In a gathering of strangers you can ask one question they all know:
“Where is main street where you come from?”
Every town, from ranch and farm hubs like of Sprague River to bustling cities like Pendleton, has a main street.
In places like Tigard it’s even called Main Street.
Seniors know their Main Street better than anyone. Why? Maybe it was the only road into, and out, of their town.
Boomers are more cosmopolitan, or like to think they are, and Main Street is more about the drive to their gated community than a shared road.
But Main Street is still where you find what a city is all about.
Take this test: drive to a town near you, park your car in the city center, and walk a few blocks. Note the environment.
Does it make you want to run back to your car and speed away?
Or does it welcome you to stay longer?
This may not be a good test for Oregon since the state is full of unique towns with alluring qualities, so adjust your sights accordingly.
If you’re from a smaller town, drive to a Portland main street.
Instead of parking on Broadway and going into Nordstrom’s before crossing the street to Starbucks and a stroll around Pioneer Square, go a little further.
The city is full of neighborhoods from NW 23rd to Sellwood, but get off the path beaten to those destinations.
Start in the southwest with Hillsdale.
Be careful with the directions. If you find yourself on a four lane freeway near an airport and a football stadium, you’re closer to Hillsboro than Hillsdale. Once you settle into the small town surprise just over the hill from the big city, you’re in the right place.
Hillsdale works to help neighbors avoid the big box stores. In one short stretch of road you’ll find what you need for a complete life.
After Hillsdale, set your compass for NE Alberta. You’ll find things you didn’t know were missing, like an invitation to relax and cruise the sidewalks. Parts of Alberta feel like blueprints for neighborhood participation. Don’t be fooled by the party-vibe. Alberta businesses put their welcome mats out because it’s part of a plan.
Finish your Portland day with a short jog to St. Johns.
If it seems different it’s because it once strived to be the city Portland became. Instead, it became the “Gateway To Nature” on the peninsula, a good trade off.
Cities change from warm hometowns to major economic players competing on the Pacific Rim. Boomers have seen the evolution up close. Cities like Portland still have a downtown feel, but the magic moved to smaller sections.
At today’s hyper-linked, flash-player pace, it is important to know your roots. Or plant new ones.
Do you know where to find them?