The Northwest District of Portland is a neighborhood featuring two bustling streets—Northwest 21st Avenue and Northwest 23rd Avenues—of shops, restaurants and public spaces. The area is brimming with culture and history that lend to its nicknames, among them Trendythird, Slabtown, Nob Hill and the Alphabet District (so named for the sequence of Northwest Portland’s street names).
Trendythird derives from the major shopping locale of Northwest 23rd Avenue, where various shops, bars and cafes provide an ambiance of hip, trendy vibrancy to the neighborhood. Slabtown is particularly historic, as the early working class of Portland’s Northwest District could not afford firewood that had been prepared and cut, instead relying on throwaway slabs from sawmills for heat; the once-derogatory title of Slabtown was embraced by the neighborhood as it matured into one of Portland’s most posh areas. Nob Hill is a moniker earned for the district’s resemblance to San Francisco’s own tree-lined, hilly neighborhood.
The Northwest District of Portland’s cultural history includes many ties to its earliest residents, including Captain John H. Couch. Where Oregon City was once the largest in the state, Couch staked a claim and set to work attracting fellow sailors and maritime workers to the Northwest District, thereby establishing steady business in Portland and boosting the city’s population (currently much larger than Oregon City’s). Couch established trade with miners sailing for San Francisco during the Gold Rush; selling supplies and chartering ships for miners headed for San Francisco proved profitable and soon Couch’s daughters began developing homes in the Northwest District of Portland.
As the Northwest District grew, Couch subdivided his land and investors in the area developed luxury homes that attracted many new residents to Portland. Several multifamily housing units were built during World War II, and mansions and large houses in the Northwest District were converted into rental units. Economic depression after the war resulted in many residents spreading out to the suburban area surrounding Portland, though the 1970s saw a revival of interest in the area from business owners who sought to create a community of historic culture blended with modern trends.
Today, the Northwest District of Portland is considered one of Portland’s most economically and culturally active areas and a great place to live for residents seeking the excitement of downtown living and the safety of an upscale neighborhood.
The Northwest District of Portland is west of the Pearl District and east of the Hillside neighborhood, north of West Burnside Street and south of Northwest Vaughn Street. The Northwest District’s primary attractions are Northwest 21st Avenue and Northwest 23rd Avenue, given the wide range of shops, restaurants, bars and parks along the two avenues. Many Craftsman and Victorian homes in the Northwest District have been converted into apartments, though there are still some single-family residencies in the area that provide living space on and nearby the two major avenues.
The Northwest District is home to the Good Samaritan Hospital and the Dove Lewis Animal Hospital, as well as Couch Park at Northwest 19th Avenue and Northwest Glisan Street, and Wallace Park at Northwest 25th Avenue and Northwest Raleigh Street. Couch Park features a large dog park, basketball courts, a playground a vast, sprawling grass area that is great for picnics, yoga, Frisbee games and even simple relaxation. The larger Wallace Park is farther away from the main hustle and bustle of the Northwest District and hosts such attractions as a large dog run, several basketball courts, multiple picnic areas with benches, public restrooms, a softball field, a soccer field and even a horseshoe area.
The Northwest District provides residents with easy access to several hiking and biking trails that lead into the neighboring areas of the Industrial Northwest District to the north, Downtown to the south, Hillside to the west and the Pearl District to the east. The Portland Streetcar runs through much of the Northwest District and has stops throughout the Pearl District and Downtown, and the tram continues on to the Waterfront District.
The Northwest District of Portland features such a broad spectrum of shops, dining choices, and activity and entertainment destinations that there is bound to be something that interests everyone. The artistic, creative vibe of the neighborhood blends seamlessly with the commerce and businesses of the area and the rich history and culture of the Northwest District make it one of Portland’s most exciting areas.