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Portland is Oregon's largest city, centrally located at the junction of the Willamette and Columbia rivers. Originally a trading center, Portland has evolved into a vital West Coast shipping point, and more recently it diversified into a tech, advertising and economic center. With the city sitting south of the Columbia River, numerous neighborhoods spread east along the banks of the Columbia, as well as south along the Willamette River and up into the wooded plateaus west of downtown.
With the banks of the Willamette as a backdrop, the downtown area is clean and modern, with a financial district, lively shopping areas and several parks. Just to the north is the historic Pearl District, centered on the restored Portland Union Station rail hub and its famous Go By Train neon sign. Nearby neighborhoods are lined with small restaurants and businesses in well-maintained older brick buildings, with homes in walking distance of many amenities. The downtown population is on an upswing, with new riverfront high-rise units and a number of Pearl District residential developments. The city has exceptional museums, cultural amenities and entertainment venues in an interesting blend of modern and historic facilities.
Living in Portland
Portland attracts people from all over the country with its proximity to the Oregon coast, Mt. Hood and the large expanses of forest for hiking, camping and fishing. It's an extremely environmentally conscious city, setting the national bar for bicycle commuting, revolutionary recycling programs, sustainability and organic food. Portland is also home to the nation's nation's largest continually operating open-air market, a number of local Oregon breweries and many well-known coffeehouses.
Farmer's markets are common throughout Portland, and there's also a thriving independent performance theater movement. The city is known for its vibrant community of independent artists and businesses, providing unique shopping and dining in every corner of the city. It's also the home base of Powell's City of Books, which claims to be the largest independent bookstore in the world. With nearly two acres of retail space, the largest Powell's Books location occupies an entire city block.
Here are a few of the great neighborhoods you won't want to miss in Portland:
In the early 20th century, the Pearl District was filled with warehouses, industrial buildings and railroad yards, but today, it couldn't look more different. It's one of the most affluent neighborhoods in Portland and hosts a number of art galleries, upscale boutiques and top-rated restaurants.
Alberta Arts District
The Alberta Arts District is about 20 blocks long and has become a destination for locals who appreciate its artsy, bohemian culture. Regular street fairs and art festivals like Last Thursday, a monthly art walk, are a big part of the Alberta community.
The Hawthorne neighborhood has an eclectic mix of local retail shops, cafes and breweries. It's also the site of scenic Mt. Tabor Park, which is built on an extinct volcano.
This Portland neighborhood is named for its historic Hollywood Theatre, built in the 1920s. The theater originally showed vaudeville acts and silent movies, and you can still watch a movie there today.
Schools in Portland
One of the largest districts in the Pacific Northwest, Portland Public Schools (PPS), manages many of the public schools in Portland
. There are also several other districts that serve the area's elementary, middle and high schools. Private school options range from parochial schools to Waldorf academies.
There are several large colleges and universities in the area, including Portland State University, Portland Community College, Oregon Health and Science University and the University of Oregon.
Resources for Moving to Portland
Here's some key information to make your move to Portland as easy as possible:
- Utilities: Portland's central electricity provider is Portland General Electric, and the city's Water Bureau manages water and sewer services.
- Garbage and Recycling: A few different waste disposal companies service Portland, and your provider depends on where you live. Curbside collection of trash and recycling is available in most parts of the city. Portland also provides support and resources for home composting.
- Transportation: The city places a large focus on developing a well-connected public transit network, so you'll find that you have plenty of options for getting around. Bus, light rail and street car services are available throughout the city, and most of its neighborhoods are very pedestrian- and bike-friendly.
The median home and rent prices in Portland are significantly higher than the U.S. average, and homes and apartments generally move fairly quickly in the active market. The good news is that there are many neighborhoods and outlying suburbs of Portland, so you'll have a diverse range of housing styles to choose from.