For quite some time I have been attempting to find my photographs of Portland's classical Chinese garden. They were taken soon after it was opened in 2001, but alas I have not yet been able to find these photographs.
However, the Classical Chinese Garden is a special place, because it is an attempt to restore respectability to what is called "Chinatown". The fact is, most of the Chinese and other Oriental businesses have moved to the 82nd Avenue area because they found the business climate there to be far better than that in "Chinatown". After decades of neglect, the effort was made to put some money into Chinatown. A new "entrance gate" was created at 4th and Burnside, but little else was done to attract anyone to this part of town.
Then, in 2001 the sister city relationship with a community in China came to fruition when the Portland Classical Chinese Garden opened up, as it restored some bit of Chinese culture to an area that was fast becoming a very run down part of the city.
The garden is walled off from the rest of the city - in order to help keep noise and other troubles of the area out. The area has been walled off into a number of different sub-gardens. On the north side of the garden is a "classical Chinese tea house" which has been modified only slightly from its Chinese design to accommodate modern building codes (it has an elevator for wheelchair access, for example). The pond is a primary feature of the gardens, and helps very much provide a bit of charm in an area that has all too much concrete (today this is somewhat less true with the new parks developed northwest of here, but still the area around the garden is particularly void of much else of beauty).
There are walkways, benches, and many many plants of various types, as you would expect.
I was especially interested in the special rocks that have been used here to decorate the garden. They are a special water-worn type that is only found in one part of China, and each has unique eroded hole patterns in it. These unique rocks lend a very other-world feel to the garden.
I can't say that this is a place that I visit very often due to the fairly high prices of the tickets and not really having that much to do once inside - it isn't really a place to spend vast hours of time. However, to visit once during your trip it may be worth considering if this sort of cultural attraction is your "cup of tea" as the saying goes.
Winter Hours (Nov 1 to March 31) are currently 10 am to 5 pm, and Summer Hours (April 1 to October 31) are 10 am to 6 pm. Admission is currently $8.50, with $7.50 for seniors, and $6.50 for students. Ages 5 and under are free of charge.
Unfortunately, there isn't too much anywhere near the Chinese Garden that is of additional interest. There are now a few tourist shops selling Chinese art type articles, but really there isn't a huge amount around the garden that would be of interest to most people. Several blocks to the southeast there is the Saturday Market on weekends only, and several stores near there are eccentric enough to be worth visiting. Powell's Books is up on 10th and Burnside.
Spend a relaxing morning or afternoon at the Chinese Garden. The city block sized walled garden offers visitors a secluded reatreat that lets you forget (almost) that just outside is the bustling city. I would also recomend the tour (check times prior to arrival if interested) to learn the history everything. If not, just relax in the beauty and enjoy some tea. The tea house is run by Tao of Tea (there are other portland locations) which has a large variety of loose teas served in traditional lidded cups, and also yummy moon cakes and other treats.
Open 7 days a week
November 1 - March 31: 10:00am - 5:00pm
April 1 - October 31: 9:00am - 6:00pm
Admission is $7 for adults,
$6 for seniors,
$5.50 for students,
children under 5 for free.
Chinese Gardens-if you feel the need for a peaceful moment. Peaceful in the middle of the city. The tea house is excellent. Black, oolong, white and green tea is available as well as pastries.
The gardens are absolutely beautiful for one thing. I could spend forever looking at the intracacies of a carved wall. It's supposed to be the only garden of its kind in the U.S.
I wish we could have visited Portland's famous Japanese garden, but there was just no way we could fit it into our schedule. Instead, my friend Sylvia and I decided to visit the Lan Su Chinese Garden since it's smaller and located closer to downtown. I can't say that I was expecting all that much, which is perhaps why I was so surprised to see all the beauty hidden within the garden's walls. The gardens were built in 1999-2000 in an effort to revitalize Portland's Chinatown. As our tour guide explained, even though Portland was once home to the second largest Asian community in the United States, after the 1942 Japanese American Internment, there were virtually no Asian citizens left in downtown Portland. In the late 1980s, the city made several efforts to rebuild Portland's Chinatown (that's when the Chinatown Gate was erected), but at the moment there are only 20 Asian shops or so in the area.
The Lan Su Garden, however, is truly worth visiting. Covering one city block, the garden was built with the help of 65 gardeners, landscapers and builders from Suzhou, Portland's sister city in China (in fact, "Lan Su" stands for Portland and Suzhou). The garden is home to over 400 species of trees, orchids, water plants and other fragrant and colourful plants. It also features some interesting examples of traditional Chinese architecture, including a beautiful tea house where visitors can go to enjoy light snacks, tea and sake. Plans are underway to further develop Portland's Chinatown, but in the mean time, the Lan Su Chinese Garden remains the highlight of the area and one of the city's hidden treasures.
The Lan Su Garden is open daily from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm, and admission costs $8.50.
Portland's Chinatown is the old area of town north of Downtown proper and just west of Old Town/Skidmore, although the lines between Chinatown, Old Town, and Downtown blur in reality and are somewhat arbitrary as the areas are all essentially "downtown" in character and location. The most obvious distinction is Burnside, the great north-south divider of Portland, which clearly separates Chinatown from Downtown proper.
