. The city has more than 25 parks and open spaces; most are small, neighborhood parks, with playgrounds and tennis courts, although a few larger parks, such as Wilderness Park and Willamette Park, draw visitors from the whole city. The city also encompasses the large Mary S. Young State Park along the Willamette River and the Nature Conservancy’s Camassia Natural Area, a unique plateau region that was sculpted during ice age floods.

West Linn

The Willamette River makes a great bend around West Linn, and forms the city’s eastern and southern boundary. West Linn’s neighborhoods occupy the mile and a half or so between the river and the crest of the range of hills that parallels the river to the west. Because of the river’s bend, the city is shaped something like a chubby “V,” with the point aimed at Willamette Falls and downtown Oregon City across the river. The northern arm of this V extends northward towards Lake Oswego and the attractive campus of Marylhurst University. Willamette Drive (State Highway 43) is the primary north-south artery here, but it is not a major commercial strip, although it is lined in places by a few nicely landscaped retail businesses, upscale supermarkets like Market of Choice, and small shopping centers. Uphill (west) of Willamette Drive, a few steep streets wind into the hills and lead to compact, rolling neighborhoods of loops and culs-de-sac lined with contemporary and custom multi-story homes. The hills (a southern spur of the Tualatin Mountains) top out at more than five hundred feet above the elevation of the river, so many of these homes have decks with dramatic views of the Cascade Mountains. While luxury homes abound on the heights, there are also a few townhome developments and small-scale condo complexes. Back on the lowlands between Willamette Drive and the river lie neighborhoods of split-levels and well-kept ranches, many with river views or even river access. South of Mary S. Young State Park, in the Bolton neighborhood, there are many older homes—cottages, bungalows, and even a few grand Victorians.

Sunset, and North Willamette

The south half of West Linn is also a mix of old and new. Interstate 205 bisects this part of town, then crosses the river into Oregon City (as does Willamette Drive, on a much less impressive bridge built in 1922). On the bluff above the river, a few old houses, many in disrepair, have views of Willamette Falls as well as paper mills and other industrial facilities. The Sunset neighborhood, between Willamette Drive and the Interstate, features a range of newer and older homes (including some surprisingly shabby structures, and a few apartment buildings). To the west extend large developments of new, generally high-end—and, in some cases, truly enormous—homes. A new shopping center has sprung up to service these new developments, and the city hall relocated here in 1999. The North Willamette neighborhood, on the hills just above Interstate 205, comprises winding streets of newer contemporary and traditional-style homes; some large condo complexes occupy the lower slopes near the freeway. In general, this part of West Linn is the best choice for people looking for brand-new homes.

North Willamette Neighborhood
Willamette

South of the Interstate, where the Tualatin River flows into the Willamette, is the historic Willamette neighborhood; this formerly important river landing features many houses from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Period-appropriate false front facades decorate the commercial buildings—even the new ones—along Willamette Falls Drive, which features a concentration of restaurants, shops, and service providers. This area is the closest thing West Linn has to a traditional downtown. The blocks between here and the riverfront have heavy concentrations of historic homes, but newer homes and apartments have cropped up opportunistically over the years north of Willamette Falls Drive, and these parts of the neighborhood feature a wide range of architectural styles.

Despite its popularity, West Linn is not for everyone. In addition to its fairly high home prices, well above the metro-area median, the city is very car-dependent, and it can be a long and tedious commute to some of the more distant employment centers, whether via Interstate 205 or up Highway 43 to downtown Portland. Some residents complain that there is no real downtown; although there are a few office parks and other businesses near I-205 and along some of the main streets, the city is overwhelmingly residential—some 80% of the city is zoned for that purpose. In case you’re wondering, there is no Linn (or East Linn, for that matter); West Linn got its name in 1854 when its predecessor, Linn City, was renamed.

West Linn
Website
westlinnoregon.gov
ZIP Code
97068
Post Office
Marylhurst Post Office, 17600 Pacific Hwy; West Linn Post Office, 5665 Hood St
Police Station
West Linn Police Department, 22825 Willamette Dr, 503-655-6214 (non-emergency), westlinnpolice.com
Emergency Hospitals
Providence Willamette Falls Hospital, 1500 Division St, Oregon City, 503-656-1631, providence.org Legacy Meridian Park Medical Center, 19300 SW 65th Ave, Tualatin, 503-692-1212, legacyhealth.org
Library
West Linn Public Library, 1595 Burns St, 503-656-7853, westlinn.lib.or.us
Parks
More than 25 parks and natural areas within city limits, including Willamette Park, Wilderness Park, and Mary S. Young State Park; westlinnoregon.gov/parksrec/
Community Publications
West Linn Tidings, westlinntidings.com
Public Transportation
TriMet, 503-238-RIDE, trimet.org; two bus lines with semi-frequent service to Oregon City or Lake Oswego/downtown Portland
Stafford

The unincorporated zone between Lake Oswego, West Linn, Tualatin, and Wilsonville is one of the most scenic parts of the metropolitan area. This region of hills, woods, and fields, generally called Stafford, lies outside the metropolitan urban growth boundary, and so is lightly populated and nominally agricultural. The area’s proximity to Portland—Interstate 205 runs right through Stafford (and features a Stafford exit, just southwest of Wankers Corner)—means that, in practice, most of the properties here are hobby farms. In particular, Stafford is horse country. Most properties are large, multi-acre spreads, and much of that acreage is devoted to horse barns, pastures, and other equestrian facilities. Many homes are situated on ridges, like Petes Mountain, to take advantage of expansive views of the Cascades and the Willamette and Tualatin valleys. Some areas of Stafford feel so sylvan and remote that it is difficult to accept that they’re only half an hour from downtown Portland (in light traffic).

Stafford is likely to remain predominately semi-rural—or more accurately, quasi-rural, since most residents actually make their living in white-collar professions—for the immediate future (barring major changes in land use laws). Nonetheless, some small-scale developments are starting to crop up, such as the 30-odd luxury homes of The Quarry at Stafford (built on the former site of an actual quarry). The Borland area has been designated as urban reserve land, meaning it may eventually be brought inside the urban growth boundary. Stafford is part of the West Linn–Wilsonville School District (wlwv.k12.or.us). Apart from a tiny commercial area at Wankers Corner (hold the snickers—it’s pronounced “Wonkers”), at the intersection of Stafford Road and Borland Road, shopping and services are located primarily in surrounding communities. No public transportation serves the area.

Stafford
Wilsonville

Boundaries: North: Unincorporated Washington County; West: Unincorporated Clackamas County; South: Willamette River (partial), unincorporated Clackamas County; East: Unincorporated Clackamas County; Area: 7.4 square miles; Population: 21,500

The fast-growing suburb of Wilsonville is 17 miles south of Portland via frequently congested Interstate 5, which neatly bisects the city into east and west sides. The northern portion of the city is in Washington County, while most of Wilsonville is part of Clackamas County. Wilsonville historically had more jobs than residents: the city is home to technology companies like Mentor Graphics, Xerox Office Group, and FLIR Systems, as well as to various corporate distribution centers that are located here to take advantage of good freeway access and proximity to Portland. These businesses cluster on either side of the Interstate, especially in the northern part of the city. Major retail developments such as the massive Fry’s Electronics complex and the adjacent Family Fun Center also border I-5, and drivers who never venture off the freeway can be forgiven for thinking that no one actually lives in Wilsonville at all.

Wilsonville

In fact, not only do people live in Wilsonville, but the city has been for many years one of the fastest-growing communities in the metro area, with a 47 percent increase in population between 2000 and 2012. Home prices here are generally higher than in Tigard or Tualatin but lower than West Linn (with which Wilsonville shares a school district). Apartments comprise a relatively high percentage of the city’s housing stock, with a concentration of complexes near Wilsonville Town Center, an agglomeration of decentralized shopping plazas, a park-and-ride lot, and Town Center Park on the east side of Interstate 5. On the edge of this quasi-downtown, Memorial Park slopes down to the banks of the Willamette River and features short climbing walls, an innovative playground, a tennis court, and a boat dock. The new developments to the north and northeast include some “apartment homes” and townhouses along with neighborhoods of very large single-family homes. Almost all of this development is of fairly recent vintage.

West of Interstate 5, beyond the office parks, light industrial facilities, distribution facilities, and the like, extend several quiet neighborhoods of townhomes and two-story, single-family contemporary-style homes, some of which overlook the Willamette. A few of these developments border shady alleys of hazelnut groves, which are almost certainly not long for this world. The big news in Wilsonville housing is the ongoing construction of master-planned community Villebois (villebois.com). Billing itself as “drawing inspiration from a compact French urban village,” this walkable, mixed-use development includes hundreds of “green-built” residences in various traditional styles, arranged around a central park and village center. Villebois, which includes five different homeowner associations, associated with separate developers, is still being built out, and it may be a good choice for people looking to buy a new home in a planned community. The Wilsonville Farmers’ Market (wilsonvillemarket.com), which runs Thursdays from mid-June to mid-September, takes place in a park within Villebois. Residents tend to like the development, but it is a bit out of the way, and is isolated not just from surrounding communities but from the rest of Wilsonville itself.

Wilsonville
Charbonneau District

Across the Willamette, the Charbonneau District centers on a golf course, surrounded by one- and two-story contemporary houses, condos, and apartment complexes set amid trees, fountains, lakes, and—of course—fairways. (Fore!) The district contains a small village center with basic services; a few pathways link the disparate parts of the neighborhood, but most people walk heedlessly in the middle of the streets, which lack sidewalks and fortunately have light traffic. Charbonneau’s only link with the rest of Wilsonville is Interstate 5’s Boone Bridge over the Willamette; the city has proposed building a new foot/bike bridge between Charbonneau and Memorial Park, but no firm plans are in place.

Charbonneau District

Wilsonville likes to think of itself as a family-friendly city, and about one-quarter of the city’s residents are under 18. The highly regarded West Linn–Wilsonville School District (wlwv.k12.or.us), which covers most of the city, is a major draw for many parents. Students from the Charbonneau area attend schools in the Canby School District (canby.k12.or.us). Despite the abundance of jobs within the city limits, most residents don’t actually work in the city, so traffic can be heavy in either direction during rush hour. The Boone Bridge over the Willamette River at Wilsonville is the only road bridge that crosses the river between Newberg and West Linn, and so it is a frequent traffic chokepoint. For some reason, Wilsonville is also the site of many accidents and traffic backups on Interstate 5. The city has its own public transit agency, South Metro Area Regional Transit (SMART; 503-682-7790, ridesmart.com), which provides bus service within Wilsonville and between the city and Portland, Salem, Tualatin, and Canby. TriMet’s WES commuter rail service carries commuters to Wilsonville from Beaverton, via Tualatin and Tigard (and vice versa) during peak hours only; SMART buses connect with trains to carry commuters to and from the city’s major employers.

Website
ci.wilsonville.or.us
ZIP Code
97070
Post Office
Wilsonville Post Office, 29333 SW Town Center Loop E
Police Station
Wilsonville Station, Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office, 30000 SW Town Center Loop E, 503-682-1012 (non-emergency)
Emergency Hospital
Legacy Meridian Park Medical Center, 19300 SW 65th Ave, Tualatin, 503-692-1212, legacyhealth.org
Library
Wilsonville Public Library, 8200 SW Wilsonville Rd, 503-682-2744, wilsonvillelibrary.org
Parks
12 parks, trails, and natural areas, including Memorial Park, Town Center Park, and Graham Oaks Natural Area
Community Publications
Wilsonville Spokesman, wilsonvillespokesman.com
Public Transportation
South Metro Area Regional Transit (SMART; 503-682-7790, ridesmart.com) runs several free bus lines within the city, and operates commuter buses to Portland, Tualatin, Canby, and Salem; rush-hour commuter rail service (WES) to Tualatin, Tigard, and Beaverton

Clackamas County—Southern Suburbs

North-central Clackamas County—the suburban expanse east of the Willamette River and south of the city of Portland—contains the county’s oldest communities and much of its existing population. This is one of the more affordable parts of the Portland area, but has more amenities than some other lower-cost suburbs.

Milwaukie

Boundaries: North: Southeast Portland; West: Willamette River; South: Oak Grove, Oatfield (unincorporated Clackamas County); East: Clackamas (unincorporated Clackamas County); Area: 4.8 square miles; Population: 20,700

Founded in 1847, Milwaukie—home of the Bing cherry, but billing itself as the Dogwood City of the West—was named after Milwaukee, Wisconsin (which later changed the spelling of its name, leaving its Oregon namesake with the original “ie” ending). For many years, Milwaukie was a fairly nondescript, under-the-radar suburb. Despite its proximity to Portland, Milwaukie did not experience the growth in population (and housing prices) that occurred in other area communities during the last two decades. However, due to its close-in location (and spillover from the adjoining popular Sellwood and Westmoreland neighborhoods in Portland), the city’s real estate market posted some of the largest gains in housing prices in the Portland area in the last years of the bubble, and housing prices fell hard in the ensuing crash. As of press time, Milwaukie housing prices are still well below their peak at the height of the bubble, and the median home price is one of the lowest in the metro area. At the same time, Milwaukie has good bones and plenty of community spirit; it is often overlooked as a relocation option, but it may be a smart choice for some newcomers. The city has a stock of single-family homes with large lots, and it has good road and transit connections to downtown Portland and the city’s entire East Side.

