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Pearl District, Portland, Oregon facts for kids

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Pearl District
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Coordinates: 45°31′48″N 122°40′53″W / 45.53012°N 122.68136°W / 45.53012; -122.68136Coordinates: 45°31′48″N 122°40′53″W / 45.53012°N 122.68136°W / 45.53012; -122.68136PDF map
Country United States
State Oregon
City Portland
 • Total 0.47 sq mi (1.21 km2)
 • Total 5,997
 • Density 12,840/sq mi (4,956/km2)
 • No. of households 5315
 • Occupancy rate 79% occupied
 • Owner-occupied 1493 households (28%)
 • Renting 2699 households (51%)
 • Avg. household size 1.13 persons

The Pearl District is an area of Portland, Oregon, formerly occupied by warehouses, light industry and railroad classification yards and now noted for its art galleries, upscale businesses and residences. The area has been undergoing significant urban renewal since the mid-1980s when it was reclassified as mixed use from industrial, including the arrival of artists, the removal of a viaduct and construction of the Portland Streetcar. It now consists of industrial building conversion to offices, high-rise condominiums and warehouse-to-loft conversions.

The increase of high-rise condominiums and warehouse-to-loft conversions was made evident with the construction of the Cosmopolitan on the Park building, which opened in Summer 2016. The Cosmopolitan on the Park residential building is now the tallest building in the Pearl District and the 8th tallest building in Portland, contributing to the changing Portland skyline.


The area was formerly used for warehousing, light industrial purposes and a railroad yard and was known as the "Northwest Industrial Triangle".

In the 1990s, the Lovejoy Viaduct, an elevated portion of NW Lovejoy Street from the Broadway Bridge past NW 10th Avenue was demolished, opening dozens of surrounding blocks (including some brownfield sites) for development, which peaked in the 2000s. The viaduct was notable for the Lovejoy Columns, painted by a railroad watchman who worked below; two of them have been saved. The increasing density has attracted a mix of restaurants, brewpubs, shops, and art galleries.

The origins of how the Pearl District got its name is still up for debate. According to the Pearl District Business Association, Thomas Augustine, a local gallery owner, coined the name Pearl District around the turn of the millennium to suggest that some of its urban decay industrial buildings were like crusty oysters, and that the galleries and artists' lofts within were like pearls. However, in 2002, Thomas Augustine amended his story, suggesting that the idea for the Pearl District came from his friend Pearl Marie Amhara who would throw parties for creatives in warehouses in what is now considered the Pearl District. Attendees started calling the area “Pearl’s place” and “Pearl’s District”. Local business people were looking to label the growing area and the name finally caught on when a writer for Alaska Airlines borrowed and popularized Augustine's phrase. The "warehouse district" or the "brewery district" were two other suggestions that are still used today.

The movie Drugstore Cowboy (1989), by Gus Van Sant, has several scenes shot in the neighborhood.

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