Sunday, July 17, 2011

Portland, Oregon

As seen on the TV series: Portlandia
I am falling in love with Portland. When visiting family there recently, I was so intrigued by the place, I felt wildly compelled to rate the entire city as "sincere," but then asked myself, is that possible? Well, let's examine the evidence. First of all, it's beautiful: Mt. Hood shines down upon the city from the East, pine forests abound, and lush, green streets wind along the hillsides. Second, a very vibrant scene dominates its downtown districts. From what I understand, and a very limited understanding it is, Portland is divided into four sections, SW, SE, NW and NE, with the Willamette River dividing it by East and West. The portions of the city I visited, the very hip downtown on the SW side of the river, with great little restaurants and vintage shops surrounded by neighborhoods of cozy, old houses, particularly in the Hawthorne District, made me just want to pack up and move there. (The financial center is comprised of high-rises and quite notable architecture but perhaps a somewhat colder street life.)
Mt. Hood over Portland

One day during our visit, we spent several hours downtown at the Saturday Market, and what a scene that was! I mean, the rows and rows of local vendors and their crafts was all very nice, but it was the peripheral hangers-on that really gave it character. Hippies, young and old, swarmed the area, strumming guitars, crazily gyrating to real or imagined music, urging petitions to legalize pot, and, at times, overwhelming the delicious smells of the food vendors with their obvious aversion to deodorant. Could I live with all that crunchiness? Suffice it to say there are a lot of very "natural" people in Portland; it is, after all, environmentally the greenest city in the U.S. Which brings me to my third point: Portlanders are friendly - almost to a fault.
SE Portland's Saturday Market: the largest continually operating
outdoor arts and crafts market in the U.S.

Finally, Portland is the land of my grandparents, aunt, uncle, brother's family, and many cousins. It's a land of roses, lilacs, cedar, myrtlewood and rain. Certainly no city of its size can be considered entirely sincere, but I cannot help but deem my new love:
Pretty (darn) sincere

(If any Portlanders are reading this, and would like to add to or correct any of my information, please comment!)


  1. I second the motion. May I also point out that, with typical Portland sincerity, there is a _fifth_ "quarter" to the city: in addition to the SW, SE, NW, and NE, there is a North (N) Portland. Puzzling to some, but its denizens seem to understand. (If you would like to try, take a look at a map of the city. Granted that the stately Willamette river is the east-west dividing line, you will see that the area of the city is top-heavy. The portion up there that refuses to be symmetrical - what river flows _truly_ North-South? - is where the North streets are.)