Located north of downtown and east of the Pearl District, Chinatown isn’t quite as large as in other cities in the western US. The Chinese gates (NW 4th Avenue and Broadway) and red lamp posts mark the area. China town has a couple of gift shops, a few uninspired as well as a couple of very good Chinese restaurants, and the Chinese Gardens (NW Everett and 3rd AVE), which are well worth a visit.
The Old Town part of this area is meshed with Chinatown. Old Town is most famous for its Shanghai Tunnels. In days gone by, unsuspecting revelers who had a little too much to drink were sometimes kidnapped and imprisoned in special rooms under the pubs of the river-front bars and then moved through tunnels to the embankment where they were sold to ship captains as unwilling crew for pan Pacific voyages. You can still tour the tunnels that are located under Hobo’s restaurant and lounge (NW 3rd Avenue between Couch and Davis Streets).
Old town still has a lively bar and lounge scene, though much safer than it used to be. On Friday and Saturday nights most of the bars and clubs are standing room only with a wait at the door. A couple of the livelier venues include the Someday Lounge (Davis and 6th), which often has live entertainment, and the Dixie Tavern (Couch and 3rd), which features a mechanical bull for patrons willing to try their luck. A little more upscale and subdued atmosphere can be found at The Gilt Club (Everett and Broadway) and Hobo’s, which is an Old Town mainstay. Also of note for Old Town is Portland’s drag cabaret, Darcelle XV. This Portland Institution has had its doors open for almost 40 years and has become a favorite stopping off point for bachelorette parties.
There are really only two condo complexes in the area (see below) with one possibility in the works. The East of Pearl is a conversion project of the deco warehouse located on Glisan Street at 3rd Ave. According to the Portland Area Business Association (PABA), early plans for the project foresaw 8 floors of business space, 2 floors of housing plus a rooftop restaurant and garden. I’m keeping my eye on this project to see what ultimately ends up getting done here.
Old Town’s East of Pearl Project