Portland Neighborhood Guide

There are so many great areas to live in Portland. Here is an overview of the 5 main quadrants in the city, and some of their most popular neighborhoods


NORTHEAST Portland is incredibly diverse, boasting some of Portland’s most established and beloved neighborhoods, such as Irvington, with its grand, historic homes on tree-lined streets, and Alameda, situated along the distinguished Alameda Ridge overlooking downtown Portland. It is also home to a growing number of newer favorites, none greater than the thriving Alberta Arts District. Here, the monthly Last Thursday event and an ever rising tide of highly acclaimed bars, coffee shops and restaurants bring the life out of all corners of the city. The longstanding Hollywood Farmers Market, eclectic commercial districts like Beaumont Village, and the bustling nightlife and entertainment district along the lower Burnside corridor (home to the famous Doug Fir Lounge), are all little treasures that help make NE Portland what it is. The area is also home to the well-known Lloyd District, one of the largest shopping districts in the close in Eastside. Straddling the base of the borders of North and Northeast is the Rose Quarter, home of the Portland Trail Blazers, and also includes the Blazers’ former home, the Memorial Coliseum. 

SOUTHEAST Portland stretches from the Willamette to the eastern edge of Portland and from Burnside down to Milwaukie on the southern boundary. Neighborhoods in SE encompass a wide variety of homes styles, neighborhood character, and retail districts. SE Portland is probably best known for its “hippie” Hawthorne neighborhood, popular with tourists and full of eclectic shops and restaurants. Lately, Richmond, Home Team’s home, has seen incredible new development with dozens of new restaurants and shops along Division Street. There are well-used porches and coffee shops everywhere you look. It’s also popular with home buyers and renters for having the some of the most walkable and bikeable neighborhoods boasting multiple pedestrian-friendly retail corridors along Division, Hawthorne, Belmont, and Burnside and plenty of attitude, Southeast Portland is a wonderful place to live. 


NORTHWEST Portland presents a mix of culture and architectural style. The area sprawling from the base of the West Hills to the edge of the Pearl District is full of turn of the century Craftsman, Colonial and Victorian homes.  This affluent neighborhood boasts great city parks as well including Wallace, Couch and the nation’s largest within city limits, Forest Park.

Navigating northwest Portland couldn’t be easier as it is dubbed the Alphabet District, with streets running east to west alphabetically from Ankeny to York. Portland’s Street Car provides easy hop-on, hop-off travel as well as a multitude of bus lines connecting to the larger MAX light rail system. From Naito Parkway running the Multnomah river waterfront toward the West hills, streets climb in number from NW 1st on up.  A few important stops on the climb include the historic Old Town, both the converted warehouse and new construction lofts of the Pearl, and another conglomeration of brick buildings continuing west in the urban extravaganza of Uptown, Nob Hill and all the pocket communities in between.  These neighborhoods are highly desirable and tend to represent the higher end of the Portland market as walk scores flaunt national acclaim. 


SOUTHWEST - Downtown Portland lies in the Southwest section between the I-405 freeway loop and the Willamette River, centered around Pioneer Courthouse Square (“Portland’s living room”). The convenient Street Car, connected to the larger MAX light rail system, caters to the commuter-centric nature of this part of town, and Portland’s famously environmentally conscious residents.  Downtown is also home to many of Portland’s cultural and educational resources, such as the renowned Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, Portland Art Museum, Oregon Historical Society Museum, and Portland State University, with Oregon’s largest student body. Portland is known for its’ parks, and SW Portland is the proud home to many of them.

Washington Park has many attractions for visitors and locals such as the International Rose Test Garden and the Oregon Zoo.  Among others, the South Park Blocks, Lovejoy Park, and Tom McCall Waterfront Park, which serves as the grounds for great seasonal events such as the Waterfront Blues Festival and Oregon Brew Festival, all offer a break from the hustle and bustle of downtown City life. A short distance from the heart of downtown, the South Waterfront (a part of the South Portland neighborhood), is one of the largest green developments in the country.  It combines innovative ideas with a premiere riverfront location and high class living in residential towers. Beyond downtown, SW Portland also commands a steady flow of incoming residents due to the campuses of Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU), Lewis & Clark College, and Portland Community College/Sylvania.  The surrounding neighborhoods, like John’s Landing (also a part of South Portland), Hillsdale, and Multnomah, are filled with unique residential houses and well-defined commercial and retail districts.  With a great community feel, and an ever-growing number of shops and restaurants, these neighborhoods offer no small competition to the draw of the Eastside.

NORTH Portland, locally referred to as NoPo, is a mix of close-in residential hot spots, booming commercial districts, bustling industrial areas, and quiet neighborhoods with their own mini-downtowns.  Also known as “The Fifth Quadrant”, North Portland starts just across the river from downtown then sprawls along the Willamette River and up to the Columbia River and the edge of Oregon.

Close to downtown, and very bikeable, the Historical Mississippi District and the Vancouver/Williams corridor (aka Boise Elliot) are two of the hottest commercial districts in Portland.  They are lined with food carts, boutiques, coffee shops, and pubs and host a mix of old homes being rehabbed and new green urban housing projects.  The addition of the Max line on Interstate Avenue in 2004 gave a great boom to several NoPo neighborhoods further north including Overlook, Arbor Lodge and Kenton.

The University of Portland makes its home in the University Park neighborhood, which sits on the bluff with beautiful views of downtown and the West Hills.  St. John’s, Portland’s northernmost neighborhood, centers around quaint commercial district making it feel like a small town all its own.  Pier Park, on the edge of St. John’s, boasts one of the best Frisbee golf courses around and the St. John’s Bridge, one of Portland’s most scenic bridges, conveniently connects the area to NW Portland.