Formerly known as the Alphabet District, Nob Hill is a trendsetting neighborhood for singles, families and urban professionals. The well-heeled area draws shoppers and city dwellers looking for charming boutiques and upscale shops. Businesses and retailers are nestled directly inside converted Victorian and craftsman homes to create a charming backdrop for the neighborhood.
Nob Hill is a historic neighborhood with century homes lining the streets alongside modern apartment complexes. The area is mesmerizing for architecture lovers, with notable original detailing bringing character to the buildings around the neighborhood.
Where is Nob Hill?
Nob Hill encompasses Northwest 21st and 23rd Avenues and West Burnside Street to Northwest Thurman Street. Several other trendy neighborhoods brush up against Nob Hill’s borders, including the Pearl District, Downtown Portland and Goose Hollow.
Captain John Heard Couch, a seafarer who founded Oregon’s first newspaper, saw a vision for Portland’s Northwest section. He envisioned Portland’s position along the Willamette and Columbia Rivers as a grand commercial epicenter and got busy developing the area.
The Captain’s plans didn’t quite come into fruition, but many of the streets were once named after letters like “A Street” and lent the inspiration for its original name, the Alphabet District.
What to Do
Nob Hill is regarded as a ritzy urban neighborhood where locals and tourists crowd the streets looking for a café to watch while sipping a cappuccino. The community is also rich with galleries and boutiques, and some upscale chain retailers like Girl and Eclectic Home. Your dollar may not go as far in Nob Hill as other Portland neighborhoods, but there’s no sales tax in Oregon, offering more incentives to come and spend.
There’s life beyond shopping and high-end restaurants in Nob Hill. Sports fans aren’t far from Goose Hollow’s Providence Park off of Burnside. The Artist’s Repertory Theater and Cinema 21 are also hotspots for classic entertainment.
Green space is scarce around Nob Hill, but there are 5,000 acres to explore in Forest Park just east of Nob Hill. The park features 70 miles of hiking and biking trails along wooded parkside trails. The 30-mile Wildwood Trail spans across Forest Hill and connects the park to the Audubon Society Society and Washington Park.
The city’s mantra is “Keep Portland Weird,” and Nob Hill and the Northwest District uphold this badge of honor. You won’t find as many funky boutiques in the neighborhood, however, there are gems like The FreakyButTrue Peculiarium and Museum. Bigfoot greets customers to the oddities museum, ice cream parlor, gift shop and art gallery where you might see an alien autopsy table.
Where to Eat & Drink
Nob Hill is known for its dining scene and eclectic fare. Locals savor authentic dishes and traditional Moroccan ingredients at Marrakesh Restaurant. Plates of lamb couscous are worth the wait but don’t be in a hurry to go. For upscale French cuisine, Restaurant St. Jack serves up mussels, steak fries and escargot.
Nob Hill’s gastronomic scene boasts local, organic ingredients. Travel enthusiasts gather at the travel-themed North 45 pub. Belgian beers, rotating wines and global cuisine include Banh Mi French dip roasted pork loin and drinks like Barbados Barrel Roll.
The Fireside warm up patrons on those chilly, rainy months in Portland. Stay for plates of Kale Pesto Pasta or Oregon King Salmon near the dual fireplaces. Sweets and cocktails are also on the menu, like fireside S’mores and cheesecake in a jar complemented by gin and rum drinks like a pink flamingo.
Moving to Nob Hill
Real Estate Snapshot
The upscale enclave of Nob Hill is among the city’s most expensive rents. Renting apartments within gorgeous Victorian homes is common, and there are luxury condos and apartment buildings with high-end amenities to choose from.
Rents are climbing in Nob Hill, where luxury condos and upscale living are the norm. It’s also among the most expensive neighborhoods in Portland to live in. But the upscale living and historic, urban charm are worth the trade-off for many residents. The average rent for Nob Hill apartments currently runs $1,745, which is higher than Portland’s average of $1,484.
Despite all of the commercial growth in Nob Hill and Portland’s Northwest area, new residential development is also on the horizon. The Historic Landmarks Commission approved a proposal for multifamily development in the neighborhood.
Getting around Nob Hill by car proves challenging, and parking is nearly impossible. Locals don’t bother and walk or bike instead as the preferred mode of transportation. Like everywhere in Portland, bike culture is alive and well in Nob Hill. Cyclists can park at the BikeTown stations to explore the neighborhood or get to and from work. And when wheels are necessary, it’s best to grab an Uber or Lyft to avoid the tangles.
It’s also easy to jump on the Portland Streetcar that runs from the North to South loop. Getting to Max lines to commute or get around the rest of the city is also a breeze.
Schools & Employment
Families settle in Nob Hill for the community vibe and schools. Parents send their kids to nearby public schools or private options. Higher education is available at nearby Portland Community College Downtown Center, Oregon State University and Portland State University, a short bike ride or walk away.
Retail and dining are major employers around the neighborhood. There are over 1,700 businesses situated in the Nob Hill area, from shopping to service businesses. Locals also aren’t far from major employers like Oregon Health & Science University and Downtown Portland’s dozens of hotels and other retail destinations.
Ready to live in Nob Hill and enjoy the best in dining, shopping and tree-lined streets? Start apartment hunting on RENTCafé and settle into this well-heeled neighborhood with historic charm.