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INVITATION FROM PORTLAND: WHAT’S MY NAME?

Portland City Model Inside Benson Hotel On Broadway.

Portland City Model Inside Benson Hotel On Broadway. With A Super Moon.

An old Russian saying explains it this way: The much loved are called by many names.

With that in mind, Portland must be much loved by the number of names it has.

Stump Town.

Soccer City, USA.

River City.

Rip City.

Rose City.

Beervana.

Bridge City.

And they all fit.

Just like weather that changes by the quarter hour, Portland can be sunny one moment, wet the next, and no one complains.

Okay, new people complain, but not for long. They either get used to it, or leave.

No one calls Portland Boomer City, so I’ll start the trend here.

Portland is Baby Boomer City, and here’s why:

If you’re moving from one city to another, and Portland is the next move, you’ll love it.

It’s not as old and beat looking at a Rust Belt city, or as new and shiny as a Sun Belt city, which aren’t so new and shiny once you look around.

Portland has enough horizontal glass and steel faced towers near the westside river front to make any Sun Belt refugee happy.

Out on Columbia Ave. there’s enough industrial installations to make a former Rust Belt resident homesick.

After growing up on the Oregon coast in North Bend, and living in Philadelphia and Brooklyn, NY, Portland was just the right size.

It didn’t carry the baggage of The City of Brotherly Love, which is far from the truth. Philadelphia is a hardcore city. When I lived there the mayor was former police chief Frank Rizzo.

My time in the city is the same time as Rocky Balboa. Watching the first Rocky feels like a documentary with his run through the Italian Market and up the steps of the Museum of Art.

Brooklyn was another story. I moved there more than enough baggages, real and emotional. You get that with a break-up move. I buried myself in Brooklyn where no one could find me. But someone did. Sometimes life works that way.

A Portland woman I met in college called one day. We started writing letters. She came out for a visit. Once back home she said she didn’t want to be pen pals. She wanted a real pal.

Because of an airline strike, I showed up in Portland after a three day bus ride from NYC’s Port Authority to the Trailways stop in Old Town.

By this time I considered myself toughened up by my east coast urban adventures, but Portland took it all out of me. Who can be a hardened cynic in Oregon’s biggest city, especially when it showed the best of Philadelphia and Brooklyn without trying.

Philly had Fairmount Park, one of the biggest urban green spaces in America. Portland has Forest Park, the best urban woods in America.

Score for Portland.

Brooklyn had Prospect Park, the little brother to Manhattan’s Central Park. Portland contacted the people responsible for the parks and brought them to town for a parks review here. Their presence helped inform the city of its park potential, which we see today.

Another score for Portland.

Baby Boomer Portland in the 1980’s was a treat. A studio apartment on NW Lovejoy went for $155/month. I signed the lease in a biker bar on NW 21st. The neighborhood was still cheap enough for transients, but interesting enough to attract developers.

Who remembers the first Lovejoy Cafe? Once that caught on older boomers from the West Hills started showing up in their Mercedes’ and hogging all the parking spots.

After that things changed fast.

Once the rent went up, the neighbors changed. No more sleepy characters who said they were the inspiration for the movie Drug Store Cowboy. Instead it was nurses and teachers and professionals, career people building a life, not dope fiends on the nod.

Then the stores moved from 21st to Hawthorne, the new, and still, hot spot.

When the tide turns in a neighborhood you like, you have two choices. You stay, or you move.

The other choice is getting married, which I did. Married the woman I met in NW and moved to the inner-east side. From there it was kids and the suburbs, with Portland calling time and again.

What do you do when Portland calls? Answer and make a date, silly.

Then you figure out your own name for the city.

 

 

About David Gillaspie
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