Milwaukie

A swath of railroad tracks and associated industrial facilities splits the city into two halves. (Noise from train whistles bothers some residents.) On the west side of the tracks, Milwaukie’s small downtown (celebratemilwaukie.com) is changing, as new shops and service businesses join the old-line establishments, and row houses and apartment buildings spring up near the cute red brick city hall and Scott Park, where outdoor concerts are held in the summer. Downtown Milwaukie is something of a mecca for comic book fans, thanks to the presence of Dark Horse Comics (darkhorse.com) in an unassuming building on Main Street. One of the most vibrant farmers’ markets in the Portland area takes place on Sundays during the summer (milwaukiefarmersmarket.com). Riverfront Park provides access to the Willamette, and hosts the Riverfest festival in July. The neighborhoods near downtown have a high concentration of older homes, with some apartment buildings and townhomes in the mix. The new Orange Line MAX light rail line will include stations at the north end and south end of downtown Milwaukie, and extensive commercial and residential development is likely to occur within walking distance of those stations.

Busy McLoughlin Boulevard cuts off downtown Milwaukie from the Willamette, but two nearby neighborhoods do border the river. To the north, large traditional-style homes—in some cases, bona fide mansions—line the narrow, winding streets around the private Waverly Country Club. Just south of downtown, the compact Island Station neighborhood features smaller, generally older homes that overlook (or are a short walk from) the river. Undeveloped Elk Rock Island is usually accessible by foot except during high water in winter and spring.

Milwaukie’s east side is largely given over to modest single-family homes, mostly ranches, Cape Cods, and older cottages, with a few newer two-story homes and 19th-century farmhouses to spice up the mix. There are a few small commercial areas, as well as some clusters of bungalows in neighborhoods where the old streetcar lines used to run. Some new infill development is occurring along the city’s far eastern fringe, where average lot sizes are larger. In addition, the northeastern portion of the city features popular North Clackamas Aquatic Park, a large indoor facility run by the local Parks & Recreation District (ncprd.com/aquatic-park). If you are considering property near Johnson Creek, be aware that the creek is subject to flooding. Some parts of Milwaukie have a relatively high property crime rate.

Milwaukie

The new light rail line from downtown Portland to Milwaukie is scheduled to open in late 2015. In the meantime, bus service is decent to excellent throughout much of the city. Milwaukie is part of the North Clackamas School District (nclack.k12.or.us), the sixth largest in the state; the city has several elementary schools and its own middle and high schools. Several private schools, including the Portland Waldorf School, are also located here.

Website
milwaukieoregon.gov
ZIP Codes
97222, 97267
Post Office
Milwaukie Post Office, 11222 SE Main St
Police Station
Milwaukie Police Department, 3200 SE Harrison St, 503-786-7400 (non-emergency)
Emergency Hospital
Providence Milwaukie Hospital, 10150 SE 32nd Ave, Milwaukie, 503-513-8300, providence.org
Library
Ledding Library, 10660 SE 21st St, 503-786-7580, milwaukieoregon.gov/library
Parks
Riverfront Park, Scott Park, and several other small parks maintained by the city; North Clackamas Central Park, Spring Park, and a few others are part of the North Clackamas Parks & Recreation District, ncprd.com
Community Publications
Clackamas Review, clackamasreview.com
Public Transportation
TriMet, 503-238-RIDE, trimet.org; multiple bus lines, with frequent service from Milwaukie Transit Center to Portland and Oregon City; MAX line under construction
Oak Grove, Jennings Lodge, and Oatfield

Boundaries: North: Milwaukie; West: Willamette River; South: Gladstone; East: Clackamas (unincorporated Clackamas County); Area: 10 square miles; Population: Approximately 38,000

Oak Grove

McLoughlin Boulevard (Highway 99E) achieves full strip mall glory in the expanse of unincorporated Clackamas County between Milwaukie and Gladstone. As you tool down the highway, it’s easy to miss the quiet middle-class neighborhoods that extend to either side. To the west, between the highway and the Willamette River, lies the community of Oak Grove. Oak Grove developed along the trolley line that ran along what is now Arista Drive from 1893 until the 1950s, and the area contains a variety of homes of various ages, most on relatively large lots. The old trolley right-of-way has been converted into a six-mile bike and pedestrian trail.) River Road parallels McLoughlin to the west; the former is a much quieter and more pleasant thoroughfare than the latter, and is lined by homes and a few apartment buildings.

Oak Grove

The bulk of Oak Grove’s housing stock consists of fairly modest postwar Cape Cods, ranches, and related architectural styles, but some prewar homes survive near the trolley line, and larger contemporary and custom homes crop up near the Willamette River. A few homes on the river itself are lavish affairs, with boathouses and private docks, but on the whole Oak Grove lacks the outright mansions that line parts of the Willamette’s west bank. The neighborhood has lots of trees and several parks; there are few sidewalks, but there’s not much traffic off the main roads. Away from McLoughlin, there are relatively few commercial establishments. (The old commercial center of the community, on Oak Grove Boulevard, is mostly defunct.) Oak Grove will be the southern terminus of a new light rail line from downtown Portland, scheduled to open in the fall of 2015. Denser development, at least along McLoughlin (which the light rail line follows), seems likely, and some residents are afraid that the coming of the train will bring crime and alter the pleasant, quiet character of their neighborhood.

Jennings Lodge

To the south, Jennings Lodge has a housing mix similar to Oak Grove, but with a greater proportion of bungalows and old farmhouses. River Road and McLoughlin begin to converge in Jennings Lodge, and the neighborhoods between become increasingly less insulated as one proceeds south.

Oatfield, and Johnson City

East of McLoughlin Boulevard, the Oatfield neighborhood is draped over a ridge that runs parallel to the highway. (Oatfield was not named for any former agricultural land use, but rather for the Oatfields, a prominent pioneer family.) This area generally has newer and often larger homes than the neighborhoods west of McLoughlin; many homes along the ridge have views of the Willamette or the Cascades. East of Oatfield Road, some subdivisions feature split-levels and contemporary-style homes on winding culs-de-sac, a street feature not found in Oak Grove. Oatfield in general is somewhat more affluent than Oak Grove and Jennings Lodge, and housing prices are consequently slightly higher on average. The tiny enclave of Johnson City is an incorporated city composed entirely of a single mobile home park.

Oatfield

These neighborhoods have so far resisted periodic annexation attempts (we’re looking at you, Milwaukie and Gladstone) and homegrown incorporation efforts. For now, the county provides the services that do exist—the area is part of the North Clackamas Parks and Recreation District, for example—but these three communities have their own water utility, the Oak Lodge Water District (oaklodgewater.org). (Get it? Oak Lodge serves Oak Grove and Jennings Lodge.) Oak Grove and the northern part of Oatfield are part of the North Clackamas School District (nclack.k12.or.us), while Jennings Lodge and the southern part of Oatfield belong to the Oregon City School District (orecity.k12.or.us). Considering its low density and absence of much in the way of regional destinations, the area has relatively good transit service: buses between Oregon City and Milwaukie run along River Road and Oatfield Road, and there is frequent bus service along McLoughlin Boulevard to downtown Portland. Some of these bus lines will likely terminate at the MAX station once the light rail line to downtown Portland opens.

Website
clackamas.us
ZIP Codes
97222, 97267
Post Office
Oak Grove Post Office, 3860 SE Naef St
Police Station
Oak Lodge Sub-Station, Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office, 2930 SE Oak Grove Blvd, 503-655-8211 (non-emergency)
Emergency Hospitals
Providence Milwaukie Hospital, 10150 SE 32nd Ave, Milwaukie, 503-513-8300, providence.org; Providence Willamette Falls Hospital, 1500 Division St, Oregon City, 503-656-1631, providence.org
Library
Oak Lodge Library, 16201 SE McLoughlin Blvd, 503-655-8543, clackamas.us/lib/
Parks
North Clackamas Parks & Recreation District, ncprd.com
Community Publications
Clackamas Review, clackamasreview.com
Public Transportation
TriMet, 503-238-RIDE, trimet.org; light rail from Oak Grove to Milwaukie and Portland (beginning fall 2015); bus service to Portland, Milwaukie, and Oregon City
Gladstone

Boundaries: North: Jennings Lodge, Oatfield (unincorporated Clackamas County); West: Willamette River; South: Clackamas River; East: Clackamas River; Area: 2.5 square miles; Population: 12,200

Gladstone is well-known for the parade of car dealerships along McLoughlin Boulevard, but once you get away from the guys in bad ties asking what it would take to get you into a vehicle today, the city has a different vibe. Gladstone was founded at the strategic confluence of the Willamette and Clackamas rivers; surrounded by water on three sides, it has a languid, small-town ambiance. This area was a gathering place of the original native inhabitants; a large maple known as the Pow-Wow Tree, which still stands on West Clackamas Boulevard near the north bank of the Clackamas River, was ostensibly a meeting spot for local tribes. Today, the river banks are equally popular with local anglers; Meldrum Bar Park, on the Willamette just downstream from the mouth of the Clackamas, is an especially esteemed spot for fishing.

Gladstone

Gladstone’s extremely modest downtown, which manages to support a few stores and eateries and the beautifully restored Flying A Gasoline Station (which no longer sells gas), is laid out in a strict grid north of the Clackamas River. Gladstone developed early, thanks to its proximity to Oregon City and the existence of a streetcar line from Portland, and for many years the city was the site of a popular Chautauqua, a sort of educational entertainment one-two punch that was popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. (Gladstone’s Chautauqua closed in 1927, but the city still holds a festival by that name each summer.) Older houses from the city’s early days perch on a bluff above the Clackamas River and line the streets for several blocks inland, mixed with opportunistically placed postwar homes. The riverfront area also has a few parks, including High Rocks Park (a favorite spot for swimming and notorious for occasional drownings).

Away from the river and north of downtown, a high ridge looms, and the city streets abandon the grid pattern as they wind uphill. Culs-de-sac lined with ranches, spacious split-levels and contemporaries occupy the slopes; near the top of the ridge, 1970s-era contemporary homes border the winding streets of Ridgegate and other woody, established neighborhoods. Some of these homes have expansive views of the Willamette and West Hills or of Mount Hood and the Cascades. Prices here are below the metro-area average, and on a per-square-foot basis represent some of the best values in the region.

Gladstone has its own school district (gladstone.k12.or.us), with one elementary, one middle, and one high school. Gladstone is not particularly close to major centers of employment, but neither is it ridiculously far away; various transportation options are available for northbound commuters, but only two road bridges cross the Clackamas River to the south and none cross the Willamette between Oregon City and the Sellwood Bridge in Portland. (Westbound commuters headed for Washington County or Wilsonville generally take Interstate 205, which runs through the eastern end of the city.)

Website
ci.gladstone.or.us
ZIP Code
97027
Post Office
Gladstone Post Office, 605 Portland Ave
Police Station
Gladstone Police Department, 535 Portland Ave, 503-655-8211 (non-emergency)
Emergency Hospital
Providence Willamette Falls Hospital, 1500 Division St, Oregon City, 503-656-1631, providence.org
Library
Gladstone Public Library, 135 E Dartmouth St, 503-656-2411, gladstonepubliclibrary.wordpress.com
Parks
Eight parks, including Meldrum Bar Park, High Rocks Park, and Max Patterson Memorial Park
Community Publications
Oregon City News, oregoncitynewsonline.com
Public Transportation
TriMet, 503-238-RIDE, trimet.org; multiple bus lines, with service to Portland, Milwaukie, Oregon City, and Clackamas
Oregon City

Boundaries: North: Clackamas River; West: Willamette River; South: Unincorporated Clackamas County; East: Unincorporated Clackamas County; Area: 9.3 square miles; Population: 34,800

Historic Oregon City—the end of the Oregon Trail, first capital of the old Oregon Territory, oldest incorporated city in the western United States, home of the first American newspaper printed west of the Rockies (The Spectator), and terminus of America’s first long-distance electricity transmission line (1889)—fell on hard times in recent years and is trying mightily to rise again. Until recently, the city has had trouble funding basic services like police and fire protection, but the Oregon City’s old downtown is undergoing a remarkable renaissance and many neighborhoods are being spruced up. For people who are looking for an historic or quiet suburban community and don’t mind things being a bit rough around the edges, Oregon City might be a good choice. Home prices are rising here, but are still below the metro area average.

Oregon City’s downtown occupies a narrow strip of level land on the Willamette River just downstream from Willamette Falls. The area near the falls was an important fishing ground for Native Americans, and it became the site of Oregon’s first European settlement in 1829. By the 1840s, Oregon City had become a bustling town, and it was incorporated in 1844. When the Oregon Territory was created four years later, Oregon City became the capital. (That honor was transferred to Salem in 1852.) Willamette Falls fueled the city’s initial industrial growth—the falling water powered lumber mills and flour mills especially—and to this day Oregon City has a palpable industrial feel. The defunct Blue Heron paper mill still stands at the south end of town, just below the falls, and the overall scene is reminiscent of an old New England mill town.

Oregon City

Oregon City is the seat of Clackamas County, and a few county government offices (including the courthouse) are still located in Oregon City’s historic downtown, along with a variety of small shops, bars, restaurants, and other businesses. Although a few vacant storefronts remain, the downtown area is evolving into a more vibrant place, as new businesses inject fresh life into the district. Downtown Oregon City huddles at the foot of a near-vertical bluff, and one of the city’s stranger sights is the Municipal Elevator, which resembles a flying saucer on a thick pillar. The elevator carries pedestrians up and down the face of the 90-foot bluff between the business district and literally named High Street at the clifftop.

The McLoughlin Historic District spreads for blocks across the relatively flat plateau at the top of the bluff. This area contains many lovingly restored houses from the 19th and early 20th centuries, an era when this neighborhood was Oregon City’s most fashionable residential area. Although somewhat less fashionable today, it is easily the city’s most distinctive (and to many observers, most attractive) neighborhood. Some of these historic houses still await loving attention. A few of the houses here have expansive views, but unfortunately a handful of nondescript 1950s- and 1960s-era commercial buildings occupy most of the view property at the brink of the bluff. Shops and restaurants border parts of Seventh Street, which runs through the heart of the district and is the commercial center for the neighborhood; the city hall, a repurposed Depression-era medical building, is also located here. Several of the historic houses, some of which date back to the 1840s, are open to the public.

Oregon City

In the southeast section of the historic district, Seventh Street (and the landscape as a whole) rises steeply to another relatively flat terrace, which stretches away toward the Clackamas County hinterlands. Here Seventh Street becomes Molalla Avenue and heads southward, flanked by supermarkets and shopping plazas. A diverse mix of newer subdivisions, old farmhouses, mobile home parks, ranch houses on culs-de-sac, apartments, and retirement communities sprawls across the this plateau. The library and police station are also located here, just off Molalla Avenue on Warner Milne Road; county offices are nearby, and one of the city’s three farmers’ markets (orcityfarmersmarket.com) takes place here on Saturdays from May to October. The outlying neighborhoods to the south and east feature predominantly newer homes, and a few brand-new new residential and commercial developments have risen on the fringes of the city. Some of these developments offer fine views of the Cascades. Clackamas Community College is in the city’s far southeastern corner.

Back along the river, the Canemah Historic District clings to the steep slopes overlooking the Willamette just upstream from the falls. The neighborhood was once a bustling town, separate from Oregon City, and prospered as a place of portage around the falls. Today, it is eerily quiet, and is comprised of some historic homes, some new townhomes and single-family homes (generally built in a neo-traditional style), and some small ranch houses. Many of these homes have river views, while others are tucked back into dark hollows. Some barely improved roads lead to the neighborhood, which includes a pioneer cemetery dating from the 1830s, and the area is easy to miss.

Canemah Historic District

Interstate 205 crosses the Willamette north of downtown Oregon City; some industrial facilities border the freeway, and the low-density Park Place neighborhood lies to the east. A large, upscale mixed-use development planned for the Clackamette Cove area—which sounds like the noise a waterfowl would make, but denotes the confluence of the Clackamas and Willamette Rivers—has been on-again, off-again for years, but currently seems to be moving forward. A park at the confluence itself includes a popular boat ramp.

Despite Oregon City’s woes, the overall crime rate is not shockingly high. Still, some neighborhoods are plagued by drug dealing and property crime, so try to avoid choosing a residence sight-unseen. The Oregon City School District (orecity.k12.or.us) serves Oregon City and much of the outlying unincorporated area. Oregon City has decent transportation connections to the rest of the metropolitan area, both by car and by public transit. Amtrak’s Cascades trains also stop here on their runs between Portland and Salem.

Website
orcity.org
ZIP Code
97045
Post Office
Oregon City Post Office, 19300 Molalla Ave
Police Station
Oregon City Police Department, 320 Warner Milne Rd, 503-657-4964 (non-emergency), orcity.org/police
Emergency Hospital
Providence Willamette Falls Hospital, 1500 Division St, Oregon City, 503-656-1631, providence.org
Library
Oregon City Public Library, 606 John Adams St, 503-657-8269, orcity.org/library
Parks
More than 20 parks and trails, including Clackamette Park, Singer Creek Park, and McLoughlin Promenade; orcity.orgparksandrecreation
Community Publications
Oregon City News, oregoncitynewsonline.com
Public Transportation
TriMet, 503-238-RIDE, trimet.org; multiple bus lines within city to Oregon City Transit Center, and service between Oregon City and West Linn, Portland, Milwaukie, Lake Oswego, and Clackamas; service to Canby via Canby Area Transit (503-266-4022), and service to Molalla via South Clackamas Transportation District (503-632-7000, southclackamastransportation.com).
Canby

This center of the nursery industry—for plants, not babies—feels smaller and more isolated than it actually is. With a population of more than 15,000, Canby is no longer a small town, but the surrounding farmland helps the city maintain a countrified veneer. Indeed, Canby also houses the extensive Clackamas County Fairgrounds, home to the annual Clackamas County Fair and Rodeo.

Canby

The lack of a direct road connection across the Willamette to the southern part of the metropolitan area increases the city’s sense of isolation; the rustic Canby Ferry, just north of town, is one of the last public ferries across the Willamette. In truth, while it’s not exactly centrally located, Canby is only about 15 minutes from the bona fide suburbia of Oregon City, West Linn, and Wilsonville, and busy Highway 99E cuts right through town.

Barlow

The city attracts a diverse set of newcomers, including many professionals who work in the south metro but want to live in a small, quiet city in the sticks. The surprisingly extensive downtown, just north of the railroad tracks and the highway, has a few restaurants and shops, a public library, and a cute red brick city hall. The adjacent neighborhoods have some lovely older homes that date from an era when Canby really was a small town. The rest of the city has homes in a variety of postwar styles, including some new subdivisions; houses on acreage lurk just outside the city limits. If you’re looking for a truly small town, the neighboring city of Barlow, incorporated in 1903, has fewer than 150 residents.

Canby has its own school district (canby.k12.or.us) and its own transit agency, Canby Area Transit (503-266-4022), which provides bus service between Canby and Oregon City, Wilsonville, and Woodburn, as well as free bus service within Canby city limits.

Website
ci.canby.or.us

Clackamas County—Southeastern Suburbs

The stretch of northern Clackamas County from Milwaukie east to Damascus was once a mostly rural landscape. By the 1980s, urban development filled much of the region east to Interstate 205; development slowly began to spill into the areas beyond, and by the late 1990s areas like Sunnyside and Happy Valley were experiencing tremendous growth. This area, along with the new city of Damascus, is expected to continue to grow rapidly over the next two decades. Unfortunately, improvements in infrastructure have lagged behind population growth, and these areas are struggling to cope with crowded roads and classrooms. In contrast, much of the eastern part of this region is still semi-rural. Numerous newcomers select this part of Clackamas County because there are many new homes, and the area offers reasonably easy access both to Portland and to the Mount Hood region.

Clackamas
Clackamas and Sunnyside
Clackamas

The unincorporated area known as Clackamas sits between Happy Valley and Milwaukie south of the Portland city limits. This area has no fixed boundaries that are popularly accepted (as opposed to census-designated), but “Clackamas” is generally understood to refer to the neighborhoods that extend along either side of Southeast 82nd Avenue in northern Clackamas County. The area is a mix of residential, commercial, and light industrial uses; 82nd Avenue itself is a long strip mall of questionable aesthetics.

Clackamas

Clackamas Town Center and neighboring Clackamas Promenade, at the intersection of 82nd Avenue and Sunnyside Road, is the retail and geographical heart of the area.

Residences in the Clackamas area run the gamut from squalid to luxurious. Low-rise apartment buildings and townhome complexes are abundant, and these often lie in close proximity to shopping plazas and other commercial facilities. Most single-family homes are solidly middle-class, although there are also some truly dilapidated affairs here; the neighborhoods west of 82nd Avenue are among the most affordable in the metropolitan area, but some pockets are plagued by crime problems.

The most expensive and desirable homes in the Clackamas area are located on Mount Scott, just east of Clackamas Town Center across Interstate 205. A warren of culs-de-sac and winding streets covers the lower slopes of this prominent hill; contemporary, custom, and neo-traditional homes, with a few stranded ranches and prewar homes, can all be found here. The neighborhood has lots of tiny wooded greenspaces, and many homes have good views west and north across the city to downtown Portland and the West Hills. Homes that are higher up are generally newer and larger; some of the largest houses are actually visible from downtown Portland, especially in late afternoon when their picture windows reflect the westering sun. Near the summit, with its cluster of antennas, stand a few brand-new, high-end homes with panoramic views east to Mount Hood.

Sunnyside

Sunnyside (not to be confused with the neighborhood of the same name in the Hawthorne District of Portland) is a nearby unincorporated area; it extends along and to the south of Sunnyside Road, east of Clackamas Town Center and south of Happy Valley. There are some tidy older subdivisions in this area, but most housing here is quite new, in a range of styles and sizes from townhomes and apartment complexes to hulking three-story luxury homes with Mount Hood views. A few shopping plazas line Sunnyside Road. Forested Mount Talbert Nature Park, on a volcanic butte on the west side of the community, provides a large area of open space.

Sunnyside

Parts of both Clackamas and Sunnyside are being selectively annexed by the city of Happy Valley, and the result is a discontinuous patchwork of incorporated and unincorporated areas. Although it is not centrally located, the entire Clackamas area is well-connected to the rest of the metropolitan area. Interstate 205 provides access to the southern suburbs and to Northeast Portland, while the Milwaukie Expressway (Highway 224) runs toward downtown Portland. TriMet buses cover most of the Clackamas area (although not up Mount Scott) and connect Clackamas to downtown Portland and to most destinations on the east side, and a light rail line runs along I-205 to Clackamas Town Center.

Clackamas County agencies provide most public services in this area. The North Clackamas Park District manages local parks and public recreational facilities, including the popular North Clackamas Aquatic Park, which includes an indoor wave pool and diving well. North Clackamas School District (nclack.k12.or.us) provides public education.

Website
clackamas.us
Happy Valley

Boundaries: North: Portland; Gresham; unincorporated Multnomah County; West: Clackamas (unincorporated Clackamas County); South: Sunnyside (unincorporated Clackamas County); East: Damascus, unincorporated rural Clackamas County; Area: 8.3 square miles; Population: 16,500

If a high income alone can buy contentment, then Happy Valley is aptly named: the average household income is the highest of any city in the metro area, including Lake Oswego. At the same time, Happy Valley is one of the fastest-growing cities in Oregon, with new construction visible almost everywhere. In addition to growth through an influx of new residents, the city is expanding by annexing surrounding areas, and the city limits are weirdly discontinuous. (Happy Valley and Damascus recently reached an agreement about which unincorporated areas each city is entitled to gobble up.)

Happy Valley

To the extent it has a center at all, Happy Valley is indeed centered in a valley along Mount Scott Creek, between Mount Scott on the west and Scouters Mountain on the east. The valley was once forestland and farmland, with a few houses on the valley bottom. The scene is very different today. Massive developments of large new homes sprawl up every hillside; styles range from “Northwest Lodge” to McMansions with giant entry arches and soaring great rooms, along with some basic, fairly nondescript (but still quite spacious) houses. Hillside (and especially hilltop) homes tend to be the largest and to command the highest prices. An eastward view is particularly coveted; because of Happy Valley’s position closer to the Cascades, Mount Hood looms much larger from here than from Portland’s West Hills. A few dazed-looking bungalows and ranches, the survivors of the original rural community, remain standing near Mount Scott Creek and along 147th Avenue, but the city’s population has tripled in the last decade and virtually every structure here is less than 20 years old.

If Lake Oswego is the East Coast–style affluent suburb, Happy Valley is instant community, sunbelt-style, and as in parts of the sunbelt the real estate boom resulted in unsustainable real estate price increases. Parts of the city saw a wave of foreclosures after the bubble burst, but those unhappy times are largely in the past.

The city has a fair number of parks and open spaces amid the sea of housing; there is not much commercial activity in the heart of the city itself, but the shopping plazas of Sunnyside Road and the Clackamas area are a short drive away. Several retail centers have opened on Sunnyside in the southeast part of Happy Valley. The city is part of the North Clackamas School District (nclack.k12.or.us). A TriMet bus line runs along Sunnyside, and another provides service within Happy Valley and between Happy Valley and Clackamas Town Center, but the city is generally quite car-dependent.

Website
ci.happy-valley.or.us
ZIP Code
97086
Post Office
Clackamas Post Office, 9009 SE Adams St, Clackamas
Police Station
Clackamas County Sheriff, Happy Valley Community Policing Center, 12915 SE King Rd, 503-760-0123 (non-emergency)
Emergency Hospital
Kaiser Permanente Sunnyside Medical Center, 10180 SE Sunnyside Rd, Clackamas, 503-652-2880
Library
Sunnyside Library, 13793 SE Sieber Park Way, clackamas.us/lib
Parks
Happy Valley Park, Happy Valley Nature Park, and several open spaces; North Clackamas Parks & Recreation District, ncprd.com
Community Publications
Clackamas Review, clackamasreview.com
Public Transportation
TriMet, 503-238-RIDE, trimet.org; limited bus service to Clackamas Town Center
Damascus

A conversion will take place on the road to Damascus. In this case, there is no religious aspect; rather, fields will be converted to subdivisions on Sunnyside, Foster Road, Highway 212, and other roads to Damascus. Though it still looks mostly rural, make no mistake: Damascus is primed for radical change. (That’s bucolic Damascus, Oregon, by the way, not its somewhat less bucolic namesake in Syria.) Metro’s 2002 expansion of the urban growth boundary included Damascus, and a minor land rush is occurring in this semi-rural landscape of fields, berry farms, and modest country houses. Much of the region’s growth in the next two decades is anticipated to occur here, and the area incorporated in 2004 to help deal with the anticipated population explosion. Since then the city has struggled to complete a comprehensive plan, and the city has been embroiled in waves of controversy and political infighting, including a vote to disincorporate and a fight over deannexation. Residential growth along existing thoroughfares is expected to begin as soon as water and sewer service is in place, although it will take many years to develop and finance infrastructure for the entire city, especially given the dysfunction in municipal government. For now, development is basically limited to parcels of one acre or more (i.e., parcels large enough for septic systems), although some denser development has occurred in the Carver area along Highway 224 where water and sewer lines already exist.. At the moment, the city offers a beautiful landscape, but a rather unhappy combination of relatively high taxes but few services.

