Portland ’s modern downtown core is located on a broad ledge of land between the north-flowing Willamette River and a steep volcanic ridge just to the west called the West Hills . These “hills” are more accurately called the Tualatin Mountains, and they form a backdrop that towers over 1,000 feet above downtown. The forested West Hills are home to one of Portland’s oldest and most beautiful residential neighborhoods and to Washington Park , the city’s grandest.
Portland’s city center is a safe, pleasant area with lots of green spaces and tree-lined streets. Cafés and bars spill onto the pavement, and a handsome blend of modern office towers and turn-of-the-20th-century storefronts and office buildings lends architectural interest.
What Portland doesn’t have is massive skyscrapers. Building heights are restricted to no more than 400 feet to maintain the city’s “human scale” (and to preserve views of Mount Hood  from the affluent West Hills). In addition, city blocks in downtown Portland are only 200 by 200 feet (by contrast, blocks in Salt Lake City are 780 feet square) which makes the city seem more accessible, pedestrian-friendly, and fun and easy to explore.
The best introduction to downtown Portland  is a walking tour that also takes advantage of the city’s excellent mass transit. You should also ask for a free Walking Tour Map of Portland published by Powell’s Books  and available from the bookstore or from various other tourist offices throughout the city.