At one point the Old Town neighborhood was referred to as the “Night Life District”. It’s not quite clear when the upgraded title of the “Portland Entertainment District” was awarded, or by whom. Most locals seem to have become familiar with the neighborhood’s new name after the pilot program for a pedestrian only “entertainment zone” was implemented on New Years Eve of 2012. Since then the permit has had to be renewed annually.
The barricades are in place on Friday and Saturday nights from 10pm to 3am. Just last month the Oregonian reported that crime had dropped by 30 percent. Socialites are able to stroll between venues without fighting against traffic and the police presence supports safety overall. Bar owners have requested more stop signs and crosswalks for aid in traffic management.
Last August the Portland Mercury reported that the OLCC began accepting applications for extended seating into the city’s cordoned streets of Old Town. Dixie Tavern was said to be the first to apply. Other venues such as Easy Company & Jones Bar followed have suit.
City Officials are proposing a “Late Night Activity Permit” to address funding concerns and curtail incidents requiring direct police involvement. Bar owners can offer their patrons are more secure experience knowing there’s crowd safety management in place. Walking traffic is encouraged and the cabs are plentiful within the district. Some residents have suggested keeping the traffic ban 24/7 as with Ankeny Street SW and NW Kearney in the Pearl District.
As it stands, the program is still in the experimental stage and will soon be up for renewal.