Brian's Photo Blog — Article 571
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Two Hours in Portland’s Pearl District
Thursday 9 June 2016   —   Category: Outings
In early May when I went to Portland for yet another volunteer session at Free Geek, I took the opportunity to make a short visit to the Pearl District in northern downtown before spending the afternoon in a computer-recycling warehouse.

I normally try to use Portland’s wonderful TriMet public trans­por­ta­tion system as much as possible on my visits to the Big City. On this occasion I parked at the Clackamas Town Center Transit Center and took a MAX Green Line train for a half-​hour ride to the Lloyd District.

From there I caught a Portland Streetcar train, and ten minutes later I was in the Pearl District, at the corner of NW Northrup Street and 10th Avenue.

The first thing I noticed was window washers dangling from the brand-new, 28-floor, 340-foot Cosmopolitan on the Park con­do­min­i­ums. It is now the tallest building in the Pearl District, and both the 8th-tallest building and the tallest residential tower in Portland. To see this building during construction, follow the links to pictures I took in March 2015 and in October 2015.
Adjacent to both The Cosmopolitan and the Streetcar stop is Tanner Springs Park, which occupies a full city block. It re­cre­ates, in a small way, the wetlands which covered the Pearl District before Port­land was settled and developed.

The park also features the unusual, 200-​foot Artwall sculpture, by award-​win­ning German architect Herbert Dreiseitl, which was created from 368 reclaimed railroad rails.
I had already walked around some of the northern end of the Pearl District on pre­vi­ous trips in March and in April of last year. I had also traversed the western side of the Pearl on my first pub crawl.

For this visit I decided to head south so I could explore the central and southern parts of the District. It turned out that there was a lot to see, admire and pho­to­graph.
For most of its history this half-​square-​mile section of downtown Portland was an industrial warehouse district. But since the mid-1980s it has been un­der­go­ing significant urban renewal which has been so successful that the Pearl District is now one of Port­land’s hottest and most-​expensive real estate markets.

As you can see from the photos on this page, the renewal has consisted of both new, modern construction as well as the renovation and restoration of many cen­tu­ry-​old (or more) historic buildings.
The Pearl District also has a thriving restaurant scene. Because of my newly-developed and growing desire to eat ad­ven­tur­ous­ly — but not too far out of the box — I decided to have lunch at Zaatar Fine Lebanese Cuisine, in the ground floor retail space of The Greg­ory con­do­min­i­ums, on the corner of NW Flanders Street and 11th Avenue.
Although I had scoped out the place on the Web ahead of time, I was still a bit apprehensive because this was my first time eating at a Lebanese restaurant. To my provincial American mind it sounded pretty exotic!

Before the main course I was served a large but light pita bread with some tasty za’atar dip (made with olive oil).
When in Lebanon, do as the Lebanese. This for sure wasn’t the proper occasion to drink local Oregon beer or wine!

So with the meal I enjoyed a glass of award-winning Château Ksara Le Prieuré 2010 from Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley.

After thousands of years of winemaking heritage in the region, the Château Ksara winery was founded in 1857 by Jesuit priests.

But with the increasing domination of totalitarian Islamic ide­ol­o­gy in the region, its days may be numbered. Such is “progress” in our “enlightened ” era.
I didn’t get too far into the wine and pita before the Lamb Shawarma Plate which I had ordered was set before me. The menu described it as:

“ Tender lamb care­ful­ly seasoned and slowly marinated, freshly grilled and served with tahini sauce, garlic, lemon juice, seasoned onions, with basmati rice and fresh pita.”

The meal was very, very good! I am definitely going to have to return and try this dish again, as well as some of their other offerings.
After the excellent lunch I wandered around some more, admiring buildings, both old and new, as well as other in­ter­est­ing sights.

Out of the 82 photos I took during my two-hour mini-ramble, the best 36 can be viewed in the new Portland Pearl District 2016 album.
Eventually I made it to the North Park Blocks. I had already explored the more extensive South Park Blocks on a pre­vi­ous outing, but this was the first time I had strolled through the smaller sister park to the north.

Especially photogenic is the 11 by 14 by 6-foot Chinese bronze elephant Da Tung and Xi’an Bao Bao sculpture at the south end of the park, just north of West Burn­side Street.

On that high note my short but sweet Pearl District outing came to an end.
Brian's Photo Blog — Article 571
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