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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Portland, Portland, Portland

posted by on October 17 at 12:30 PM

I too am just back from vacation—and limping along, technology-wise, because my laptop decided to die Monday in a very loud and dramatic fashion (which I have to say I somewhat admire). There were screeches, static groans, and a white screen that I suppose meant heavenly rest for my hardworking hardrive—and of course hell for me.

In any case, I was on vacation in New York City, and everywhere I went people were talking about Portland.

I went to a gallery opening in NoLita and the gallery director was just back from several weeks in Portland, gushing about the scene there and how much he liked the city, how livable it was, how well planned. A friend of his, who works in fashion, was also just back from Portland, also gushing. I went out to dinner nearby and The Shins were playing in the restaurant. The friend I was eating with didn’t know who The Shins were, but when I mentioned they’re from Portland, he said, “Oh,” in a tone that suggested their cache had just been raised immensely. A few days later I was in a gay bar talking to a couple guys, and when the conversation turned to where I’m from (Seattle) one of the guys said, I guess apropos of Northwest cities: “You know, I love Portland.” His friend immediately concurred.

It felt like when I first went to New York, in the late 1990s, when talking about the Northwest inevitably meant talking about a certain hip new city. Back then it was my city, Seattle. Now it seems to be our southern neighbor.

RSS icon Comments


Fuck Portland.

Posted by Mr. Poe | October 17, 2007 12:33 PM

Portland rules, especially if you enjoy working as a barista, dish washer or as a waiter.

Posted by PDX Rocks! | October 17, 2007 12:34 PM

Portland is the reason babies die.

Posted by niggas im serious | October 17, 2007 12:35 PM

Ha ha ha, watch the place bloat up like a scenester-stuffed toad in the next four years!

Posted by --MC | October 17, 2007 12:36 PM

Bryan Miller told me everyone at NYU is talking about Portland too. Tell anyone making the move to make sure you have a job nailed down before landing, I ended up taking manual labor off Craigslist and at the end of an eight-month job search found one - back in Mexico. I know someone who ran a reputable Seattle record label who looked for work for THREE YEARS and ended up making $10 an hour in a managerial position. There is no base to the economy: Intel and Nike employ a fraction of the people at Microsoft, Boeing and their ancillaries. Portland is a great place and an easy place to get by on little money, but most of the folks I know there are just scraping by. They still have plenty of time for their art, though, because rent is still affordable (though that may be different by next year) and full time, good-paying jobs are very rare. It is entirely possible enough trustafarians will come to inflate the service industry to full employment, but Portland hasn't had a real economic base for twenty years.

Posted by Grant Cogswell | October 17, 2007 12:41 PM

Just wait until the scenesters find out that Portland is surrounded by Oregon.

Posted by fuck portland indeed | October 17, 2007 12:48 PM

I gotta second #5. Portland is a great city--to visit. It was the only urban area within reach when I was growing up in SW WA. But there's a reason I didn't head there after graduating.

No hustle.

Love it or hate it, SEA just has a more money-grubbing attitude and the economy that goes with it. Ya'll seem to envy PDX's progressive attitude and low-key vibe, but nailing down that job that supports your family is another matter. Money down there tends to be old money--and they don't throw it around investing in new, job creating businesses like they do up here.

Posted by Westside forever | October 17, 2007 12:49 PM

if NY loves Portland so much why don't they marry it! NY and Seattle's relationship is soooo over!

Posted by boxofbirds | October 17, 2007 12:50 PM

Maybe it's 'cause they have a good light rail system and we don't.

Posted by rock rabbit | October 17, 2007 12:52 PM

Vancouver BC is more fun.

But Portland's not bad.

Posted by Will in Seattle | October 17, 2007 12:52 PM

portland is alright. the denser neighborhoods are nice. however sub-par food, scenesters, and amateurism really grate on me. the suburbs are a horror and their schools are in shambles.

fun for a day or two, but i don't think i would live there let alone raise a family there.

oh and newsflash to new yorkers- the shins really suck nowadays. it's kind of sad actually.

portland has NOTHING on seattle. except for light rail and aggressive city planning.

vote yes on prop 1

Posted by sorry portland, but no. | October 17, 2007 12:55 PM

I predict Portland will have a more expensive (i.e. not necessarily better) standard of living than Seattle by 2010.

