Updated on Thursday, April 1 to reflect change in closing date.
Is this the end of an era or just the start of a new one?
This week saw a bit of both, as we began to say goodbye to what was once the Oregon Market, what is now Clocktower Plaza and what will soon be the heart of the new main terminal.
The iconic timepiece was put in place in 1988, and while most of us weren’t at PDX 33 years ago, many of us were around for the 30th birthday celebration of what we now call Clocktower Plaza.
In those early days, most airport retail consisted of newsstands and duty-free shops, but businessman Sam Naito had a vision to sell Oregon products to people from around the world. Inspired by the shipping crates he saw in his Old Town business, Import Plaza, stating “Made in China” or “Made in England,” Naito opened the first “Made in Oregon” store at PDX in 1975.
Since then, PDX has been committed to representing local business, offering street pricing and serving travelers 365 days a year. Many of the original Oregon Market tenants such as Made in Oregon, Powell’s Books, Nike and The Real Mother Goose still had shops in the pre-security area until recently.
So what’s coming next? As we wrap up a week of tastings, giveaways and goodbyes with our partners at Tillamook, we’ll start preparing for the final farewell. The week of April 12, Clocktower Plaza will close forever…though our commitment to serving up pre-security food and drink will continue.
In April, Elephants will open two new locations (one in the ticket lobby near the former Starbucks and one between the escalators in the north baggage claim) and Travel Mart will open a new location up against the windows in baggage claim, about halfway between the two elevators. Plus, Portland Roasting and Peet’s Coffee in baggage claim aren’t going anywhere.
What’s more, the future vision will still have a plaza-like feel. Designs for the new main terminal take inspiration from the human-friendly scale of Portland’s blocks and the rhythm of your favorite neighborhoods. Expect to see independent storefronts clustered together along a tree-lined “street,” with musicians strumming guitars on the corner and café seating spilling out onto patios. [Bonus: We’re also working on a new installation that’s guaranteed to make you smile all the way through construction.]
So raise a glass of locally ground beans, locally brewed hops or locally grown grapes and pour one out for Clocktower Plaza (née Oregon Market) – and get ready for the ride of your life into the future of PDX.
P.S. Yes, we’re salvaging those clock faces, though for what future purpose remains to be seen…