Chinese American culture

Check out these places to experience Portland's Chinese American heritage.

Lan Su GardenA respite from the bustle of Portland's Chinatown awaits at Lan Su Chinese Garden.

This section was produced in collaboration with The Portland Chinese Times, a locally published, weekly Chinese-language newspaper that is an important resource for the community.


Portland’s historic Old Town Chinatown district is the symbolic heart of the earliest Chinese community in the greater Portland area. South of the Broadway Bridge and behind the Chinatown Gate, this neighborhood is rich in history.

The district’s streets are decorated with 57 ornamental street lights, painted red and gold to signify good luck and prosperity. The “Underground Portland” walking tour from Portland Walking Tours lets visitors explore the hidden history of the Old Town Chinatown neighborhood. This tour includes a glimpse into the legendary “Shanghai Tunnels” hidden below the streets of Chinatown.

Today, relatively few Chinese businesses remain in Old Town Chinatown, but the district is still home to most of the city’s Chinese associations or tongs, Lan Su Chinese Garden and the Chinatown Gateway, and it hosts regular cultural events.

Chinatown Gateway

The Chinatown Gateway serves as an impressive opening to Portland’s Chinatown. The Chinese characters “Four Seas, One Family” written on the upper part of the gate mean no matter where we came from we belong to one family. On either side of the gate are two lions, who act as guardians protecting Chinatown. The female lion on the right side and the male on the left signify the balance of yin and yang.

Lan Su Chinese Garden

The Lan Su Chinese Garden is an authentically built Ming Dynasty style garden developed as a friendship project between Portland and its sister city of Suzhou, China. Sixty Chinese artisans spent months lending their talent and expertise to the elegant design of this walled garden, which occupies an entire city block in Portland’s Old Town Chinatown District. The final result: serpentine walkways, ponds, bridges, a tea house and a meticulous landscape of rock groupings, delicate trees, sculpted shrubs, lattice screens and pavilions.

Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association (CCBA)

A Chinese-language school has operated continuously in the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association (CCBA) building since 1908. The museum on the fourth floor contains historic artifacts depicting the Chinese people’s contribution to the development of the Pacific Northwest. The museum is open to the public on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The Jade District: Portland’s “New Chinatown”

A vibrant hub of Asian culture focused around the intersection of Southeast 82nd Avenue and Division Street, the Jade District is marked by shops, restaurants and services that epitomize the unique character of this Southeast Portland neighborhood. Designated by the City of Portland in 2011 as a micro-urban renewal area, the community features assets as diverse as the Fubonn Shopping Center — the largest Asian shopping center in the state — Harrison Park School and the new, fast-growing Southeast campus of Portland Community College (PCC), as well as a mix of immigrant-owned businesses.

The Jade District International Night Market represents the latest efforts to celebrate the area’s rich heritage and thriving community. The second annual market is set for two Saturdays nights in August 2015 (Aug. 15 and 22) at the PCC Southeast campus and the new JADE/APANO (Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon) Multicultural Space just across the street. From 5 to 10 p.m., more than 20,000 visitors will enjoy multi-ethnic food and retail wares, a beer garden, a farmers market, live entertainment and activities for the whole family.

Additionally, tours of the district are available by request through APANO.

Portland Art Museum

Six galleries at the Portland Art Museum exhibit Chinese, Korean and Japanese art from the museum’s collection of nearly 4,000 Asian artworks. The Chinese collection spans the Neolithic to the modern periods, with strong representation in ceramics — primarily tomb objects — from the Han and Tang dynasties. Other holdings in Chinese art include furnishings and decorative arts.

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