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High walls keep out street noise and bring inner peace within reach.
I can attest to Lan Su’s quiet power – I meant to zip through in 10 minutes and ended up staying for 30.
Instead of a self-contained block, this space is an irregularly shaped collection of thematic settings: a bonsai display, a meticulously arranged riverine landscape, and a perfectly pruned shrub garden. It contains a host of native and nonnative species – more than 2,000 in all, many of which are marked with helpful Latin and English placards.
CGS provides flashlights, but you’re welcome to bring your own.
It also recommends dust masks for people with respiratory issues, as the underground air quality is pretty poor.
It’s all the more remarkable for what happened after the Pittocks left: In 1962, a violent storm seriously damaged the then-vacant house, exposing its interior to the elements for 18 months and requiring a marathon 15-month restoration project. Calling Powell’s a bookstore is like calling the Louvre an art museum: technically accurate, but wildly understated.
The flagship location on Burnside (on the northern fringe of downtown Portland) contains more than a million individual volumes.