Portland International Airport

LEGO masterpiece lands at PDX Airport

A new creation by Portland LEGO artist Erik Mattson is on display at Oregon’s Portland International Airport (PDX).

Mattson’s scale replica of Portland’s St. John’s Bridge is made with about 120,000 LEGO pieces and is 4-feet-tall, 2-feet-wide, and 32-feet-long. It is built to scale with one LEGO “Stud” equaling 1 foot.

The only part that isn’t made of LEGO pieces is the bridge suspension, which is made of fishing line.

Mattson’s LEGO version of the Portland’s St. Johns Bridge is in the Concourse DE display case through July 2020 as part of the PDX Rotating Art Program, which shared these images.

Here’s what the real St. John’s bridge looks like. The steel suspension bridge is the tallest bridge in Portland and spans the Willamette River in Portland.

Credit: Cacophony, via Wikimedia.

This isn’t the first LEGO creation Erik Mattson has shared with travelers passing through Portland International Airport. His 80,000-piece LEGO sculpture of Oregon’s iconic Multnomah Falls was on display in 2018.

Powell’s Books out at PDX Airport

Here’s yet another reason to curse COVID-19.

Powell’s Books has permanently closed both the store and the kiosk it operates at Portland International Airport.

Book lovers know Portland’s Powell’s Book as the iconic store that has been selling new and used books since 1971.

The company’s flagship location, Powell’s City of Books, in downtown Portland is a block long and boasts more than a million books. The store hosts hundreds of author readings and appearances each year.

The Powell’s Books branch at PDX is a rarity in airport book shops in that it carries new and used books and has been operating for 30 years.

Besides the joy of having a real bookstore at the airport, many travelers loved being able to order a book and pick it up at the airport on their way out of town. Or when they landed.

Better yet, the airport branch of Powell’s Book was located pre-security, with lot of other shops that draw locals as well.

Since Covid-19 blew in, Powell’s has shuttered all its locations, but is still offering shipping and pick-up. Powell’s plans to reopen its downtown flagship store and, perhaps, its other branches in town. But the company has decided that will not reopen its airport shop or the concourse kiosk.

“The privilege of welcoming book lovers to Portland, and sending Portlanders off on their travels with a good book in hand, has been a true gift, Emily Powell, CEO of Powell’s Books, said in a statement, “It’s hard for me to imagine our future without the airport, and without the airport’s seasoned team of booksellers.”

Shops closing at other airports too

Losing Powell’s Books at PDX is a heart breaker. But, sadly, it is not the only popular airport shop – or restaurant – that PDX and many other airports around the country are losing.

As passenger numbers stay in the dumps, many airport concessions can barely afford to stay open or reopen.

Post-pandemic, we’re sure to see a great many shuttered airport shops.

Travel Tidbits from an airport near you



Wouldn’t it be nice right now to be making your way to an airport and getting ready to visit a new city or an old favorite?

That time will come. For now, here are some tidbits from airports around the country.

Pay respects to civil rights icon John Lewis at ATL Airport

In April 2019, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) unveiled an exhibit in the domestic atrium titled “John Lewis – Good Trouble” to honor the longtime U.S. Congressman and civil rights icon.

Lewis died late last week, on July 17, and the exhibit has turned into a memorial tribute where travelers can stop and pay respects.

New Concourse E extension at PDX Airport

Courtesy Port of Portland

We shared the news last week about the opening of the new Concourse E extension at Portland International Airport (PDX).

Here’s a bit more about the project.

The extension brings the first new gates to PDX in more nearly 20 years and offers views of Mt. Hood and the Columbia Rivier.

The new concourse extension also features two aerial sculptures by Jacob Hashimoto featuring 11,000 paper kits and 450 different graphics representing Portland’s river, bridges, and neighborhoods.

Hashimoto’s PDX artwork may be familiar to travelers. He also has his work displayed at San Francisco International Airport (SFO), in the lobby of SFO Grand Hyatt.

A new concourse at Nashville International Airport too

Portland isn’t the airport that cut the ribbon on a new concourse last week.

On Friday, July 17, the first Southwest Airlines flight took off from Nashville International Airport’s (BNA) new $292 million Concourse D.

Fresh airport art in Portland, Orlando & San Francisco

Courtesy Port of Portland

We may be staying home but airports are open. And so are their art programs.

Here is some of the fresh art on view now at Portland International Airport (PDX), Orlando International Airport (MCO) and San Francisco International Airport (SFO)

New concourse; new art at Portland International Airport

On July 15 Southwest Airlines is moving from Concourse C to the new Concourse E extension at Portland International Airport. 

In addition to offering the airport’s best view of Mt. Hood, the new concourse has more concessions and a major new piece of art by Jacob Hashimoto.