As the area grows, transportation is likely to become a major issue; existing roads cannot handle projected traffic volumes. The first phase of the Sunrise Corridor freeway project linking Damascus to Interstate 205, and bypassing Highway 212, is under construction. TriMet buses run to the neighboring communities of Happy Valley and Estacada. The city is part of the Gresham-Barlow School District (gresham.k12.or.us), and has its own elementary and middle schools.

Website
ci.damascus.or.us

Outer Clackamas County

The outlying communities of Clackamas County lie in lovely rolling countryside at the western foot of the Cascade Mountains. Some homes here stand atop rises with views of Mount Hood or the Willamette Valley, others are tucked down into mossy forested hollows, and still others are part of subdivisions that wouldn’t look out of place in a close-in suburb, but which invariably are just a short distance from the farm fields and forest land that still dominate the landscape. Generally speaking, these communities are popular with people who are looking for a rural or small-town environment within striking range of a large city, and with easy access to the abundant recreational opportunities in the nearby mountains. Commuting can be a major chore or worse if you work in downtown Portland or Washington County, but is quite doable if your job is in the eastern fringes of the metro area (e.g., Gresham or Oregon City).

Boring

Boring, which was named for early settler W. H. Boring and not for its lack of diversions, is a small, rural community set amid plant nurseries southeast of Gresham. The small town center at the intersection of Southeast 282nd Avenue and Highway 212 includes the Boring-Damascus Grange, which dates from 1896. The Boring farmers’ market, held on summer Saturdays, is possibly the only one in Oregon to bill itself as “equine-friendly.” Boring children attend Oregon Trail School District schools (oregontrailschools.com). (The school district is unlikely to adopt that phrase as its slogan.) Boring has very limited commuter bus service to Gresham; it is, however, favorably situated for hardy long-distance bike commuters at the end of the Springwater Trail Corridor that runs all the way to the Willamette River in Southeast Portland. Residents have a sense of humor about the name: Boring became paired (a sort of sister city relationship) with Dull, Scotland.

Sandy

A few miles to the southeast, Sandy (ci.sandy.or.us) is well known to Portlanders as a pit stop for cheap gas, ski rentals, and doughnuts on the way to Mount Hood. It is also a growing, bustling small city of nearly 10,000 people, with its own urban growth boundary, public transit system, and school district (Oregon Trail School District, oregontrailschools.com). Mount Hood Highway (US 26) is the main drag through town; the lower end is lined with supermarkets and shopping plazas, but the highway divides and traffic slows when the road reaches the city’s linear downtown area. Sandy offers a mix of housing, from 1950s-era ranches, apartment complexes, and brand-new luxury homes in Sandy proper to rural homes on acreage in the countryside nearby. Homes outside of town are sited in diverse settings, ranging from shady forest dells to hilltop pastures with views north to Mount St. Helens and east to Mount Hood. The surrounding area is dominated by plant nurseries, berry farms, and even a winery; to the east, toward Mount Hood, the land quickly transitions to forest. Sandy is the closest city to Mount Hood, and many residents are avid snowsport devotees. Sandy Area Metro buses (503-668-3466) connect Sandy to Gresham and Estacada.

Estacada

About 10 miles south of Boring and Sandy, Estacada (cityofestacada.org) stands on the bank of the Clackamas River. From Highway 224, which wends its way up the Clackamas River Valley into the Cascades, Estacada doesn’t look terribly attractive—the strip of businesses along the highway is definitely not the city’s best face—but the small, old-fashioned downtown behind it is pleasant enough. Most of the city’s houses stand on the hill behind downtown or are scattered in the forested areas nearby. Estacada’s economy has traditionally been timber-dependent, and the city has not grown as quickly as some closer-in communities have. Although a boom in large homes on big plots of land outside town has caused average home prices in the area to rise significantly, Estacada is among the most affordable communities in the region. Estacada has its own school district (esd108.org), which serves a huge area of rural Clackamas County, including much of the Mount Hood National Forest. The Clackamas River offers abundant opportunities for fishing and boating, and Highway 224 leads deep into the heart of the Cascades. Although Estacada is decidedly outside the metropolitan area proper, a TriMet bus line runs between the city and Portland on weekdays.

Colton

Over the river and through the woods, truly rural Colton is enveloped in the lush foothills along Highway 211 southwest of Estacada. This is working timber country, complete with clearcuts and log trucks, as well as an abundance of Christmas tree farms, and the area has so far avoided an inrush of yuppies. Amenities are pretty much limited to a store and a restaurant at the crossroads. Colton has its own tiny school district (colton.k12.or.us), with an elementary school, a middle school, and a high school.

Molalla, and Mulino

Heading back toward the lowlands, the much larger community of Molalla (cityofmolalla.com) is also a lumber town, but its economy is slowly diversifying and the town is attracting more residents who commute to the Portland and Salem metro areas. Molalla has a very scenic setting on a rolling site where the Cascade foothills (and their supplies of timber) meet the Willamette Valley. The comparatively large, bustling downtown offers a bonanza of businesses: hardware stores, restaurants, banks, and more. The city’s generally well-kept homes include dwellings in old, newer, and newest styles. The city is regionally known for the Molalla Buckeroo Rodeo (molallabuckeroo.com), held each July at the rodeo grounds at the east end of town. Molalla has its own transit system, the South Clackamas Transit District (503-632-7000, southclackamastransportation.com), which connects the city to Canby and Oregon City by bus. Mulino, a few miles north of Molalla along the Cascade Highway (Highway 213), is not much larger than Colton—the community applied to the county for “hamlet” status in 2007—but it is certainly less remote. The Molalla River School District (molallariv.k12.or.us) serves both Molalla and Mulino.

Molalla
Beavercreek

Further north, a mile or two off Cascade Highway, just a few miles south of Oregon City, the hamlet of Beavercreek lacks much of a town center—there is a gas station, a fire station, a post office, and a couple of businesses, plus the Beavercreek Grange and historic Bryn Seion Welsh Church, the oldest Welsh church on the West Coast. Beavercreek is claimed to be the birthplace of the sport of geocaching (see the “Sports and Recreation” chapter for details). Homes on large lots or small farms occupy the rolling hills, and roughly 6,500 people live in the area. Some new developments are going up north of the community, especially near Cascade Highway, but Beavercreek as a whole remains decidedly rural. At the same time, it is only 15 minutes from Oregon City, and lies within the Oregon City School District (orecity.k12.or.us).

Redland, Liberal, Eagle Creek, Marquam, Welches, Rhododendron, Zigzag, Wemme, and Brightwood

Other small outlying communities in Clackamas County include Redland, Liberal, Eagle Creek, and Marquam. Some people commute to the metropolitan area from the mountain communities between Sandy and Mount Hood—Welches, Rhododendron, Zigzag, Wemme, and Brightwood—but distance, hazardous winter weather, and heavy through traffic on Highway 26 make this option less attractive than it might sound.

East Multnomah County

Residents of eastern Multnomah County—the communities that extend east of Portland’s city limits—often grumble about being neglected. The county’s population (and hence representation on the board of commissioners) is Portland-centric, and many of the 150,000-plus people in the rest of the county feel, rightly or wrongly, that their corner of the world doesn’t get its proper share of funding. There is periodic talk of secession, either to form a new county, or to join Clackamas County, but the law is unfavorable and it is unclear that being tacked on to another populous county would provide any advantages. For now, fast-growing East County simmers in political disgruntlement, cooled only by the bitter winds that issue from the Columbia River Gorge in winter.

Gresham

Boundaries: North: Fairview; Wood Village; Troutdale; West: Portland; unincorporated Multnomah County; South: Unincorporated Multnomah County; unincorporated Clackamas County; Damascus; East: Unincorporated Multnomah County; Area: 23.4 square miles; Population: 109,000

Gresham (pronounced GRESH-um or, by true old-timers, GRAY-shum) is the fourth largest city in Oregon, but most Oregonians (or at least most Oregonians who live outside Gresham) seem blissfully unaware of this factoid. Ask the average Portlander what the fourth largest city in the state is, and they might guess Medford (no), Bend (not yet), or Beaverton (close but no cigar). In fact, many people in the Portland area largely ignore Gresham, except when they have to drive through it to get to Mount Hood. It is the butt of tasteless jokes, and the scene of gory crimes on local television news reports, and that is all.

The region’s collective diss of Gresham is a shame. While the city does have its share of problems, including a frighteningly high crime rate in some areas, it also has plenty of quiet, middle-class neighborhoods, some decent schools, a charming, historic city center, a diverse population, and a light rail line with a straight shot to Portland. It is close to recreational opportunities on Mount Hood and in the Columbia River Gorge, it has easy access to Portland International Airport, and parts of the city have awesome views of the mountains. Moreover, real estate prices tend to be lower here than in most of Portland or its more fashionable suburbs. In short, while Gresham is far from a newcomer magnet, it is certainly worth a second glance.

Gresham
Gresham Station

Gresham’s small downtown district (exploregresham.com) is surprisingly pleasant; the streets are lined with restaurants, shops, a few historic buildings (including a 1913 Carnegie Library, now a museum), and even a couple of day spas, and some new townhomes and loft-style residential buildings have been built here. There is a farmers’ market here on Saturdays from May to October (greshamfarmersmarket.com). Downtown Gresham is the eastern terminus of the MAX Blue Line, and many residents rely on light rail to commute to jobs in Portland. (The city has vague plans to further energize this area with new “transit-oriented” development.) The area around downtown is an odd mix of housing and commercial development. Apartments and townhome developments line many of the main roads (and some of the minor ones), while older subdivisions of single-family houses dot the landscape; even within walking distance of downtown, there are neighborhoods of 1960s-era homes on winding streets and culs-de-sac. The general impression is that opportunistic developers built haphazardly whenever old Mrs. Brown’s farm (or its equivalent) went up for sale, without really giving any thought to how or whether their developments related to one another. (This is not to say that the neighborhoods are necessarily unpleasant; some of them just seem stranded.) The new Gresham Station commercial development west of downtown has brought a bevy of national retailers and even some (relatively) high-end lofts and condos to the area.

Gresham Station
Rockwood

Much of west-central Gresham consists of single-family homes mixed with high-density housing developments and apartments. Rents here are in many cases much lower than in close-in Portland neighborhoods, and the region has seen an influx of low-income workers who have been priced out of Portland by gentrification and rising rents. This area in general, and in particular the Rockwood neighborhood (which is being positioned as the “Gateway to Gresham”), has a reputation for gang activity and violent crime, although it’s not exactly the South Bronx. There are also some quiet, residential, and perfectly safe areas here, so don’t be put off by the bad rep. Some urban renewal activity is taking place in this part of the city, especially along Burnside Street where the MAX line runs. Much of the city’s northern area, especially the districts adjacent to Fairview and Wood Village and flanking Interstate 84, is devoted to light industry.

In southwest Gresham, developments of newer homes—in some cases, brand-new homes—abut hobby farms just over the city line in unincorporated Multnomah County. This area, set in a valley on the west side of Gresham Butte, features a hodgepodge of styles, with a mix of ranches, contemporary homes, split-levels, some low-rise apartment complexes and townhome developments, and a few brand-new subdivisions. The homes on Gresham Butte itself (much of which is now protected as open space) tend to be newer and correspondingly more expensive, with views of the Washington Cascades (or, for houses on the eastern side of the butte, of Mount Hood).

Gresham
Kelly Creek

The neighborhoods of southeast Gresham, like those of southwest Gresham, feature a mix of styles, although the average home is relatively new. The Kelly Creek neighborhood, off Orient Road, has experienced substantial new development right out to the city limits, where on Southeast 282nd Avenue you’ll see dense developments right across the street from plant nurseries. This part of the city is well-positioned for quick trips to Mount Hood, and some homes have great views of the mountain looming to the southwest. Shopping plazas and light industrial facilities line the Mount Hood Highway (US 26) in this part of the city.

The Gresham-Barlow School District (district.gresham.k12.or.us) serves most of the city; students from the western fringe attend schools in the Centennial School District (centennial.k12.or.us), and the northern part of the city is part of the Reynolds School District (Reynolds.k12.or.us). Mount Hood Community College occupies a campus in the northeast corner of the city, and at least indirectly adds some cultural spice to the landscape. Gresham is reasonably well served by public transit; in addition to frequent MAX service, Tri-Met bus lines serve most of the main streets, and Sandy Area Metro buses run to Sandy. Interstate 84, which skirts Gresham to the north, is the main freeway route to Portland, but it can be very congested during rush hour, particularly between Interstate 205 and downtown Portland. Driving to Portland via the main east-west streets (Powell Boulevard, Division Street, Stark Street, Glisan Street, and Foster Road) can be slow and time-consuming, but it is a reasonable alternative if you are headed to Southeast Portland.

