Portland’s orderly structure of four geographically-determined neighborhoods separated nicely by Burnside and the Willamette River gets completely shoved to the side when you talk about North Portland.
Apparently, no one told the Willamette that it had a duty to complete, separating districts evenly, so instead of heading north, it turns northwest just about where Burnside crosses it. North Portland is thus defined as the area between the Willamette River on the west and Williams Avenue on the east. The Columbia River forms its northern boundary.
For the most part, traveling on the east side of Willamette is straightforward; the numbers on the numbered streets increase as you move away from the river. However, as you approach closer to the Willamette, the numbers increase in North Portland. You should be able to travel around as long as you remember that. Of again, because much of North Portland is residential, you may have no reason to visit. The following neighborhoods in North Portland may be discussed or visited:
Albina & Mississippi Avenues
Mississippi is actually very close to Alberta St. in Northeast Portland, and the two streets together form the center of a nice arts community. Many local artists and musicians live around here, including some who are well-known nationally. It’s a mainly residential area, but Mississippi Avenue itself has a fun collection of restaurants and shops. Nearby Albina also has some interesting places to eat and browse.
This area is in far North Portland, near where the two rivers meet, and is almost like its own small town as opposed to being part of Portland. Much of the neighborhood is industrial, full of warehouses and cargo facilities, but conversely, St. Johns is also home to lots of parks and green spaces. Despite the name, the St. Johns Bridge does not actually touch the St. Johns neighborhood.
Portland International Raceway
PIR, as it’s commonly known locally, is in North Portland on the west side of I-5 in what’s called the Delta Park area. It hosts an annual Champ Car race each summer, but there are events going on throughout the year as well. There’s a MAX Light Rail stop just under a mile away from PIR, so it’s relatively easy to get to – which is good because during popular events parking and driving to and from the track can be a pain. You can find out about events happening at PIR here. The track is built on the site of the former public housing city of Vanport, which was destroyed by a flood in 1948 and never rebuilt.
University of Portland
This is a private Catholic school, most recently well-known for the success of its women’s soccer team. It’s near the St. John’s neighborhood.