Poetry exhibit at Orlando International Airport (MCO)

Orlando International Airport (MCO) is displaying it first-every poetry exhibition.

The show features poetry by 13 local writers, including Billy Collins, who is the former two-term Poet Laureate of the United States and the current Senior Distinguished Fellow at the Winter Park Institute.

Words in Flight – A Celebration of Orlando Area Poets includes poems inspired by the theme of flight, travel, and transformation paired with photographs from the airport’s archives.

Look for the exhibit through September 30, 2030 in the MCO Main Terminal, near the Checkpoint for Gates 70-129.

At SFO Airport: Eclectic Taste: Victorian Silver Plate

Courtesy SFO Museum

At San Francisco International Airport (SFO), the SFO Museum is hosting an exhibit of silver-plated housewares that show off the ornate Victorian style.

Courtesy SFO Museum

From the SFO Museum’s exhibit notes:

Produced in large quantities in England and the United States, silver plate was a hallmark of eclectic décor during the Victorian era (1837-1901).

By the late 1800s, many homes featured extensive collections of silver plate. The most elaborate items were found in the dining room and main parlor, where they served a variety of entertainment functions.

Ownership of silver plate became an indicator of social and economic status, and manufacturers created highly specialized and imaginative designs to meet consumer demand.

Courtesy SFO Museum

Eclectic Taste: Victorian Silver Plate is located post-security in SFO’s Harvey Milk Terminal 1 through December 13, 2020.

PDX: 5 Things We Love about Portland International Airport

Our “5 Things We Love About…” series celebrating cool features and amenities at airports around the country and the world continues today with a visit to Oregon’s Portland International Airport – PDX.

Keep in mind that some of the features we love at PDX may be currently unavailable due to health concerns. We are confident they will be back.

If we have missed an amenity at PDX that you love, please make a note in the comments section below. 

And let us know which airports you’d like to see profiled in a future episode of  “5 Things We Love About…

5 Things We Love About Portland International Airport

1. The movie theater at PDX

Portland International Airport is home to a 17 seat, post-security movie theater showing short films by Oregon filmmakers.

A branch of Portland’s historic Hollywood Theatre, the Hollywood Theatre at PDX offers a looped series of free films that change each quarter.

You can see the movies before or after a flight and online.

Here’s one filmed with just a drone that will get you up to date on Portland’s many bridges.

2. PDX Art Program

Artist: Deborah Butterfield

PDX has an extensive permanent and temporary art program that includes work throughout the terminal, on the airport drive, and out by at the MAX light rail station.

Homage to Flight – by Miles Pepper

The airport is getting ready to welcome a major new piece by Jacob Hashimoto in the new Concourse E extension, Southwest Airlines’ new home at PDX.

3. The Live Music at PDX

Musician Doug Shafer

Most every day you can hear and see live music in the PDX terminals.

The musicians are volunteering their time and talent. So, tip well and buy a souvenir CD if you can.

4. Food carts, coffee, and whiskey at PDX

Portland is serious about its coffee, its food carts, and its spirits.

And travelers can sample them all at PDX.

In addition to coffee drinks from Pete’s, Starbucks, Stumptown, Portland Coffee Roasters and Blue Star Donuts + Coffee, PDX has both a kiosk and tasting room for Portland-based Westward Whiskey. Hopworks Urban Brewery serves up seasonal and signature beers as well as grab-n-go beers.

        

In addition to many great places to eat, PDX also celebrates the local food cart scene with a changing array of food-cart venues in the pre-security Clocktower Plaza.

5. The shopping at PDX

Portland International Airport is a great place to shop.

Not only is there no sales tax in Oregon, but PDX requires its vendors to offer street pricing.

And, unlike many airports these days, many of the shops are in the pre-security area.

As a bonus, PDX has branches of many iconic and popular downtown shops, including Pendleton, Made in Oregon, Powell’s City of Books, Tender Loving Empire, The Real Mother Goose (crafts) and cc McKenzie (shoes and apparel).

Terrazzo floor art – Larry Kirkland

And what about PDX’s iconic, much-loved, and replaced carpet?

According to airport spokeswoman Kama Simonds, “The last remnant of the old carpet was removed from the threshold between the old and new parts of Concourse E and temporarily relocated to the space under Jacob Hashimoto’s artwork until the coffee kiosk opens in that space.”

Once that new coffee kiosk opens the last bit of the old PDX carpet will removed.

Sad? Yes. But it’s a good bet shops at the airport will continue to stock carpet-themed souvenirs for a long time to come.

Did we miss your favorite amenity at Portland International Airport (PDX?). Leave a note in the comments section below. And let us know, too, which airport you would like us to visit next.

All photos courtesy of Port of Portland