Website
greshamoregon.gov
ZIP Codes
97030, 97080, 97230, 97233
Post Office
Gresham Post Office, 103 W Powell Blvd
Police Station
Gresham Police Department, 1333 NW Eastman Pkwy, 503-618-2318 (non-emergency)
Emergency Hospital
Legacy Mount Hood Medical Center, 24800 SE Stark St, Gresham, 503-674-1122, legacyhealth.org
Libraries
Gresham Library, 385 NW Miller Ave, 503-988-5387; Rockwood Library, 17917 SE Stark St, 503-988-5396; multcolib.org
Parks
More than 25 parks and natural areas, including Main City Park and Red Sunset Park, plus 8 miles of recreational trail; greshamoregon.gov/play/
Community Publications
Gresham Outlook, theoutlookonline.com
Public Transportation
TriMet, 503-238-RIDE, trimet.org; MAX light rail service to Portland and Washington County and bus service within Gresham and between Gresham and various points in Portland; Sandy Area Metro (503-668-3466, ci.sandy.or.us) runs buses from Gresham to Sandy

Fairview, Wood Village, and Troutdale

Boundaries: North: Columbia River; West: Gresham; South: Gresham; East: Sandy River; Area: 3.5 square miles (Fairview); 0.9 square miles (Wood Village); 6.0 square miles (Troutdale); Population: 9,200 (Fairview); 3,900 (Wood Village); 16,500 (Troutdale)

The cities of Fairview, Wood Village, and Troutdale straddle Interstate 84 near the west end of the Columbia River Gorge, about 17 miles east of downtown Portland. These three “freeway-close” communities are sometimes lumped together—in this entry, for example—but all are separately incorporated and have different characteristics. Children from all three cities attend public schools in the Reynolds School District (Reynolds.k12.or.us). The median price of homes in these three communities is below the metro-area average, and is significantly lower than median prices in Washington County or the city of Portland.

Fairview

The interstate runs right down the middle of Fairview, the closest of these three cities to Portland. The original heart of the city, just south of Interstate 84, is a relatively affordable neighborhood of Cape Cods, ranches, and (east of Fairview Avenue) some newer traditional and contemporary homes; across Halsey Street to the south, Fairview Village (fairviewvillage.com) is a new mixed-use, pedestrian-friendly, master-planned development with townhomes, single-family homes, apartments, shops, and offices. The new Fairview City Hall is also located here, and Salish Ponds Park provides nearby open space. North of Interstate 84, the shores of shallow Fairview Lake are lined with large, expensive new homes, most with private docks, and a small park with a canoe dock. A short distance to the north is Blue Lake Regional Park, a Metro-run park with a popular swimming beach.

Fairview
Wood Village

The city of Wood Village sprang into being as a company town for the Reynolds Aluminum plant during the Second World War. Today, the city is best known as home of the disused Multnomah Greyhound Park (a.k.a. the “Dog Park”) in the city’s southeast corner; the park closed in 2004, and the site has been eyed for redevelopment. A plan to build a massive entertainment complex and casino on the site was defeated by voters in 2012. The adjacent Wood Village Town Center features a mix of retailers and specialty stores together with a new housing development. Most Wood Village homes are modest—unsurprisingly, given the city’s origin—but not tiny or squalid.

Wood Village
Troutdale

Troutdale is the largest and most populous member of this civic trio. Troutdale’s minuscule historic downtown borders the Historic Columbia River Highway, just up the hill and across the tracks from a very different shopping experience at the Columbia Gorge Factory Stores. Downtown Troutdale has several antique stores, restaurants and bars, and galleries, along with a couple of historic museums; a First Friday Art Walk takes place here, as does a farmers’ and artists’ market on Saturdays from April to mid-November. About a mile to the west on Halsey Street, the McMenamin brothers have converted the former Multnomah County Poor Farm into the 38-acre Edgefield complex, with a hotel, several restaurants and bars, a brewery, a winery, a golf course, a movie theater, and a glassblowing studio.

Troutdale

Troutdale’s residential districts sprawl across the hills and bluffs south of downtown. A few older houses still stand in the old grid above the historic downtown, and relict farmhouses dot the rolling highlands, but most homes date from the 1950s onward. As one proceeds south and southwest, the housing stock grows generally newer, and contemporary homes on culs-de-sac dominate much of the southern half of the city. Many of the houses on the ridges on either side of Beaver Creek offer views of Mount Hood and the Sandy River. The subdivisions off Cherry Park Road, in the city’s southwest, have newer homes and provide vistas across the Columbia River to the Washington Cascades (nice) and the Camas paper mill (less nice). The unincorporated zone between Troutdale and Gresham, in pretty countryside above the Sandy River south of the city, still has a definite rural feel.

These cities are literally at the doorstep of the Columbia River Gorge, and world-class hiking, windsurfing, and waterfall-gazing are only minutes away. At the same time, when the Gorge winds blow, Troutdale and vicinity take the brunt of the blast, and ice storms and snow storms, when they occur, are more severe. (Trees with weak limbs do not fare well here.) Besides the Gorge winds, occasional nuisances include low-flying planes from Troutdale Airport and occasional whiffs of the paper and pulp mill across the Columbia River in Camas, Washington. These cities offer a reasonably quick commute to Portland International Airport and its adjacent industrial zones, but traveling on Interstate 84 beyond Interstate 205 is very congested at peak times. Decent bus service exists, but coverage is fairly limited.

Websites
fairvieworegon.gov; ci.wood-village.or.us; ci.troutdale.or.us
ZIP Codes
97024 (Fairview), 97060 (Wood Village and Troutdale)
Post Offices
Fairview Post Office, 1700 NE Market Dr; Troutdale Post Office, 647 SW Cherry Park Rd
Police Stations
Fairview Police Department, 1300 NE Village St, 503-674-6200 (non-emergency); Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office, Wood Village City Hall, 2055 NE 238th Dr, 503-823-3333 (non-emergency); Troutdale Police Department, 234 SW Kendall Ct, 503-665-6129 (non-emergency)
Emergency Hospital
Legacy Mount Hood Medical Center, 24800 SE Stark St, Gresham, 503-674-1122, legacyhealth.org
Library
Fairview-Columbia Library, 1520 NE Village St, Fairview, 503-988-5655; Troutdale Library, 2451 SW Cherry Park Rd, 503-988-5355; multcolib.org/
Parks
Fairview: four small city parks, plus Metro’s Blue Lake Regional Park; Wood Village: Donald R. Robertson City Park; Troutdale: more than 20 parks and open spaces, including Glenn Otto Park on the Sandy River and Columbia Park (ci.troutdale.or.us/parks-facilities/); the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area and several state and regional parks on the Sandy River lie just east of Troutdale
Community Publications
Gresham Outlook, theoutlookonline.com
Public Transportation
TriMet, 503-238-RIDE, trimet.org; bus service to Portland and Gresham

Corbett and Springdale

Corbett

The unincorporated community of Corbett lies on a rolling plateau between the Columbia and Sandy rivers near the western end of the Columbia Gorge, about 20 miles east of Portland. The area is largely a landscape of working farms, orchards, and wineries, with spectacular views of Mount Hood and the Columbia River from some places. Housing stock runs the gamut from old farmhouses and American vernacular homes to daylight ranches and huge new custom homes. The community’s small commercial center lies on the Historic Columbia River Highway; Crown Point, the unofficial gateway to the Gorge, is just east of town. Although Corbett lacks big city amenities—or even small city amenities—it’s a short drive from the eastern edge of the metropolitan area, and is close to recreational opportunities in the Gorge, on Mount Hood, and on nearby Larch Mountain. Corbett has its own small, highly sought-after school district (corbett.k12.or.us) with nationally ranked charter and regular high schools. Indeed, Corbett’s strong public schools are a primary draw for many new residents, including residents who would not normally consider semi-rural living. Corbett can be extremely windy when the Gorge winds blow, and in winter it is the metro-area community most subject to ice and snow storms.

Corbett
Springdale

The low-density community west of Corbett and east of Troutdale along the historic highway is known as Springdale. The historic Springdale School in the center (such as it is) of Springdale is home to the Corbett Arts Program with Spanish.

Website
corbettoregon.com (unofficial)

Vancouver and Clark County

Southern Washington State Map

Southern Washington State Map

Once upon a time, back in the 1840s, Clark County included all of what is now the state of Washington. Although the county has diminished dramatically in size since then, it has grown equally dramatically in population. A steady flow of settlers and homesteaders arrived throughout the second half of the 19th century, and the county’s towns and cities started to expand in the early decades of the 20th, but the first big population boom occurred during the Second World War, when the Kaiser Shipyards in Vancouver employed nearly 40,000 people. During the war years, Vancouver’s population exploded from 18,000 to 100,000; many of the new residents were housed in temporary facilities, and thousands of houses were thrown up in postwar years to accommodate the influx of wartime workers who decided to set down roots. More recently, nearby Portland’s growth, along with Clark County’s lower average home prices, the historic lack of an urban growth boundary to constrain sprawl, and the fact that Washington has no state income tax, combined to attract tens of thousands of new residents. Clark County’s population now stands at about 440,000.

Unfortunately, job growth in Clark County has not kept pace with the area’s explosive population growth. For more than a decade, Clark County’s unemployment rate has been well above the Washington state average, and the jobs picture here has been worse than in other parts of the metro area. Many residents—about a third of the labor force—commute across the river to jobs in Portland. Rush-hour congestion along Interstate 5 between Vancouver and downtown Portland is, on average, the worst in the region, and the old Interstate Bridge is showing its age. A proposed new bridge, together with associated access ramp changes, was expected to have a price tag in the billions, and was finally killed by the Washington legislature, which refused to fund its share. The county’s sprawling new developments have contributed to traffic congestion problems within the county as well, since road networks have not kept up with population growth.

Despite the congestion, Clark County remains an appealing destination for many newcomers. Although housing costs in places like Camas are well above the metropolitan average and new growth management laws in Washington are putting the brakes on willy-nilly rural development, Clark County as a whole has some of the most affordable homes in the metro area, and both rents and home prices are much lower than in Portland proper or its western and southern suburbs. Clark County’s relative affordability has only increased following the post-bubble decline in real estate values, which hit Southwest Washington harder than the rest of the region. Washington is further fiscally attractive to some because it has no personal income tax, although it has high sales and property taxes. (If you live in Washington but work in Oregon, you will be subject to Oregon income tax.) Clark County is also perceived (at least in Clark County) as having better schools on the whole than Oregon does, with lower student-teacher ratios and more stable funding, although this generalization definitely is not true across the board. Clark County voters (especially North County voters) tend to be more politically conservative than their counterparts in Portland and its Oregon suburbs, although this generalization, too, does not paint a complete picture and is increasingly less true in Vancouver.

Vancouver and other large incorporated areas have their own neighborhood associations, which can be good resources for people planning a move. (A map of Vancouver associations is available at cityofvancouver.us/cmo/page/neighborhoods.) The unincorporated populated areas of Clark County also have neighborhood associations (see clark.wa.us/neighborhoods/associations.html).

County Website
clark.wa.us

Vancouver

Boundaries: North: Hazel Dell, Felida, Orchards (unincorporated Clark County); West: Vancouver Lake; Columbia River; South: Columbia River; East: Camas; unincorporated Clark County; Area: 49.9 square miles; Population: 167,500

Popularly relegated to the status of bland suburb to its much larger neighbor across the Columbia River, and dwarfed in public esteem by the more glamorous city of the same name in British Columbia, Vancouver USA (as the city has branded itself) has had trouble getting noticed. Civic boosters point out that if Vancouver were in Oregon it would be the second-largest city in the state, and emphasize that the city predates Portland by a couple of decades: the British Hudson’s Bay Company established Fort Vancouver as its western headquarters in 1825. But until recently, the ’Couv has been treated like the quiet, homely sibling of its popular, wild sister south of the river. Then Washington legalized same-sex marriage and recreational marijuana, when both remained illegal in Oregon until 2014, and suddenly Portland looked decidedly old-fashioned in comparison.

Vancouver

Even without these decidedly liberal developments, Vancouver’s stigma—if being thought of as completely unexciting is really a stigma—was already fading. Downtown redevelopment has given a breath of new life to the city’s wheezing old commercial center, the city’s restaurant and arts scene is growing, and annexations and a general influx of new residents have increased the city’s population dramatically and have (at least theoretically) given it a bigger voice in the region.

Of course, many Vancouverites are happy with their city the way it is (or was). (In response to the common “Keep Portland Weird” bumper sticker, some vehicles have begun displaying stickers exhorting readers to “Keep Vancouver Normal.”) Housing is more affordable here than in Portland, many neighborhoods have a great sense of community, the city is close to outdoor recreational opportunities, and there are plenty of amenities and mainstream shopping opportunities; at the same time, the cultural events and urban attractions of Portland lurk just across the river. A slim majority of Vancouverites oppose extending the light rail system to their city (or oppose paying for the extension, at any rate.) The potential downsides of living in Vancouver include high crime rates in some neighborhoods, a limited job base (and consequent high unemployment rate), sprawl and resulting car-dependency, airplane and/or train noise in some locations, and, for people who work in Oregon, Oregon income taxes and an increasingly congested commute. In short, Vancouver appeals to lots of people; whether you are one of those people depends on what exactly you’re looking for.

Vancouver

Downtown Vancouver

Downtown Vancouver (vdusa.org), perched above the river just west of Interstate 5, manages the neat trick of being simultaneously down-at-heel and up-and-coming. Old pawn shops, check cashing joints, and windowless bars mix uneasily with new residential lofts, art galleries, and day spas, as well as a host of service businesses and office buildings. Once-seedy Esther Short Park has been transformed into a venue for outdoor music festivals, and also serves as the home of the city’s farmers’ market (vancouverfarmersmarket.com); an underutilized new convention center is nearby. A railroad track cuts off downtown Vancouver from its waterfront, which the hulking Red Lion Hotel and its massive parking lot unfortunately dominate. It’s too early to call downtown Vancouver trendy—or even to surmise that it will be trendy in the near future—but it has become a more attractive environment for residents and visitors than it was a few years ago.