Posted by matthew fisher wilder | October 17, 2007 12:58 PM

maybe portland will do a better job growing up than seattle did.

Posted by infrequent | October 17, 2007 1:00 PM

Portland is a great small city, but like a lover with a small penis (no matter how skilled) there will always be something missing. Seattle and Vancouver are the only big cocks in the Northwest, and though we may have our relative shortcomings to our southern neighbor, I will take our superior endowments anyday...

People in New York also love Vermont. YAWN...

Posted by buddy | October 17, 2007 1:00 PM


Although I'm a Portland native, and still have a lot of relatives there (and like you grew up in the armpit os SW WA), I much prefer living in Seattle, for all the reasons you cited.

Sure, we still can't buy a beer with our lap-dance, have to pump our own gas, and it'll be 20 years before we have anything approaching decent mass-transit around here, but otherwise there's not a lot else to really recommend it as a residential destination.

As the Late Governor Tom McCall used to say back in the 1960's, "Oregon is a nice place to visit, but please don't move here".

That's still good advice, IMO.

Posted by COMTE | October 17, 2007 1:02 PM

People read shite like this

and cream all over themselves about what is or where is the next big city to claw away at and consume in the way posh, hip cultural consumers with disposable incomes do these sorts of things.

Fuck it all. People shit themselves over the idea that there might be some neighborhood-based mecca of truly cheap warehouse artist colonies within walking distance of some martini bar that is cheap enough so you do not have to scramble and is enough off the radar so as to not be colonized by spiritually empty assholes while simultaneously containing enough amenities so you are not truly stranded. Portland is just the current utopia du jour. Soon it will suck like Seattle.

Posted by Miss Stereo | October 17, 2007 1:04 PM

Still love Portland.

Posted by -B- | October 17, 2007 1:10 PM

Both cities have long been transplant cities for decades. Portland's haircut is just sexier to rich east-coasters than Seattle's haircut *today*, that's all. That doesn't mean that investors in CA and NY are going to stop pouncing on property and culture in both cities (which I don't think is a negative thing.)

Posted by matthew fisher wilder | October 17, 2007 1:13 PM

Gah, a lot of Portland haters here. Be nice northerners! I do live in the armpit of SW WA and I go to Portland almost every day for work and school. It is a nice place to live, even if you have to live in your parents' garage. :) If you haven't been here lately, they are building billions of over-priced condos in the Pearl district and someone is buying them...not sure who...probably all of those New Yorkers who think $300,000 for 500 sq. ft. is a good deal. So yah, Portland sucks...go away. We don't want anyone coming to live here, because you'll take our jobs! On the other hand, if you want to start a nice business that will employ people, well, welcome to one of the greatest cities on the planet! :)

Posted by Kristin Bell | October 17, 2007 1:16 PM

Portland acts all nice and stuff but it's really a total slut. I hear Portland has fucked Sacramento, Bakersfield, AND Barstow CA.


Posted by monkey | October 17, 2007 1:20 PM

hmmmmm, so Seattle has lots of jobs and not enough cheap housing and transportation and independent artsy stuff, and Portland doesn't have enough jobs but has a lot of the other stuff.... Can we work out some sort of trade?

Posted by boxofbirds | October 17, 2007 1:23 PM

And in five years it will be Boise, Boise, Boise. New Yorkers are silly like that.

Posted by CG | October 17, 2007 1:25 PM

I moved to Portland 6 years ago, and I truly love it. I have been all over and this is still my favorite place. Portland does lack something though- a Slog! I have to cyber sneak to my northern neighbor and live vicariously through you. Which sometimes treats me to amusing snippets on my city like this. Y'all sound like an older sibling who gets disgruntled when the baby sister gets all the attention. Jealous and defensive. Well, I do worry about the very true danger of Portland "blowing up like a scenester filled toad". And the rents HAVE risen obscenely in just the last 3 years already. I don't understand why that would make you happy, competitive older sister, but just thought I'd let you know. Relish our eventual oversaturation if it makes you feel good.

