The Alphabet District is really not just one neighborhood. It encompasses everything from the Willamette River up the hillside to about NW 28 th and from West Burnside all the way north to Thurman-at least technically! The reason it is called the Alphabet District is that when the founding fathers of Portland first started naming the streets, they decided to start the names with A-Z- beginning one street south of Burnside and going out north as far as the streets would go. It makes it easy to know what street comes next when you are on the NW side of downtown Portland .
This area includes the Pearl District, the NW Industrial, the NW 23 District- which is a shopping area that is lined with clothing boutiques and other upscale retail, mixed with cafes and restaurants. This area is also known as Uptown (particularly its southern end near W Burnside St. ) and includes Nob Hill (which is centered on NW 23rd Ave. and NW Lovejoy St.), and the NW 21 st area, which is the other main commercial district and is especially known for it's dining and entertainment, with popular restaurants, an independent film theater, and numerous bars, pubs, and nightclubs.
I love the Alphabet District, especially the big Old PDX style homes that line the streets around Everett, Flanders , Hoyt and some of the other streets- some of them are absolutely gorgeous with Victorian Gingerbread and other details- some have been made into duplexes or multi-plexes, and others have been made into shops or offices or other businesses. Some are still just big old houses that people live in. When you go inside, you'll see hardwood and fir floors, beautiful ornate woodwork and built-ins, big fireplaces, open staircases and landings- they are slowly being restored to their former glory. It's really exciting to see it all happening!
I also love the shopping district around NW 23 rd . It's almost like going to other countries as you explore some of the shops- the sights, and sounds and smells take you to a completely different part of the world..Africa, India , China , the middle east and all over! And the restaurants! You can eat outside like you are in Rome or Paris or somewhere exotic- watching all the different types of people stroll by while you eat your ethnic meal. It's like going on vacation just being there for a few hours!
The other area that is interesting- which I've written a whole big chapter on- is the Pearl . It runs from Broadway to 405 and West Burnside to Lovejoy. It is a little city in itself- and one of the most expensive places when you figure price per SF- A lot of people love it because of it's open rooms, big windows and proximity to shops and restaurants- and easy care simple style.
Maps and links