Downtown Vancouver

Uptown Village

Immediately to the north, the Uptown Village neighborhood (uptownvillage.com) offers a concentration of late-19th- and early-20th-century homes, including some cute bungalows, with several newer houses and apartment buildings mixed in. Dozens of small shops, restaurants, and service businesses line Main Street; the Clark County Historical Museum (cchmuseum.org), housed in an old Carnegie library, is also here. Community spirit is strong, and Uptown Village events include a St. Patrick’s Day parade, a street festival, and outdoor summer movies.

Fruit Valley

North of Fourth Plain Boulevard, ranches, Cape Cods, and other postwar styles predominate, and the businesses along Main Street become more utilitarian. Houses east of Main Street tend to get some freeway noise; across Main, train noise becomes a potential problem as you move west. Just beyond the train tracks, the Fruit Valley neighborhood has a few residences, and even some stranded orchards, but the area is primarily industrial.

Hudson's Bay

East of Interstate 5, the reconstructed palisades of Fort Vancouver (nps.gov/fova) stand anachronistically next to Pearson Airpark, a busy general aviation field. Nearby, the Vancouver Barracks, established in 1849 to guard the western end of the Oregon Trail, is still home to a Washington National Guard detachment; the grand Victorian houses of Officers Row, where General George Marshall and other military luminaries lived, have been converted to civic, nonprofit, and professional offices. While you cannot live in any of these places, you could live in the adjacent Hudson’s Bay neighborhood, which includes historic structures and (mostly) small houses, along with some new row houses.

South Cliff

The other neighborhoods that lie between Interstates 5 and 205 contain a mix of single-family homes and small-scale apartments in a diverse range of styles and degrees of upkeep. Most homes here date from the 1940s to the 1970s, although some newer homes exist and infill development is occurring in certain areas. Homes along the Columbia have great views of the river, and in some cases of Mount Hood, as well as Portland International Airport just across the water. Unfortunately, these homes were built along a busy transportation corridor and suffer correspondingly from noise from trains, planes, and automobiles. Homes located on the upper slopes of the ridge that parallels the Columbia River north of Highway 14 also have views that extend to downtown Portland and the West Hills, but with somewhat less noise. In general, these homes tend to be large in size and high in price, and many have panoramic windows to take in the scene. On the plateau just behind the ridge lie several desirable neighborhoods, such as South Cliff. While much of the area north of the ridge features pleasant, middle-class housing, some neighborhoods have relatively high crime rates, particularly the neighborhoods near Fourth Plain Boulevard from Clark College to the Vancouver Mall.

Given their vintage, many of the neighborhoods in middle Vancouver lack sidewalks, but there is a liberal sprinkling of public parks. Although much of the Columbia River shore is awaiting redevelopment, the Waterfront Renaissance Trail runs along the river for five miles from downtown Vancouver.

Cascade Park, and Fishers Landing

The neighborhoods east of Interstate 205 were generally developed more recently than those west of the freeway, so homes and apartment complexes tend to be newer. This area features a mix of commercial, retail, and residential development. Many of these neighborhoods were annexed by the city of Vancouver in recent years. Residential options include large single-family homes along with townhouses and some apartment complexes. Mill Plain Boulevard as it runs through the Cascade Park neighborhood is this area’s commercial heart. Fishers Landing and the surrounding area, at the city’s far eastern end near Camas, are among the newest and most popular neighborhoods in East Vancouver, but they are not to everyone’s taste. Some brand-new residential and retail developments have cropped up around the Hewlett Packard facility in far northeastern Vancouver, on the outer fringes of Vancouver’s urbanized area. Commuting into Oregon from East Vancouver can be a headache, although Portland International Airport and the surrounding industrial and commercial area is a short trip.

Fishers Landing

Two different school districts serve Vancouver. The Vancouver School District (vansd.org) covers the western half of the city; East Vancouver children attend Evergreen Public Schools (evergreenps.org). Both districts are quite large, with more than 20,000 students apiece. Evergreen schools have a slightly better reputation overall, but both districts contain excellent as well as not-so-great schools.

Website
cityofvancouver.us
ZIP Codes
98660, 98661, 98662, 98663, 98664, 98682, 98683, 98684
Post Offices
Vancouver Post Office, 2700 Caples Ave, Vancouver; downtown Vancouver Post Office, 1211 Daniels St, Vancouver; Cascade Park Post Office, 304 SW Hearthwood Blvd, Vancouver
Police Stations
Vancouver Police Department, 605 E Evergreen Blvd, 360-487-7400 (non-emergency); West Precinct, 2800 NE Stapleton Rd, 360-487-7355 (non-emergency); East Precinct, 520 SE 155th Ave, 360-487-7500 (non-emergency)
Emergency Hospital
Southwest PeaceHealth Medical Center, 400 NE Mother Joseph Pl, Vancouver, 360-514-2000, peacehealth.org/southwest
Libraries
Vancouver Community Library, 901 C St, 360-906-5106; Cascade Park Community Library, 600 NE 136th Ave, 360-256-7782; Three Creeks Community Library, 800-C NE Tenney Rd, 503-906-4790; Vancouver Mall Community Library, 8700 NE Vancouver Mall Dr, Suite 285, 360-906-5106; fvrl.org
Parks
More than 60 city and county parks, trails, and recreational facilities, including Vancouver Lake Park, Marine Park, David Douglas Park, Haagen Park, the Burnt Bridge Creek Greenway, Columbia Springs Environmental Education Area, and Fort Vancouver National Historical Site; cityofvancouver.us/parksrec
Community Publications
The Columbian, columbian.com
Public Transportation
C-TRAN, 360-695-0123, c-tran.com; extensive service near downtown Vancouver and in the western half of the city, with service to and from major destinations in East Vancouver and surrounding suburbs, and commuter bus service to downtown Portland and the Delta Park and Parkrose MAX stations

Camas

Boundaries: North: Unincorporated rural area (Clark County); West: Vancouver; South: Columbia River; East: Washougal; Area: 12.6 square miles; Population: 21,000

Founded in the 1880s as a paper mill town on the north shore of the Columbia River, Camas has evolved into a booming suburb and minor center for high-tech enterprise, with new facilities for such companies as WaferTech and Sharp Microelectronics. The city’s population has more than doubled in the last 10 years, with new residents lured by relatively low taxes, access to open space (and buildable lots), and good public schools. In 2014, Camas collectively patted itself on the back when Family Circle named it one of the top ten towns in the country to raise a family. The Georgia-Pacific paper mill is still the city’s primary landmark and one of its major employers; recently installed pollution control equipment has largely eliminated its once-legendary stench. Camas is a relatively easy 20-minute drive from Portland International Airport and its surrounding light-industrial area, but the commute to downtown Portland or Washington County can be grueling. Public transportation options from Camas are limited; some residents drive to transit centers in Vancouver or near the Portland Airport.

Camas

The city’s old-school, vibrant downtown area (downtowncamas.com) includes a range of services, specialty shops, and restaurants; the 1920s-era Liberty Theater has reopened. Many downtown businesses stay open late for an evening “art walk” on the first Friday of each month.

The neighborhoods near downtown Camas feature small bungalows and other traditional home styles, which blend into ranches and other postwar designs as one travels outward from the old center. Many otherwise attractive homes near the riverfront suffer from railroad noise and proximity to industrial uses. A few lovely older homes stand on the banks of the Washougal River, which passes through the eastern end of the city. The majority of the city’s housing stock is fairly new, however, and choices run the gamut from small condos and apartments to massive custom homes with views of Mount Hood and the Columbia River. The new subdivisions on Prune Hill, an extinct volcanic cone in the western part of the city, offer particularly expansive views; in addition to a collection of assorted luxury homes, Prune Hill also has streets of somewhat more modest newer homes. The median home price in Camas is among the highest in the Portland area, and is significantly higher than in most of Clark County—some 60% more than in Vancouver, for example.

Camas

Camas has its own highly regarded school district (camas.wednet.edu). A full third of the city’s population consists of children enrolled in public schools. Although the city has relatively few attractions of its own, it boasts a number of pleasant parks and offers easy access to the Columbia River Gorge and Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Lacamas Lake and its surrounding forested parklands and trails are especially popular.

The city’s website has a useful page for newcomers (cityofcamas.us/index.php/ourcommunity/newresident) that includes information on setting up utilities, arranging a garbage hauler, and similar practical details.

Website
cityofcamas.us
ZIP Code
98607
Post Office
Camas Post Office, 440 NE 5th Ave
Police Station
Camas Police Department, 2100 NE 3rd Ave, 360-834-4151 (non-emergency), cityofcamas.us/police
Emergency Hospital
Southwest PeaceHealth Medical Center, 400 NE Mother Joseph Pl, Vancouver, 360-514-200, peacehealth.org/southwest
Library
Camas Public Library, 625 NE 4th Ave, 360-834-4692, cityofcamas.us/library/
Parks
12 parks, including Lacamas Park, Crown Park, Forest Home Park; cityofcamas.us/parks/
Community Publications
Camas-Washougal Post-Record, camaspostrecord.com
Public Transportation
C-TRAN, 360-695-0123, c-tran.com; limited bus service to Vancouver, Washougal, and downtown Portland

Washougal

Boundaries: North: Unincorporated rural area (Clark County); West: Camas; South: Columbia River; East: Unincorporated rural area (Clark County); Area: 5 square miles; Population: 14,200

The easternmost significant community in the metropolitan area, Washougal, like Camas, is one of the fastest-growing communities in southwest Washington: the city’s population has tripled since 1990. Although it is separately incorporated and has its own police department, library, and school district (washougal.k12.wa.us), Washougal can best be understood as an eastern extension of Camas. The city has a tiny old downtown on B Street, with a few other commercial establishments on E Street. The original center of Washougal lay between the Columbia and Washougal rivers, and the bulk of the city’s older housing stock is here; many of the houses along the Washougal River have very pleasant settings. Newer houses with river views occupy the bluffs north of the Washougal River; quite a few of these houses are grand, custom-designed structures, and view lots on the hills are coveted. The area to the east of the city center—especially north of Evergreen Way and east of 32nd Street—has seen explosive residential growth in the last few years. Washougal is closer to Mount Hood than almost any other metro community, and on a clear late summer day residents can see crevasses on the mountain’s glaciers.

Washougal

Washougal suffers from some of the same commuting headaches as Camas, but weekend recreational opportunities are abundant: Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge and the Columbia River Gorge lie due east of the city. Much of the area along the Columbia is devoted to industrial uses, like the large port facility at the west end of town, but the three-mile Washougal Dike Trail leads east along the river from Steamboat Landing. Due to its proximity to the Gorge, Washougal is subject to occasional high winds and ice storms, and receives markedly more precipitation than Vancouver or Portland.

Washougal
Website
cityofwashougal.us
ZIP Code
98671
Post Office
Washougal Post Office, 129 Pendleton Way
Police Station
Washougal Police Department, 1320 A St, 360-835-8701 (non-emergency)
Emergency Hospital
Southwest PeaceHealth Medical Center, 400 NE Mother Joseph Place, Vancouver, 360-514-2000, peacehealth.org/southwest
Library
Washougal Community Library, 1661 C St, 360-835-5393, fvrl.org
Parks
More than a dozen parks and recreational facilities, including Steamboat Landing and Hathaway Park
Community Publications
Camas-Washougal Post-Record, camaspostrecord.com
Public Transportation
C-TRAN, 360-695-0123, c-tran.com; one bus line with limited service to Camas and Fishers Landing (East Vancouver)

Unincorporated Clark County: Hazel Dell, Lake Shore, Orchards, Felida, Salmon Creek, and Brush Prairie

Along its northern fringe, the city of Vancouver transitions into several unincorporated communities, which in turn blend into one another in a band of urbanized area that extends seven or eight miles from east to west.

Hazel Dell, and Lake Shore

Immediately north of Vancouver, the community of Hazel Dell straddles Interstate 5; Hazel Dell Avenue, which runs parallel to the freeway a block or so to the west; and Highway 99, a frankly unattractive strip mall that parallels I-5 just to the east. The community was essentially rural into the 1940s, and a few large parcels, particularly east of Highway 99, still have a rustic feel. Most houses here, however, date from the 1950s to the present, and the housing mix here includes ranches, split-levels, and contemporary homes, many with lovingly landscaped yards. Most of the neighborhood is relatively flat, but a ridge offers some views of Portland and Mount St. Helens. A few developments of new homes and townhouses have cropped up in Hazel Dell, particularly in the northern half of the community. In general, the appearance of the neighborhood improves as one moves east or west from Interstate 5, so don’t be put off by initial impressions. The southwestern part of the neighborhood offers easy access to the eight-mile, mixed-use Burnt Bridge Trail. The western edge of Hazel Dell borders Vancouver Lake, and the northwestern quadrant of Hazel Dell is also known as Lake Shore, and is considered one of the more desirable parts of the community. (Despite what the name suggests, there are no waterfront homes here.)

