The Chinese New Year is upon us and I’m all set to enjoy the rich culture found in one of Portland’s oldest communities, the Northwest District’s Chinatown.
Portland’s Chinatown was a busy center of West Coast immigration in the late 1850s, attracting thousands Chinese and Japanese workers and making the 14-block area in Old Town second only to San Francisco in total Asian population.
The famous 38-foot tall Chinatown Gateway located at West Burnside Street and Northwest Fourth Avenue is a recent, but beautiful addition to Chinatown. Constructed of bronze, marble, granite, wood, tile, and steel, it features 78 dragons and 58 mythical characters set against the iconic red color of good fortune. Chinese calligraphy on the front reads “Portland Chinatown” and “Four Seas, One Family” on the back.
You’ll see that same iconography on businesses, restaurants, street signs and streetlights throughout Chinatown.
The Lan Su Chinese Garden at 239 NW Everett Street is the centerpiece of this historic neighborhood. The 40,000 square foot garden a beautiful, authentic representation of a Ming Dynasty garden, incorporating art, architecture, design and nature into a harmonious landscape, all within a city block. Designed and built in collaboration with Portland’s sister city Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, it is based on a 2,000-year-old Chinese traditional design that includes a central lake, pavilions, courtyards and hundreds of plant species native to China. Lan Su hosts events and classes throughout the week, including tea tastings, lecture series, art shows and concerts.
Start the Year of the Rooster off right in Portland’s Chinatown! During the two weeks of Chinese New Year celebrations (January 28 to February 12), Lan Su will be the center of activity, with dragon dances, martial arts and cultural performances, family friendly craft activities, calligraphy demonstrations, Chinese folk art installations, a wishing tree, and several lanterns evenings are planned. Check their event calendar for more information.