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The Pearl District , Portland’s well-known Arts and Culture hub near downtown, offers many shops, galleries and restaurants from which to choose. The area is bordered by West Burnside Street on the south, the Willamette River on the north, NW Broadway on the east and the Interstate 405/NW 14th Street on the west. ( MAP)
The area has undergone a marked revitalization since the 1990s, when the Pearl was full of empty buildings, industrial warehouses and railyards. The past decade has been one of rapid redevelopment, as hundreds of businesses and thousands of new residents have flocked to restored buildings and new condominiums and apartments.
Some of the cities best home furnishing, lighting and antique stores are side by side in the Pearl. It also offers many choices for dining out; restaurants include: Bluehour, Park Kitchen, Silk, Piazza Italia, Andina, Sin Ju, and Giorgio's... just to name a few. There are also two popular brewpubs ( Deschutes and Bridgeport), a public house ( Rogue Ales) and a restaurant set in the former home of the Blitz-Weinhard Brewery ( Henry's 12th Street Tavern).
First Thursday Gallery Walks are held on...when else?... the first Thursday of each month. Art galleries are open later in the evening and the areas sidewalks, restaurants, bars and clubs are filled with shoppers and strollers out to enjoy the evening. Theater-goers can enjoy Portland Center Stage performances at the restored Gerding Theater at the Armory (housed in what was once an Annex for Portland's National Guard unit; erected in the 1890s, its massive fortress-like façade on NW Davis, between 10th and 11th, is hard to miss). And for lovers of the written word, no visit to Portland would be complete without a stop at Powell's City of Books.
According to the Pearl District Business Association, the Pearl District name originated from Thomas Augustine. Augustine's good friend Pearl Marie Amhara would often visit Portland in the mid-1980s to celebrate creative events. Pearl Marie viewed the Pearl District as Portland's soon to be art neighborhood, because at the time the city was still very new without an established art district. It evolved from "Pearl's Place" to "Pearl's District," and was eventually published in an Alaska Airlines magazine as the Pearl District. Pearl Marie passed away in 1996 before the district's development peaked. She and her good friend Augustine will never be forgotten.
Four parks can be found in the Pearl District. Those are Jamison Square, Tanner Springs Park, North Park Blocks, and The Fields Neighborhood Park. Jamison Square (at NW Johnson, between 10th and 11th) is a popular oasis, especially in the summer, with its ebbing tidepool and cascading fountain creating a place for children to splash and a tree-shaded lawn for lounging. Nearby Tanner Springs Park (block bordered by NW Marshall & Northrup, between 10th and 11th) is a serene spot intended to emulate wetlands that once existed in the area.The North Park Blocks are found towards the eastern edge of the District and are among the earliest parks platted by city founders, dating to the 1860s. Today they are distinguished by their mature tree, their public bocce courts, and an elephant statue near West Burnside, gifted by a Chinese businessman enamored with the city. The Fields Neighborhood Park is the newest addition, featuring Portland's only dedicated dog park (as of April 2013). The Fields has a large sport court like area for community events and games.Although extremely walkable, the Pearl District is also streetcar accessible. The Streetcar runs on a 4 mile loop from Legacy Good Samaritan Hospital to NW 23rd on Lovejoy and Northrup through the Pearl and on 10th and 11th to Riverplace and the South Waterfront and is free of charge south of NW Hoyt. Parking can be difficult and is mostly limited to curbside meters; few structures or surface lots exist although there is a sizable underground lot serving the Brewery Blocks and Whole Foods and a SmartPark garage near the Lovejoy ramp off of the Broadway Bridge. Other modes of transportation are availble; such as car sharing and Trimet bus line 77.