Walnut Grove, Minnehaha, Five Corners, and Orchards

The string of communities to the east of Hazel Dell—Walnut Grove, Minnehaha, Five Corners, and Orchards—extend out past Interstate 205 into former farm- and timberlands. These areas have similar housing stock to Hazel Dell, but as you travel east and north the average home age declines precipitously. These communities have seen rapid development in recent years, and large subdivisions and chain stores have replaced the fruit tree groves that gave Orchards its name. Home prices were never astronomical in these neighborhoods, even at the height of the last housing bubble, and this inner ring of unincorporated suburbia is one of the most affordable parts of the Portland metropolitan area. Note that despite the abundance of new construction and shiny new commercial establishments, a few neighborhoods have a lingering crime problem.

Felida

Northwest of Hazel Dell and west of Interstate 5, the tidy Felida neighborhood—named for the original 19th-century postmaster’s cat (family Felidae)—has an abundance of newer homes on culs-de-sac. These communities have access to Vancouver Lake on the west and the Salmon Creek Greenway to the north; Lake Shore and Felida elementary schools have a good reputation, and many families are attracted to the area.

Felida

Salmon Creek

Just to the north and east, the Salmon Creek area groans under the weight of massive homes in expensive new subdivisions. Nearly all the construction in Salmon Creek is relatively new—in some cases brand-new—and generally upscale. The culs-de-sac along the north side of Salmon Creek’s eponymous creek feature large contemporary homes and McMansions, some of which have grown up incongruously around mobile home parks. Some custom homes on large lots cluster along the bluff above Salmon Creek Greenway, especially at the western end. In addition to the abundant single-family homes, there are some townhomes and apartment complexes. New commercial developments have opened to serve the area’s burgeoning affluent population.

Salmon Creek

Washington State University’s Vancouver campus is in Salmon Creek, and its academic presence adds some cultural spice to a community that would otherwise be a fairly standard, if pleasant, suburban community. Salmon Creek’s schools are widely considered among the best in the Vancouver School District. Interstate 205 splits off from Interstate 5 here, so Salmon Creek residents have their choice of southbound commuting options.

Brush Prairie

East of Salmon Creek, Brush Prairie still has a low population density and fairly rural ambiance, but new housing is going up along Highway 503. Given the growth of nearby Salmon Creek, Orchards, and Battle Ground, it seems likely that Brush Prairie is fated to experience increasing development in the future.

Vancouver School District (vansd.org) covers the western half of this area (i.e., Hazel Dell, Felida, and Salmon Creek); Orchards is part of Evergreen Public Schools (evergreenps.org), while Battle Ground Public Schools (battlegroundps.org) serve part of Brush Prairie; the remainder of Brush Prairie and some of the surrounding area is part of the Hockinson School District (hocksd.org). The city of Vancouver is widely suspected (or known) to covet this entire area, with the possible exception of Brush Prairie (which Battle Ground is slowly absorbing from the north). Most residents have been opposed to annexation in the past—the Clark County government already provides these communities with many of the services that incorporated areas enjoy—but circumstances could easily change.

Battle Ground

Boundaries: North: Unincorporated Clark County; West: Unincorporated Clark County; South: Brush Prairie (unincorporated Clark County); East: Unincorporated Clark County; Area: 3.6 square miles; Population: 18,250

Battle Ground spreads across a scenic plain west of the Cascade foothills. A battle was never fought here—but today you will fight a battle just to get from the city to anywhere else. Battle Ground is the fastest growing city in Clark County, but it is not adjacent to any major highways, let alone mass transit options, so it takes at least 15 minutes, and often longer, just to get to Interstate 5 or 205. The city’s population has quintupled since 1990, expanding by more than 20% in 1997 alone, and the road network simply has not kept up with the area’s exploding growth. (Road widening projects now under way should improve the traffic situation somewhat in the near future.) To exacerbate the situation, the city statistically has only one job per two households, so most workers have to commute elsewhere. However, if you can live with the commute, Battle Ground is one of the most affordable metro-area communities. It is very popular with families, and half the city’s households include children under 18.

Battle Ground

As one would expect, most homes in Battle Ground are relatively new; some are quite large, but there are also unostentatious developments of basic single-family homes and townhomes. A few old landmark homes remain from the town’s early years, including the Henry Heisen House from the 1890s, Burdoin House from 1903, and the Rieck House, a 1920s bungalow. Supermarkets and other commercial services cluster along Main Street, especially near the intersection with Highway 503, but the majority of the city is residential. Battle Ground’s main disadvantage—its relative isolation—is also one of its chief attractions. Fields and woodland surround the city, and recreational opportunities abound in the Cascade foothills, in places such as Battle Ground Lake State Park and Lucia Falls Park, Moulton Falls Park, and the Bells Mountain Trail on the East Fork of the Lewis River. The city’s Battle Ground Public Schools district (battlegroundps.org) also serves several surrounding rural communities. Although growth has slowed from the heady days of the 1990s and 2000s, Battle Ground’s population is expected to keep expanding steadily in the next decade.

Website
cityofbg.org
ZIP Code
98604
Post Office
Battle Ground Post Office, 418 W Main St
Police Station
Battle Ground Police Department, 507 SW 1st St, 360-342-5200 (non-emergency)
Emergency Hospital
Legacy Salmon Creek Hospital, 2211 NE 139th St, Vancouver, 360-487-1000, legacyhealth.org
Library
Battle Ground Community Library, 1207 SE 8th Way, 360-687-2322, fvrl.org
Parks
18 parks and trails, including Kiwanis Park and Fairgrounds Park; cityofbg.org
Community Publications
The Reflector, thereflector.com
Public Transportation
C-TRAN, 360-695-0123, c-tran.com; two bus lines with service to Vancouver, Delta Park (North Portland) and Yacolt

Ridgefield, La Center, and Woodland

Ridgefield

These three small cities are (for the time being) separated from one another, and from the sprawl emanating from Vancouver, by miles of woods and fields. Ridgefield (ci.ridgefield.wa.us) is one of the fastest-growing cities in Washington; fittingly, it was the birthplace of U-Haul, and quite a few of that company’s trucks were used in the last few years to furnish the subdivisions that sprouted up in the fields along Pioneer Street. Ridgefield’s tiny Old Town by the river has a few shops and cafés; radiating east and southeast from the town center and on the slopes behind, you can see everything from modest ranch houses and mobile home parks to brand new “Northwest Craftsman-style” homes. Houses on higher ground have good views west to the low Tualatin Mountains in Oregon. Working farms, and even a winery, hem in the town on three sides, and it’s possible to pick up rural acreage here; to the west, narrow Lake River and the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge separate Ridgefield from the mainstream of the Columbia River. Ridgefield still has a small-town feel, especially near the old center, but it’s hard to ignore the new residential and commercial development. Ridgefield has its own school district (ridge.k12.wa.us).

La Center

La Center (ci.lacenter.wa.us) huddles on a hillside above the East Fork of the Lewis River; seen from a distance, the compact city center very faintly resembles a Northwest version of a Tuscan hill town. Unlike a Tuscan hill town, the town center has three card rooms offering poker and blackjack, but these establishments do not dominate the city. Houses are a variety of ages and styles, although there are few prewar homes left; some new construction is occurring around La Center, although noticeably less than in Ridgefield. The small La Center School District (lcsd.k12.wa.us) is well-funded and has an excellent reputation. The Cowlitz Tribe has proposed building a huge new casino complex near La Center, just off of Interstate 5, but plans have been tied up in court for years.

La Center

Woodland

The small city of Woodland (ci.woodland.wa.us) lies along Interstate 5 about 20 miles north of Vancouver, and thus at the approximate northern limit of what most people would consider possible commuting distance from Portland. (Most of the city actually lies within Cowlitz County.) Houses here range from modest ranches to large custom homes on the banks of the Lewis River. While Woodland doesn’t have many attractions, barring the lovely Hulda Klager Lilac Gardens (lilacgardens.com), it is the gateway to the southern slopes of Mount St. Helens. Woodland has its own school district (woodlandschools.org).

Many newcomers choose these outlying areas because they are looking for small-town ambiance within striking distance of the amenities of a large city. Ironically, these attributes attract growth and sprawl, which in turn threaten to erode the small-town ambiance. (This dilemma is hardly unique to southwest Washington.) The continuing livability of these communities will likely depend on the way in which they manage (or attempt to manage) their growth.

As in other parts of Clark County, transportation is an issue of concern. If you don’t have a job in these communities or nearby in Clark or Cowlitz Counties, be sure to test your anticipated commute before committing to buying a home here. C-TRAN’s Connector service offers very limited service from La Center and Ridgefield to Vancouver, where transfers to the regular bus system are available.

Amboy and Yacolt

These northern Clark County communities offer acreage, quiet, and long, long commutes. With an economy traditionally based on logging and agriculture, this area remains in large part a working rural landscape; mud-splattered pickup trucks outnumber passenger cars, there is no Starbucks for miles, and the local grange is still active. Many residents, even those who are not farmers, keep horses, llamas, or other large animals. Most homes here are relatively modest ranch homes or old farmhouses on farms or large lots; a few new, ostentatious homes are going up in choice spots in the region’s verdant valleys or on forested hillsides. Some homes have views of Mount St. Helens.

Each July, unincorporated Amboy hosts Territorial Days, which features such events as logging demonstrations and lawn mower drag races. Yacolt, best known for the devastating Yacolt Burn of 1902, the largest forest fire in Northwest history, was incorporated six years after the conflagration; it is the terminus of the Battle Ground, Yacolt, and Chelatchie Prairie Railroad, a scenic excursion train. Both communities offer a small range of essential services—groceries, auto repair, pizza, and the like—but most residents travel to Battle Ground or Vancouver for shopping. Yacolt has a primary school and Amboy has a middle school, both of which are part of the Battle Ground School District (battlegroundps.org). Public transportation is essentially nonexistent, barring a single bus line, running once per weekday in each direction, to Vancouver and North Portland.

Yacolt

Other Outlying Communities

Portland Surrounding Communities Map

Columbia County and Sauvie Island

Sauvie Island

Sauvie Island (often referred to colloquially as “Sauvie’s Island”) lies at the mouth of the Willamette River, between Multnomah Channel and the Columbia River. Sauvie is a classic delta island—flat, rich farmland dotted with shallow lakes and sloughs—and despite its proximity to Portland, the island is wholly rural. The forested Tualatin Mountains rise to the west, and on clear days a procession of Cascade peaks appears in the east. The island is unincorporated, and has a single grade school—after sixth grade, island children go to school in Scappoose. A bridge over Multnomah Channel near the southern tip of the island provides the only road access to the mainland, and power outages are frequent during winter storms.

Sauvie Island

Sauvie Island is a popular choice for people who like isolation and crave a rural lifestyle, but island living doesn’t come cheap: The median price of a home here is just about the highest in the metro area, and some spreads are in the multimillion-dollar range (although almost every dwelling comes with acreage). Moreover, isolation doesn’t equal solitude; the island’s beaches, wildlife refuges, U-pick farms, and fall pumpkin patches and corn mazes attract hordes of visitors (and bicyclists, who enjoy the flat, scenic roads), and it can take a long time to get on or off the island on weekends in summer and autumn. A TriMet bus line with all-day service runs from the southern tip of the island to downtown Portland. (Note that more than half of Sauvie Island is actually within Multnomah County, but it has more affinities with predominantly rural Columbia County than with highly urbanized Multnomah County.)

The Columbia County line is a few miles north of the Sauvie Island Bridge. Columbia County has long been dependent on forest products and related industries for jobs; many long-time Portlanders don’t think of it as part of the metropolitan area at all, even though Scappoose, the southernmost town in the county, is not much farther from downtown Portland than Wilsonville. The area is growing and evolving, however, with an influx of new residents who seek small-town living (and lower housing costs) within reach of jobs in the Portland area. Many of these new residents commute over the Tualatin Mountains to the tech centers of Washington County.

Scappoose

Scappoose, St. Helens, and Columbia City

Scappoose (ci.scappoose.or.us) stands opposite the northern end of Sauvie Island, about 20 miles north of downtown Portland. This small city’s older neighborhoods and commercial establishments cluster along Highway 30 and the train tracks that run beside it; a farmers’ market takes place in the city center (such as it is) on Saturdays in season. There are some small developments of new homes in Scappoose proper, but most newer houses perch in the hills just west of town; some hillside homes have expansive views over Sauvie Island to the Cascades. Other houses are tucked away in shady canyons. Scappoose itself lacks river frontage, although Scappoose Bay to the north has a marina and some of the best flatwater kayaking in the state. About eight miles north, St. Helens (ci.st-helens.or.us), the county seat, is on the Columbia River, and takes advantage of its setting. The city’s “Olde Towne” historic district spreads out along the riverfront, which also features a marina with a few houseboats; the city is located far enough north that Mount St. Helens, not Mount Hood, dominates the eastern horizon. St. Helens’s older homes are concentrated in this area. Newer homes spread out in subdivisions to the west, between the riverfront and Highway 30, and as in Scappoose many homes outside of town are set in hollows in the hills west of Highway 30. Just to the north of St. Helens, much smaller Columbia City (columbia-city.org) hugs the riverfront and the hillside just behind it.

