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
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
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
Patty examines a red rose
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
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
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.
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