World famous Welcome to Portland & Old Town sign.

 

I first became aware of Portland back in college when I studied the work of urban sociologist Neil Goldschmidt who cautioned against urban and suburban sprawl – low density made mass transportation impossible to efficiently stitch a region together.  Goldschmidt later became Mayor 1973 – 79, Secretary of Transportation 1979 under President Jimmy Carter, and Governor 1986 – 1991.  As Mayor, Goldschmidt persuaded his fellow citizens and then the legislature to freeze Portland’s boundaries. 

 

The aim was to force densification – make land more valuable – drive developers to build more units on a property – build higher buildings, all to make mass transit work.  And it does work – one can view along the I-84 transportation corridor trams headed to the airport about every three minutes.  Buses and trams connect all parts of the city – people ride bikes every where – the City of Roses is true pedestrian friendly city and an accumulation of interesting villages to peruse.

 

 

Portland’s most famous district is The Pearl - originally platted as Couch’s Addition in 1869 - Union Station was opened in 1896 – today the district is a mix of residential lofts, high rises, townhomes, shops, brew pubs, coffee houses, restaurants of all types - a funky chic attitude permeates the area. 

 

I can remember arriving in Portland during my 1972 visit at five PM and expecting to be trapped in a bad traffic jam.  Amazingly, I did not even experience a rush hour - or much else and left the next day.  Portland today is a magnet for college grads who want a vital urban area to live, work, and play in.  Many wish to avoid car ownership and move around almost exclusively on bikes.  This manageable growth is fostering a rich urban lifestyle that is recognized internationally. 

 

View of downtown Portland from a vantage point in green, hilly, Northwest Portland. 

 

Portland is a hip city filled with all types of young people, many sporting tattoos of every shape, size, color or story.  The Jupiter Hotel with its minimalist style is a very cool place to stay because of its location and the Doug Fir Grille & Bar that has a downstairs nightclub. 

 

                              

 

Art and flowers, especially roses, are ubiquitous in Portland and nearly everywhere else in Oregon.  Murals adorn walls in urban neighborhoods or small railroad depot towns.  Both governments and commercial real estate developers support the placement of statues and other art forms everywhere. 

 

Community living around square voluntarily tend this rose garden.

 

Portland’s dining style ranges from fast casual to brew pubs to fine restaurants – most claim to serve healthier food because of a farm to table ethos.  Lardos, a fast casual beer and sandwich joint, promises to put the fat back in food.  Deliciously greasy burgers and fries are wolfed down in an atmosphere that encourages the diner not to worry about cholesterol or calories.  Patty and I shared a Greek Salad.

 

 

 

Portland has three major gardens: International Rose Test Garden, Japanese Garden, Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden.

 

Patty examines a red rose bush.

 

We left Portland Friday morning, May 22, and headed up Route 30 North to St. Helen’s.  Our route followed the Willamette River which emptied into the Columbia River at St. Helen’s and from there we followed the Columbia River to Astoria, our destination.

 

Picture of Willamette River with Cascade Mountains shrouded by misty clouds.

 

Astoria is a city of 10,000 located on the mouth of the Columbia River where it empties into the Pacific Ocean.  The city is attached to Vancouver, Washington, by means of a very busy bridge that spans the mouth.  My interest in Astoria is two fold; first, my son Sasha almost took a job there as editor of the local newspapers; Lewis & Clark and company camped there for six months until a break in the wet weather permitted them to finally return to Washington, D.C.

 

Heart of downtown Astoria anchored by this main office building. 

 

Astoria appeared to be a return in time to an age when main streets of small cities everywhere flourished and were the centers of commerce and culture.  Then Wal-Mart appeared on the edges of so many cities and virtually killed their central business districts.  Astoria has thwarted that trend and seems the better for it.

 

 

The Liberty Theater is another important anchor of downtown Astoria. 

 

Astoria appeared to be a gentle and creative place.  One oddity that I found charming - pure juxtaposition – was the location of the local film museum over the county jail.

Presumably, dangerous criminals were not housed in the jail.

 

 

Astoria is a small city full of big surprises – T. Paul’s Urban Café, jammed at lunchtime, serves up delicious food and some interesting art. 

 

The Dungeness crab bisque soup is very good. 

 

We spent the night at the Seaside Oceanfront Inn, a b and b that opened to the promenade and the beach.  Seaside, developed by a Scandinavian immigrant who became a business magnate, is located ten miles south of Astoria. 

 

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This view of Seaside features the Tim Thumb structure.  Our inn was located to the right.

 

While dining at Finn’s Fishhouse, our waitress wore a t-shirt with the word SISU in bold letters.  Patty and I inquired as to the meaning and she proudly explained the following philosophy.

 

 

Seaside, like the rest of the Oregon, is a very surprising place.