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Tuesday, August 2, 2005

"I feel more likely to get pickpocketed here than in Times Square"

Here's how the City of Portland looks these days to a New Yorker visiting.

Some of it ain't pretty.

Comments (46)

You left out this coment Jack, about why she was in Portland. "Friends and family there -- including my brother and his wife, who just moved there two weeks ago because the cost of living in Portland is now cheaper than Bakersfield, Calif."

I thought Portland was one of the most overpriced cities in America.

She makes some valid complaints. But she complains because bikers think they own the place, and its tough for her to jog. Really??? Has she ever been to NYC?

If I read her blog correctly, Portland is a tougher place to live then Brooklyn???? Don't tell the Beastie Boys.

A very observant girl. She made good observations on the bicycle bozos especially.

It's a good thing she didn't bring any cold medicine with her. Without a prescription, that will soon be illegal. I'd like to see a visitor's take on THAT little gem when it becomes law.

I mean, the only observations ANYONE has to make about Portland is, "Nice beer, weird town." Sigh.

She was a whiner.

I've had friends visit from all over, attend conferences, come for business.

Comments, sure, nice beer and wierd folks (but in a good way).

But also "This is the most beautiful city I've ever seen" (from a world traveller who I was driving into town on a crisp fall night, as we approached the city on I84-> Morrison bridge)

And "If only there were a research university, I'd live here", and "Best Sushi outside of San francisco" and "There is so much to do."

PDX has its troubles but it *is* a good place to visit.

Hi and thanks for the link. I should probably make clear that I really like Portland. ... It was just those bikers and nutty street kids that surprised me.

You get used to the bikers. The street kids, though -- that's a disgrace.

Concerning Portlanders; I've noticed that the more of a granola you become, the more rude and uptight you act.

My father came for a short visit last summer and roamed downtown, Powell's, etc... while I was at work. When I met up with him later and asked what he thought of the town, fully expecting him to say something positive, he replied "what's with all the panhandlers?"

Those "street kids" and "panhandlers" are actually *** grads in active practice in Portland. Like Jack says, it's an expensive town.


Your comment is so true! People in Portland seem to be ruder than just about any other people I've come across, and I've traveled the world. People in Portland think that they are really nice, that's the funny thing...Give me a New Yorker any day!

I was driving down burnside and at the octupus intersection near the rock gym and michaels sandwiches their were two younger gutter punks and an older hobo having a passive aggressive turf war over who could spange the people at the intersection. Finally a cop showed up, who I think talked to them about not walking down the skinny curbs. If the city could blush we really would have been the city of roses.
But not as friendly as New York? Anybody been mugged lately?

Well Brekin, someone just got his butt kicked by a bunch of thugs on the MAX train:


Up in the 'Couv, if you try to get the teenagers to break up the hang and go home, you may get your eye poked out. Of course, that's the 'burbs, but it's probably rougher than Roselle Park, N.J. or some similar NYC 'burb.

Jack - Forget about the 'burbs, if you try to have lunch on NW 23rd you might get stabbed in the back.

But at least we're getting an aerial tram [rim shot].

My wife used to take walks downtown on her lunch hour up until last autumn. Too often accosted by aggressive street trolls asking for money then cursing her out when she tried to walk around them. A year or two ago cops came to one of her employee meetings and, in response to complaints about the situation, stated that our fair city is a very attractive (as in lots of free services) place for these types and so they come from all over to participate in the PDX lifestyle. At the time (this was under Vera's admin) there wasn't much urgency by the city's leadership to deal with the problem.

Along with a lot of co-workers my wife now walks the stairs in her office building rather than going out on the streets for exercise.

OK - as a true East Coaster, I must say - she is DEAD ON with her portrait of the kooky Oregon bikers and weird teenage meth heads who beg for money on the cleanest of the clean streets in P-town USA. I lived in Portland for 3 years, and must say - bikers - SHARE THE ROAD or learn how to cycle like a New Yorker ! GEEZ !
The East Coast will ALWAYS rule over the West Coast...sorry granola crunchies! We're 3 hours ahead!!!!

don't make eye contact and the panhandlers won't bother you - they never say a word to me. maybe I look like I won't give em any money or something.

The trick is to dress like a bum yourself and then the real bums (who knows) will leave you alone. I can't tell one from another these days. Every class of bum has their own dress code.

As to the bikers -- do not take young kids down there. They can see birds, or nothing at all, and jolt out. One visit and ten near-collisions later and I resolved to bring something suitable to cram into spokes. The threat level of that act would be no more premeditated than the act of an adult that speeds near a child.

Kids don't get used to anything until they get older.

Is a biker scowl a fighting word? We could use some speed bumps so that a walker has a fair chance to finish the fight in this new version of Roller Derby. