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Old Town / Chinatown

Photo of Old Town / ChinatownThe site of Portland’s earliest commercial development, the Old Town/Chinatown area is rich in culture and historic buildings that evoke the city’s early years. More than 40 percent of the area lies within two historic districts: the Skidmore/Old Town Historic District and New Chinatown/Japantown Historic District.

Skidmore/Old Town is home to one of the largest collections of 19th century commercial cast iron buildings in the country and is designated as a National Historic Landmark. New Chinatown/Japantown commemorates Portland’s 19th and early 20th century Asian heritage.

NW Broadway runs through the western portion of the area, connecting downtown to iconic Union Station and the Broadway Bridge. 

2035 Vision

Old Town/Chinatown is a vibrant, resilient, 24-hour neighborhood rooted in a rich cultural and historical past. The district’s two thriving historic districts, numerous multi-cultural attractions and higher education institutions foster a thriving mix of office employers, creative industry start-ups, retail shops and a range of entertainment venues, restaurants and special events.

The district has a balanced mix of market rate, student and affordable housing. Its social service agencies continue to play a critical public health role within the Portland region. The district has a mix of human-scaled, restored historic buildings and contextually sensitive infill development.

It is well connected to the rest of the Central City and the region through excellent multi-modal transportation facilities and safe and attractive street connections to adjacent neighborhoods and an active riverfront.

2035 Vision 3D Map

Between 2010 and 2035, Old Town/Chinatown is expected to grow by 2,000 households and 3,000 jobs, for a total of 3,900 households and 8,200 jobs. This rendering illustrates a possible development scenario approximating future growth. The arrows illustrate a potential “Green Loop” alignment and key flexible street connections leading to the river and adjacent neighborhoods.

Key Elements

  • Highlight the intersection at Broadway and Burnside
  • Strengthen east-west connections between the North Park Blocks and the river
  • Explore development of a multi-cultural history center
  • Create a 4th Avenue main street

Urban Design Concept

Old Town Chinatown Urban Design ConceptOld Town/Chinatown has several distinct subareas: the Skidmore/Old Town Historic District to the south, the New Chinatown/Japantown Historic District flanked by the NW Glisan Street corridor to the north, and the NW Broadway area to the west.

While this area already features some signature public attractions including the Lan Su Garden and Union Station, it could benefit from new ones, including a possible Multi-Cultural History Center and a new public space at the intersection of Broadway and West Burnside Street.

Key intersections and gateways include the Burnside and Steel bridgeheads as well as the Chinatown Gate at West Burnside Street and 4th Avenue.

The concept diagram also highlights the desired retail/commercial character of West Burnside Street, NW Broadway, NW Glisan Street and NW 4th Avenue; the desired boulevard character of NW 5th and 6th avenues, Naito Parkway and NW Everett Street; and the flexible character and key east-west connections of NW Flanders and Davis streets to the Willamette River Greenway trail.

View full-size maps in the PDF version of the Central City Districts.

Read about the Goals and Policies in the Draft Plan that will help with implementing the 2035 Vision and Urban Design Concept.