The Sylvan-Highlands Neighborhood is up at the top of the hill coming up from downtown Portland, it is one of the highest spots in Portland, topping out at 1100 feet, and gets more ice and snow than most of the other areas! It is bordered by the Forest Park, Hillside to the north, Arlington Heights to the east, the Southwest Hills neighborhoods to the west, and it also contains some of unincorporated Washington County to the far west. There is a somewhat rural feel up here, with large lots, narrow winding streets weaving their way through the forest, and not very many sidewalks! It is not walkable as far as getting to shops, restaurants etc, but there are lots of trails that go through the forest. It definitely feels more like a suburb than city, because most houses and lots are pretty secluded, park like and private- some with views, mostly of valley and coastal range.
The western part of Washington Park is in Sylvan-Highlands Neighborhood, the zoo you can access from Sylvan hill off 26 or from streets right in the neighborhood. There is also the Portland Children’s Museum, which is alot of fun for little ones-we take our grandchildren there alot! Also the Hoyt Arboretum with trails winding through all the different kinds of trees that were planted years ago, the World Forestry Center, and the Veterans Vietnam Memorial.
Most of the houses were built from the 1930’s on, because that was when the roads and other amenities started going in, especially around the Portland Raquet Club. It is continually growing, with new homes, condos and townhouses being added throughout the neighborhood. Since it is so close to Portland, and such a quick ride in, and also between Intel and Portland, it is a very popular place for people who commute to either area. 26 gets bogged down all the time, but from this neighborhood, you can get into the city using various different streets, and thus get around the traffic! Now Light Rail goes right along 26, so that offers riding the Max into town too, or into Hillsboro!
History of Sylvan-Highlands Neighborhood
The Sylvan-Highlands Neighborhood was first platted out in the 1850s with a dirt road that connected Portland to the rich farmland of the Willamette Valley so the crops could get to Portland for both shipping out, and for the city to use. It was called the Great Plank Rd, and pretty much followed the trail that 26 takes now.
Parks in Sylvan-Highlands Neighborhood
- Washington Park is partly in Sylvan, in fact, you can walk to it from some parts of the neighborhood. Oregon Zoo is a beautiful place with over 1000 animals, winding through the forest, easily accessed, with a zoo train that you can ride to take you to different parts. From Thanksgiving through Christmas, they have zoo lights, and the zoo is open later so you can walk through and see all the cool lights, some shaped like animals. It is really pretty!
- There is also the International Rose Test Garden (the oldest official rose test garden in the US), which is a gorgeous rose garden with stone steps going down, a stage, and a grass lawn to run and play on for kids.
- The Hoyt Arboretum is full of all the trees that were planted years ago. It is beautiful, serene, and huge!
- The World Forestry Center is an educational center about forests around the world, with hands on exhibits for kids- here is their blurb: Discover our Museum! Learn about forests through our hands on exhibits, meet woodland creatures, try river rafting, and climb on Peggy the Train, our logging locomotive, and enjoy forest inspired art at the gallery.
- The Portland Japanese Garden is absolutely gorgeous all times of the year, but especially in fall.
- The Portland Children’s Museum is a super fun place for kids, with imaginative play equipment like kitchens, restaurant, vet, doctors office, also play with bulldozers, a stage with dressup props and make up area, a creative shop area to make things out of wood, and a clay room to create clay creatures and have them fired!
This map shows all the different areas of Washington Park. Sylvan-Highlands Neighborhood is right at the top of the left hill