This is an older part of the city, long a bit run-down, and an eclectic mix of places. It is partly spruced up, partly not, still with some empty lots and parking lots, flophouses and the like, but with some interesting buildings, restaurants, shopping, etc., as well as character. As for the Chinese element, there is still a Chinese presence, but it is more historical than a still currently Chinese-dominated area in the sense of the Chinatowns of San Francisco, Oakland, or Vancouver (BC).
When you tire of frenetic city life, take a break at the Portland Classical Chinese Garden and contemplate the flowering trees and waterfalls while you listen to calming music. If you're hungry, there's a tea house where you can choose from several kinds of teas and enjoy a light meal or savory snack. Browse through the gift shop, take a guided tour, or learn to tell your fortune the Chinese way.
There are special exhibits and activities at different times. When we were there, children were making colorful Chinese kites.
This is a non-profit organization, so admission is charged: $8.50 adults, $7.50 seniors, $6.50 students. Children under 5 free. I felt that the beauty and serenity were well worth the price of admission. To preserve the peace and quiet, cell phones must be turned off when entering the Garden.
Portland's core downtown area has been home to Chinatown and Japantown since the early 1900s, but business had dried up and the area was kind of run down. In the 1990s, the city began to redevelop the area, marking historic buildings, creating the Chinese gardens, and designating the New Chinatown/Japantown Historic District. Today there are a few dozen Chinese-owned businesses, but also a growing number of restaurants, nightlife, and shopping.
The Chinatown district is home to the Portland Chinese Classical Garden, the Japanese American Historical Plaza, Portland Saturday Market, the Portland Art Center, the Oregon Jewish Museum, the Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center, the Oregon Maritime Museum, and the Shanghai tunnels.
It is said that "in 1890 Portland's Chinatown had the second largest Chinese community in America". Dedicated in 1986, the Chinatown Gate is comprised of 5 roofs, 64 dragons and 2 huge lions. It commenorates 135 years of Chinese involvement in Portland's community.
Here is a picture of Portland's Chinatown Gate. Located here are also small quaint streets with gaslamp posts with different types of shops and restaurants.
We didn't have much time to explore Chinatown due to the rain, but we did explore the Chinese Gardens located here in Chinatown.
I was determined to see as many gardens and parks as time and the "rain" would allow me to visit. The Classical Chinese Gardens are located in Chinatown with easy accessability. We decided to start our garden and park visit here.
The garden is touted as the largest Suzhou style garden outside of China and although we were pleasantly surprised with the garden's beauty, it was hard for us to believe that it is considered large. In my opinion the garden is quite small, about a square block according to the official handout. You can easily spend a lazy afteroon here, but you can also enjoy it in as little as 1 1/2 hours if you are short on time. While you're visiting the garden why not take some time for some tea at one of the many tea houses found here in the garden.
CAUTION!! Please watch your step!! As you enter the garden you are advised of various tripping hazzards. You can also opt to do a audio tour, but it really isn't necessary, the plants and flowers are well "labeled".
Well let me say that I came here because Janet wanted to. It wasnt raining hard out and we wanted to see something of the town. Otherwise we would have arrived later with our other friend for more miles.
It took us about 40 minutes to tour the whole of the garden. We did not go in for the audio tour but walked around and took lots of pics. Ok. She took all the pics. Someone had to hold the umbrella over the camera...
In general they were nice. But I would not pay the $7 each again to do it.
If you are in Portland you need to visit the Chinese Gardens. I haven't been to China so I can't verify that the gardens are accurate to an actual Chinese Garden - but I have seen photos and think that the designers did their homework and the results are amazing.
The walkways are made from individual rocks and placed in astonishing patterns so that each is unique and interesting. Please click HERE to view some of the photos I took. You can easily spend the whole day there admiring the landscape and the beautiful woodwork. There is a lovely tea house at the edge of the pond where you can grab some tea and snacks. It is well worth the stop and they have a large selection of teas that you would not normally try so experiment.
Hours: November - March, 10 a.m. - 5 PM; April - October, 9 a.m. - 6 p.m.
This garden is a gem, a true oasis in the city! Located in Old Town/Chinatown, the garden covers an entire city block and is built in traditional Suzhou style (Portland's sister-city). When you go inside you forget you are in the middle of a city because it is so tranquil, but then you look up and are startled by the juxtaposition of modern buildings and curved Chinese roofs. There are various rooms connected by bridges and walkways around a central lotus-filled pond. Each plant, stone, window, and word means something in this garden. Come here to relax, enjoy the serenity, and perhaps take a cup of tea in the traditional Tea House.
Adult admission is $7.
Like New York, most of P-town's chinatown is bums laying around on street corners. The most that will happen is they will try to get spare change from you, but they will be there. It is getting developed, and they have just built a huge Japanese garden there, with a tea room, that serves literally hundereds of kinds of teas from around the world. See the Travelogue for some pics of the gardens.
Entering the gardens is a stark contrast to the dingy run-down chinatown streets nearby.
The place is very well kept and very nice to spend an hour or so.