St. Helens

The Scappoose School District (scappoose.k12.or.us) serves Scappoose and Sauvie Island; the St. Helens School District (sthelens.k12.or.us) covers St. Helens and Columbia City. Commuting to Portland is via Highway 30, which is not a freeway for most of the way and which carries a high volume of truck traffic. Commuters to Washington County face the choice of driving into Portland and out the frequently snarled Sunset Highway, or winding over the Tualatin Mountains on Cornelius Pass Road. Although St. Helens is essentially just across the river from Ridgefield, Washington, there are no highway bridges between Longview and Vancouver, so commuting to Clark County is not an easy or quick option (unless you own a boat and have access to docks on both sides of the Columbia). The only transit service in Columbia County is the Columbia County Rider (columbiacountyrider.com), which provides limited commuter service between St. Helens/Scappoose and downtown Portland, Longview, and Portland Community College’s Rock Creek campus; the trip from St. Helens to any of these destinations takes about an hour.

County Website
co.columbia.or.us

Yamhill County

Yamhill County, southwest of Portland, is the heart of Oregon’s wine country. Yamhill County is a less-moneyed, more laid-back version of California’s Napa County, but don’t let the dearth of Hollywood names fool you: winemakers here are serious about their product. The region is especially renowned for its Pinot Noir, which is among the very best in the world.

Newberg

Of course, vineyards do not wholly, or even mostly, cover the county; the western half of the county encompasses a large, forested chunk of the Coast Range, while several small cities dot the landscape in the eastern half of the county. The closest of these cities to Portland is Newberg (newbergoregon.gov), set picturesquely between the Willamette River and the Chehalem Mountains. This fast-growing city of about 23,000 people has an old-fashioned downtown (newbergdowntown.org), with a nearby neighborhood of historic homes (including Herbert Hoover’s boyhood home, which is now a museum) featuring a number of impressive, century-plus-old landscape trees. The city has an abundance of more recently built homes, including hillside homes, as well as some brand-new developments and a large selection of apartment complexes. The presence of George Fox University ensures that Newberg has a more active cultural calendar than it otherwise would.

Newberg

Dundee

A few miles down the highway, the much smaller (and somewhat quainter) city of Dundee (dundeecity.org) features a couple of respected bistros and even some wineries right on the main drag. If you crave your own terroir—and if you don’t know what that means, you probably aren’t interested—expensive homes on grape-planted acreage are available just outside either city. Homes on the Chehalem Mountains or the Dundee Hills are especially coveted for viticulture, and offer incredible views across the Willamette Valley to the Cascades. Newberg Public Schools (newberg.k12.or.us) serve both communities.

Dundee

McMinnville

Still farther down Highway 99W, McMinnville (ci.mcminnville.or.us) is the largest city in the county (about 33,000 residents). Like Newberg, McMinnville is undergoing substantial growth, and many new developments have sprung up around town. The city’s pleasant downtown (downtownmcminnville.com) was largely built up during the period from 1880 to 1920, and is filled with restaurants, wine bars and cafés, interesting (and not-so-interesting) shops, the Mack Theater (opened in 1941), and the Hotel Oregon (another McMenamins restoration), with its popular rooftop bar. A farmers’ market is held on Thursdays during the summer. The adjacent residential neighborhoods are filled with older homes, including some restored Victorians; more modern homes and low-rise apartment buildings dominate the rest of the city. Just south of downtown, Linfield College hosts an International Pinot Noir Celebration every summer. For now, the giant Spruce Goose airplane spreads its comically long wings at the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum (evergreenmuseum.org), just outside town; the museum has an associated indoor waterpark that incorporates a rooftop Boeing 747. (The future of the museum/waterpark complex is in doubt at press time, due to the bankruptcy of Evergreen International Aviation.) McMinnville has its own school district (msd.k12.or.us). Although most areas of McMinnville are quite safe, a few neighborhoods are pretty dodgy, and the city has a surprisingly high rate of crime given its rural setting. That said, the city overall has a standard-issue small-town vibe; average housing prices are among the lowest in the Portland-Vancouver-Salem area.

McMinnville

Although they are by no means remote, the communities of Yamhill County aren’t really close to any major cities. Newberg and Dundee are reasonable possibilities for commuters to jobs in Portland’s southwestern suburbs, such as Tigard, Tualatin, or Wilsonville; McMinnville is within striking distance of Salem. If you’re seriously considering a move to Yamhill County, be aware that Highway 99W, the main artery that connects Yamhill County to Portland, has a chronic congestion problem. While it’s not really a barrier to weekend sightseeing, traffic congestion hampers commuters and dampens the area’s economic growth. The state has begun construction on the first phase of an expressway that will bypass Newberg and Dundee, which is scheduled to open in 2017, but the remaining phases are unfunded; in other words, traffic will remain an issue, at least in the short-term. Yamhill County Transit Area (yctransitarea.org) provides limited bus service within Yamhill County and from county towns to Salem, Sherwood, and Hillsboro.

Amity, Yamhill, Carlton, Lafatette, and Dayton

If you’re looking for a small town in wine country, others worth checking out include Amity, Yamhill, Carlton, Lafayette, and Dayton.

County Website
co.yamhill.or.us

Marion County

The farmlands and rolling, wooded hills of Marion County lie smack-dab astride the mid-Willamette Valley, one of the nation’s most productive agricultural regions. The region produces a range of crops, from iris bulbs to hazelnuts, and is perhaps best known as the home of the Marionberry, a tasty blackberry hybrid that was named after the county and has no relation to the former mayor of Washington, D.C. If you suffer from hay fever, beware: the central Willamette Valley has many grass farms, and in late spring high concentrations of grass pollen mean misery for allergy sufferers.

Aurora

The town of Aurora (ci.aurora.or.us) began its existence in the 1850s as the Aurora Colony, a commune of German Christians—a Northwestern version of the Amana colonies. The commune eventually faded away, but left behind the nucleus of the city’s historic district (auroracolony.com). Today, the historic district is packed with antique stores and small eateries; Aurora Mills Architectural Salvage (auroramills.com) and the Old Aurora Colony Museum are also located here. The neighborhood south of the historic center is a mix of century-old homes and postwar ranches. (A working train line runs nearby; beware if you’re sensitive to rumbling and train whistles.) Some new housing developments are beginning to crop up on the outskirts of the city, but for now Aurora remains surrounded by agricultural land and the city maintains a laid-back, small-town atmosphere. The city is also home to a popular general aviation airport—the third busiest airport in the state—which makes Aurora (along with the nearby Charbonneau district of Wilsonville) a convenient place for avid private pilots to live. (Noise abatement procedures discourage pilots from overflying town.)

Aurora

Woodburn, and St. Paul

A public bus line links Aurora with Canby and the city of Woodburn (woodburn-or.gov), a major trade and service center for the northern Willamette Valley. Many Portlanders know Woodburn as the site of the Woodburn Premium Outlets mall just off Interstate 5, but there’s much more to the city. Highway 99E, which parallels I-5 to the east, is a strip mall lined with supermarkets, chain restaurants, and taquerias, but the adjacent neighborhoods contain plenty of modest single-family homes and apartments. A busy set of train tracks abuts Woodburn’s tiny downtown; to the west lies a pleasant district of historic homes on tree-lined streets. Some new housing developments are rising in the fields that surround the town. Woodburn’s official nickname is “City of Unity,” which reflects the city’s unusually diverse population, including large contingents of Hispanics and Russian Orthodox Old Believers. If you happen to have a highly polluting car—and shame on you if you do—you should know that Woodburn is at the northern frontier of the zone where emissions tests are not required; residents of all Oregon towns and cities farther north have to take their vehicles to DEQ (Department of Environmental Quality) testing stations every two years. Northwest of Woodburn, the tiny, historic city of St. Paul (no website) is best known for its annual rodeo, held each year on July 4 (stpaulrodeo.com).

Woodburn

Silverton

Charming Silverton (silverton.or.us), set amid fields and orchards at the edge of the Cascade foothills, is an increasingly popular destination for a day trip or weekend getaway, but it also attracts newcomers who like the scenic location and small-town vibe. Neighborhoods of old bungalows and cottages surround a traditional downtown, filled with murals illustrating the city’s history; outlying areas feature ranches and newer contemporary homes, and true farm living is just outside the city. In terms of landscape, Silverton offers a mix of flat bottomland and rolling hills; hilltop homes feature gorgeous views of the nearby Cascades. Area attractions include the Oregon Garden and beautiful Silver Falls State Park. While too far from Portland for comfortable commuting for most people, Silverton may be a reasonable choice for people who work in Salem or at the southern end of the Portland metropolitan area (e.g., Wilsonville).

Silverton

Mt. Angel

A few miles north of Silverton, charming, sleepy Mt. Angel (ci.mt-angel.or.us) celebrates its Swiss and German heritage with a glockenspiel in its small downtown area and a popular Oktoberfest (oktoberfest.org), held confusingly in September. Homes in Mt. Angel run the gamut from old farm cottages to large contemporary-style homes and everything in between, sometimes all on the same street. The landscape becomes rural within a mile or so in any direction. On a hill just east of town stands handsome Mt. Angel Abbey, home to a library designed by famed Finnish architect Alvar Aalto.

Salem

Salem (cityofsalem.net), Oregon’s state capital and second-largest city, is not the urban dynamo one might expect. The city core, around the state capitol building, bustles with activity when Oregon’s part-time legislature is in session, but has a quiet, small-town feel the rest of the year. Except for a few bars, downtown Salem mostly shuts down in the evening after the state workers go home, although that situation is gradually changing. A few good new restaurants draw evening diners year-round, and the (rather limited) selection of cultural offerings is slowly expanding; downtown Salem even hosts a talented improv troupe (Capitol City Theater, capitolcitytheater.com). The city has redeveloped part of the Willamette River waterfront into a park, there is a new convention center, and downtown has a handful of upscale condos. Can high-end restaurants and posh boutiques be far behind?

Salem Waterfront

Maybe, maybe not. Virtually no one moves to Salem for its urban amenities, but more typically because they are attracted by the city’s traditional-feeling, slow-paced vibe. In other words, in terms of attitude at least, Salem is an un-Portland, but it still enjoys both an attractive geographical location with access to abundant recreational opportunities, as well as reasonable proximity to Portland’s urban attractions. As an added benefit, Salem remains the lowest-cost major housing market on the West Coast, and its relative affordability is definitely part of the city’s appeal.

Several historic districts with attractive old homes border the State Capitol and the Willamette University campus; the neighborhood near Bush’s Pasture Park is particularly lovely. Hilly South Salem offers pleasant neighborhoods of postwar ranches and newer contemporary homes (some with mountain or valley views); prices here tend to be relatively high (for Salem). West Salem has an abundance of newer homes, with many of the McMansion variety, and prices here are also quite high by Salem standards. (Note that West Salem is in Polk County rather than Marion County.) South Salem and West Salem have traditionally been considered the most desirable parts of the city, but there are pleasant enclaves in other quadrants ars well. Home prices are generally lowest in North Salem and in the neighborhoods near Lancaster Drive, an extensive strip mall that parallels Interstate 5 on the city’s east side.

Salem is a good bet for people who intend to work here or in a nearby community. The commute from Salem to Portland or Beaverton takes at least an hour—much longer if there’s an accident—and traffic on Interstate 5 gets heavier every year. (The reverse commute from Portland to Salem is somewhat more manageable, but is still unpleasantly long.) Although many workers carpool or vanpool, there is little viable public transportation useful for commuters between the two cities; to get between the cities by bus, you would have to make multiple transfers and deal with two or three different transit agencies. Amtrak runs one northbound morning train and one southbound evening train; this option might work for commuters who work near Union Station in Portland.

Hubbard, Gervais, Donald, or Scott Mills

If you are looking for a small town in this area, you might also consider Hubbard, Gervais, Donald, or Scotts Mills.

County Website
co.marion.or.us

The Columbia Gorge

Stevenson, and Cascade Locks

The Columbia River Gorge, with its gobsmackingly dramatic scenery, is a popular destination for outdoor recreation, but for a select few it is also a place to call home. Although there are no sizeable communities between Troutdale/Washougal at the west end of the Gorge and Hood River/White Salmon, an hour east of Portland (in good weather), there are several small towns and numerous rural dwellings. Most Gorge dwellers live on the slightly less precipitous Washington side of the river, which also gets more winter sunshine. (This is not a feature of climate, but a consequence of the steep cliffs on the Oregon side of the river blocking out light when the sun is at a low winter angle.) The largest town is Stevenson (ci.stevenson.wa.us), the county seat of Skamania County, which is transitioning from a logging town to a more tourism-based economy; other settlements include Carson and North Bonneville. The only hamlet of any size on the Oregon side is Cascade Locks (cascade-locks.or.us), at the southern end of the Bridge of the Gods near Bonneville Dam. In addition to houses in these small towns, homes of various sizes and ages are scattered among the hills and dells on the Washington side of the river; these range from newer houses on high benches of land with spectacular views to moldering old single-levels and mobile homes tucked into shady canyons. A few old cottages stand next to the Historic Columbia River Highway on the Oregon side.

All this sounds idyllic to some people, and it can be, but the fantasy of Gorge living may be more appealing than the reality, for several reasons. First, the Gorge is a designated National Scenic Area, with extremely strict land use laws; you can’t simply buy a promising parcel of land and build a home, or necessarily even replace a dilapidated existing structure. Second, there is a limited economic base, which means that unless you have a home-based business you’ll probably need to commute. And this fact leads to the third issue: because the Gorge funnels cold interior air westward in winter, ice and snow storms that don’t affect Portland at all can cut off Gorge communities for days at a time. In addition, even during mild weather, the Gorge is subject to sustained strong winds that are great news for windsurfers but can be tedious or worrisome for residents. Wind speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour are not uncommon in exposed areas. If all that sounds enticing to you, then by all means consider living in one of the most spectacular settings in North America.

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