Posted by pdx | October 17, 2007 1:34 PM

@22 it won't. I think the whole 100% conservative thing will get in the way of that possibility.

Posted by Mr. Poe | October 17, 2007 1:50 PM
25's not cool to have a job at starbucks or boeing or amazon or anywhere else you have portland, with great in city transit and a cheaper cost of living plus a vibrant art scene...sounds good...and of course not all those pesky corporations with their jobs and must suffer!

Posted by uhmmmm | October 17, 2007 1:56 PM


Eh, give it time. Ever spent time in the North End? It's just your usual charming western city streetcar development from the teens and twenties, but isn't that just the thing that the NYTimes will name an undiscovered gem one of these days? And they'll oooh and aah over the mountains and trails, and everything else that seemed prosaic to the natives.

Oh, also, enough outsiders have been moving in to the city that they've started electing Democrats. Not statewide, however.

Posted by JW | October 17, 2007 1:58 PM

who gives a shite what new yackers think? i don't derive the worth of the amenities of my fair city from the opinions of folks thousands of miles away, some that have never been here.
seattle is totally saddled with incomprehensible traffic, ridiculous home prices and very little else to recommend it. the Showbox is a good mid-sized venue to see a rock show, that's about all i can think of currently.

PDX will never fall as far as Seattle, although the influx of fux i've seen in the last 10 years is taking a toll on livability here.

open post to all NYers thinking of relocating to PDX...forget Portland and get in early on the next trend:


Posted by curmudgeon | October 17, 2007 2:11 PM

Can someone let the Public Intern know that we have free ice cream for him until Nov. 12th? All he has to do is come and visit the Women's Resource Center at PSU IN PORTLAND and he can have all the free ice cream he can eat! If anyone else is in Portland and wants free ice cream, just come visit us. :)

Posted by Kristin Bell | October 17, 2007 2:40 PM

Fuck all of you.

Posted by Me | October 17, 2007 2:50 PM

@25, I'm bettin' an offer for $75 grand a year would make you go to the dark side in a New York minute.

Posted by DaiBando | October 17, 2007 3:21 PM

@23 - You're missing a Slog? Isn't this the Portland equivalent?

Posted by Callie | October 17, 2007 3:31 PM

@30 i was kidding...portland does seem like a cool town...i'm just not sure they have many diverse and well paying job oppurtunites...seems like a major bummer to me but that is something many artist types are willing to over look...personally, no way...i like to get paid now...and hopefully get to be creative along the way...we'll see...

Posted by uhmmm | October 17, 2007 3:43 PM

Ah...chasing the next hip and cool place to live. What a great passtime for the well off.

Posted by whatever. | October 17, 2007 4:00 PM

i was in portland last weekend & everyone told me how much they love seattle.

portland has closer & better hot springs & ocean beaches. but we've got way more homeless.

the grass is always greener.

Posted by maxsolomon | October 17, 2007 4:06 PM

Okay, great. Move there.

And all the rest of you too, who gush about how great it is and how much this city sucks. GTFO and maybe you'll help solve some problems, not just for yourselves but for the rest of us as well.

Posted by Gomez | October 17, 2007 4:27 PM

@31- Yes, I do love the Mercury Blog and check it daily, but the Slog is a bigger machine and more interesting- far more posts, more responses, etc. Occasionally something on the Mercury Blog will get Portlanders fired up, but people down here don't seem quite as into it overall.

Posted by pdx | October 17, 2007 4:39 PM

Scenester/arty types in New York *do* love Portland. They once really loved Austin and Denver too. I don't know why. But they will never really understand how dreadfully boring all these places are.

Posted by Johnny | October 17, 2007 5:09 PM

Portland is a just a wack Seattle.

