The heart of downtown Portland, at the heart of Portland’s retail district and the city’s transit system, is a multi-tiered brick plaza nicknamed Portland's 'living room'. It is the most-visited public space in the city and a popular meeting spot.
When it isn't full of sunbathers or office workers lunching, the square hosts concerts, food and beer festivals, farmers markets, parades and demonstrations. In summer it hosts Friday-night movies – aka Flicks on the Bricks.
One of Portland's grandest Victorian hotels once stood here, but it fell into disrepair and was torn down in 1951. Later the city decided to build Pioneer Courthouse Square, and grassroots support resulted in a program that encouraged citizens to buy and personalize the bricks that eventually built the square. Names include Sherlock Holmes, William Shakespeare and Elvis Presley.
You can buy a brick for the plaza paving and leave your mark on the square still today for US$125.
Portland’s Christmas tree
Every year a giant Christmas tree is decorated and lit up with colorful Christmas lights in Pioneer Courthouse Square. This being Portland, you’ll want to know how sustainable that is, right? The tree is farmed and donated to the city by an Oregon timber company. In theory it's carbon neutral. Phew.
Across 6th Ave is the Pioneer Courthouse. Built in 1875, this was the legal center of 19th-century Portland.