A hundred years ago, this was home to Portland's thriving Japantown and a diverse mix of Greek-, African American-, Native American- and Chinese-owned businesses. Then a world war, several decades of racist sentiment and redlining, and a heroin epidemic turned Portland's oldest neighborhood into its most neglected. But in 2019, Portland Trail Blazers and Clackamas High School teens alike head here for exclusive sneaker drops, more stores and restaurants are opening than closing, and there is a renewed sense of identity in Old Town 2.0. Affordable rental spaces cultivate a hub of young artists and craftspeople by day and cool pop-ups and block parties after hours. You also happen to be a hop, skip and scoot away from river views at Tom McCall Waterfront Park, and everyone's favorite fancy food court (Pine Street Market) just across West Burnside Street. Here is a perfect day in Old Town.
Coffee at Deadstock
In a few short years, Ian Williams' sneaker-themed Deadstock Coffee has morphed from a hole-in-the-wall upstart into a passionately safe space for Portland's sizable sneakerhead community and a consistent promoter of the coolest coffee and streetwear events in town.
The athletics-inspired vintage store just celebrated the move to the neighborhood, around the corner from the new Chinatown Museum. Shop racks of vintage Trail Blazers jerseys, Starter jackets sporting the logos of every NBA and NFL team across satin, and '90s memorabilia like proto-Britney Spears posters.
Lan Su Gardens
A few hours within this serene and beautiful oasis is among the best ways to spend $5 in the entire world. Among the—if not the—most authentic Chinese gardens outside of China, the city block-sized enclosed park feels much larger, with multiple galleries and a phenomenal traditional tea house situated around lush water features.
A revolution in slow fashion and repurposing vintage fabrics, this truly singular Japanese textile boutique comes from the heart and mind of Katsu Tanaka, Kiriko Made's owner and creative director, who opened Compound Gallery in 2002. Kiriko Made's blankets, bags, jackets and vintage Levi's are hand-repaired with imported vintage fabrics by one of Kanaoka's in-house seamstresses, humming away in the back of the cozy shop.
Finally, end your afternoon with a walk to paifang, admire one of the tallest Chinatown gates in the country, and step inside the adjacent Hoxton Hotel to see the newest side of the 'hood. Opened in 2018, the boutique hotel boasts a swanky rooftop bar (Tope) and a sprawling Mexican-inspired lounge on the main floor (La Neta), at both of which it's easy to spend an entire night and never get bored.