Posted by Beachhead | October 17, 2007 6:46 PM

I was sitting in a doctor's office yesterday and picked up a magazine with a feature about the best places to move/live/retire. Portland was #1. There was a photo of a retired couple enjoying spending their pile of cash, strolling around "The Pearl District" and Portland looked glossy and shiny. What a long way from the 80's and early 90's. Yuck. My memories of Portland are like Drugstore Cowboy...and that place just isn't there anymore.

Posted by Sally Struther Lawnchair | October 17, 2007 6:59 PM

I hear Sedro-Woolley is the next Prague.

Posted by trust fund hipster type | October 17, 2007 7:01 PM

@40---No way man, Sequim is where it's at.

Posted by Sally Struther Lawnchair | October 17, 2007 7:04 PM

"I hear Sedro-Woolley is the next Prague"

me too... we must know the same peeps, and a little bird told me that High Point is the next Sedro-Woolley, and Orujo is the next Ketel One. shhh, keep it to yourself.

Posted by hipsterlite | October 17, 2007 7:11 PM

4/5 people in PDX are white...that's all i'm saying.

Posted by Tightie Whities | October 17, 2007 10:18 PM

@43: haha...too true good point AND when I go to Seattle, despite being completely insane, I get asked out on dates! that never happens down here!!! or maybe people only ask me out when I am insane? oh that can't be good. what does that mean???

Posted by Kristin Bell | October 18, 2007 5:36 AM

That's right, keep bad-mouthing Portland. We don't want you here.

Posted by Portland | October 18, 2007 11:07 AM

Portland is a tiny, tedious, nothing of a city. No industry, no urban buzz, no professional opportunities. How odd that New York, the heart of America, the most culturally essential city in the US, would find anything of interest in such a dump. What were they high on that could possibly make them fall in love with that bunch of noodle-dancing, compost-scented, shitty-folk-music-loving, windy-political-rambling, nap-taking hippies? Little cocks indeed. Seattle is the only city in the NW that can deliver.

Posted by true north | October 24, 2007 10:14 PM

Amazon. Microsoft. Starbucks. Grunge. Dan Savage. Jimmi Hendricks.
Portland? Gardenbugers, Stash Tea and a sea of skanky hippies and agro bikers. Portland is Seattle's left armpit.

Posted by latte | October 24, 2007 10:18 PM

Seattle, you flatter yourself a little too much. At least Portland knows it's an overgrown large town at best. You're big city ambitions are a joke-compared to New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles,'re small potatoes..Seattles barely bigger than Portland. At least the neighborhoods in Portland have-for the time being some degree of charm-not like the fucking awful attempts at modern architecture that have ruined 'hoods like Fremont.

Posted by Derek | October 25, 2007 6:45 PM

When this SoCal boy considered buying a second home in the Northwest I thought about both Seattle and Portland. I chose Portland for a number of reasons but mainly because the City has done a fine job of growth management and livability. With the urban growth boundry, an excellent light rail system including direct access from PDX, the Portland Streetcar, Fairless Square (free transport downtown), and numerous award winning restaurants, the choice was easy. Add to that the sophistication of the Pearl, the upscale NW 23rd Avenue area, the funkyness of Belmont and Hawthorne, and a liberal, open minded "keep Portland wierd" attitude and you have something very attractive. While Seattle may have a larger population base and more major league sports teams, size does not necessarily make life better. With that size and lack of planning, Seattle has a nightmarish traffic problem, a huge homeless population, and lousier weather. (Yes, it is colder, WETTER and gloomier there).

I think both cities have their attributes and should be enjoyed by each other's residents.

Posted by SoCal Boy in Portland | October 28, 2007 7:32 PM

I like to visit Seattle, but Portland is simply more liveable. We have better transit, it's extremely walkable, and a very unique/diverse culture. Seattle is fun because it feels more like a big city, but it's downtown is too much like a mall (c'mon a Bed Bath & Beyond???--that would never happen in downtown Portland). I think it is due to Seattle's far-flung suburbs that it has become what it is. Portland has required denser development so it has managed to become a bigger city while still maintaining the small town feel.

Posted by PDXrocks | October 30, 2007 4:45 PM

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