Do you plan your Friday nights around the appearance of Blutbaden, Hexenbiester, Fuchsbau, and other Wesen? Then you must be a big fan of NBC’s odd but intriguing Grimm. And most likely, you’ll also plan your next trip to Portland, Oregon around some of the show’s most notable filming locations.
If you haven’t seen Grimm, here’s a quick explanation. Nick Burkhardt is a Portland police officer, who discovers he’s inherited something that runs in his family — the ability to see the scary faces of animal-like people, who appear normal to everyone else. He’s a Grimm, just like his aunt, who passed away at the start of the series, leaving him with an Airstream trailer full of Grimm history.
Those creatures are called Wesen (prounounced VESS-en), and they can usually hide their wild side to most people. When they transform, it’s called Woge (prounced VO-gah). There are dozens of kinds of Wesen — some are meek and shy, but most are pretty nasty, mean, and strong. Reformed Wesen, like Nick’s friend Monroe (a Blutbad, or werewolf), have learned to control their urges, and live like normal people. But, most are still pretty leery of Grimms, since the Grimms have a long history of slaughtering Wesen. But not Nick. At least, most of the time.
For some reason, Portland, Oregon seems to be ground-zero for Wesen-on-Human crimes, and Nick’s ability to identify the creatures comes in very handy.
Yeah, I know the plot sounds a little ridiculous. I’m surprised I’ve gotten sucked into it.
There are filming locations all around Portland, Oregon. I decided to seek out a handful of the most regularly-seen ones:
Nick and Juliette’s House: 805 NE Prescott Street
Monroe’s House: 418 SW Hamilton Street
Aunt Marie’s Trailer: 2030 NW 17th Avenue
The Police Station: U. S. Custom House, 220 NW 8th Avenue
If you jump down to the bottom of the page, you can watch a Drivelapse video of the drive between these locations.
The map below was not created by me. It comes from information posted on mysouthwaterfront.com, which is a great resource for the latest filming locations.
I’m pretty certain that Nick and Juliette’s House has appeared in almost every episode of Grimm.
The house is located at 805 Northeast Prescott Street. I was surprised by a couple of things: one, it’s mostly obscured by trees — I thought it would be much easier to see from the road. Two, the neighborhood isn’t quite as grand as I was expecting. Just a block or two away, in any direction, there are much smaller and less-expensive homes.
The best view of Nick and Juliette’s house is from the southeast corner of the property, where a break in the trees provides a clear view.
Standing in the middle of 8th Avenue, you can see the side of the house. During my visit in 2013, it looked like some construction work was taking place inside the home. From what I’ve read, there is a family of normal, non-Grimms who live here. Please respect their privacy and only take photos from the sidewalk.
As I left Nick and Juliette’s House, I took a drive that would be very familiar to Nick. He’s always headed to Aunt Marie’s trailer in the middle of the night to look up information on the latest Wesen he’s encountered.
The trailer is kept in a storage lot, below the Fremont Bridge, not far from the Willamette River.
Sadly, there wasn’t an Airstream parked in this lot, located at 17th Avenue and Front Street. In fact, I didn’t think this lot looked much like the one I remember from the show. The bridge is in the right place, but I don’t recall seeing all of those new condos/apartments along the waterfront.
The storage area is located next to the railroad tracks.
Get back in the car once again, and take Front Street underneath the Fremont Bridge, then turn into downtown…
… and search for the United States Custom House, on NW 8th Avenue. If you look past those iron gates and into the courtyard, you’ll see the front doors of the Portland Police Department — or at least, the ones that Nick and Hank are often seen passing through.
It appears that the Custom House is not currently used for anything — except as an occasionalGrimm filming location. In the show, the doors are painted with “Portland Police”, but during my visit, the words had been removed.
From downtown, you’ll want to head south for the drive to Monroe’s House.
This is another location that you’ll see almost every week in Grimm. The friendly Blutbad Monroe lives here, in a life of quiet, uncomplicated solitude, as he tries to control his Werewolf urges. At least, that’s the idea, until Nick discovers him.
The house would be a lot more recognizable if there was an old, yellow Volkswagen Beetle in the driveway.
Standing directly in front of the home, I could see that Monroe’s House is empty.
From the side, you can see that Monroe has a pretty good view out his back windows. The house is located at 418 SW Hamilton Street, on the edge of a hill, and just below the scenic Terwilliger Drive.
Important: Hamilton Street splits in front of Monroe’s House. If you go uphill, you’ll end up at Terwilliger Drive. If you drive directly in front of the house, you’re on a dead-end road. And it’s a serious dead-end, with no room to U-turn at the end. Your best bet might be to park a block away, and walk up to the house. Please respect the property of all the nearby residents.
As you could see by the map above, there are scores of filming locations all over Portlandia. You could spend days tracking them all down. I only had a couple of hours, one morning, before hitting the road for the rest of my vacation.
If I had more time, I would have made these stops:
Rosalee’s Exotic Spice & Tea Shop: 117 NW 2nd Avenue
In this Google Streetview Image, it looks much different in real life than on the show.
Police Parking Garage: 2238 NW 27th Avenue
I’m not sure if the garage is open to the public. If it’s not, you can get a good view inside by driving around the block.
Portland Police Department: 7214 N. Philadelphia Ave.
This building was used to shoot interior scenes of the police station. An exterior scene was also shot here, when Monroe was attacked. Aside from being a filming location, this is a beautiful, historic building. It once was used as the city hall for St. Johns, before it was incorporated into Portland.
Bull Run Hydro Powerhouse: SE Bull Run Road, near Sandy, Oregon
The historic Bull Run power station was used as the lodge for Beavers, or Eisbibers, in the first season of Grimm. Efforts are underway to preserve the historic old building.
Multnomah Falls: along the Columbia River Highway
This is one of Oregon’s prettiest places. Multnomah Falls served as a recognizable backdrop for a scene in the first season, episode 4. I’ve visited this place, and the rest of the scenic Columbia River Gorge, several times. You can read more about it here.
The Bottom Line
If you haven’t watched the show, give it a try. You might want to pick up a DVD of the first season, so it makes sense. And the next time you’re in Portland, I’m betting you’ll want to seek out some of these locations, too!
Check out this time-lapse, dash-cam video of the drive between Grimm filming locations.