I spent most of the day yesterday walking around downtown Portland OR, mostly in the brewery and Pearl districts. With all my travels, especially when I’m speaking at conferences, I hit a lot of downtown areas, and I have to say that thus far Portland is my favorite downtown area so far with Washington DC coming in at second.
What I’ve seen thus far…
There are parks everywhere, some of them plain old green space and others are spectacular fountain areas for the kids (and adults like me) to play in.
Bike paths number almost the same as car lanes. The city is structured in a way that bikes and walkers have way more right of way than cars. It’s really nice, cuts down on traffic, and makes exploring the city in a bipedal or two-wheeled manner that much more enjoyable. In Myrtle Beach SC where I live, it’s dangerous to ride a bike or walk. Not the smartest way for a city to grow and ease traffic, but it is reflective of Myrtle Beach’s mindset.
Coffee shops…they’re everywhere!
The city is so fit. There’s a wide variety of age and ethnic groups in town but overall they’re way more fit than other cities I’ve been in. Now I know there are fat people in Portland. According to demographics anywhere there have to be. I guess they’re at home watching the TV instead of out walking around town.
The mass transit system here is great and easy to use. It was super-cheap at $2.35 for me to catch a ride on the light rail from the airport to my hotel. Aside from the rail, there are also buses running everywhere.
The city is bursting with creativity, and it’s visible everywhere from the way people dress to the number of art and fashion centers located downtown. In many towns you have to look hard for any decent amount of creativity or support for the arts. Here, there’s so much of it that it’s visible everywhere.
The city is pretty clean too. For a big city, it’s pretty remarkable. In comparison, Washington DC was really, really nasty with trash everywhere you look. On some of the late nights I’ve been walking back to the hotel I’ve seen the city guys washing the sidewalks.
Overall, I would characterize Portland as a well-meshed dystopian utopia. There’s a lot of counterculture activity and lifestyle here, but it all seems to work well with the government and needed activities and functions from ‘the man’.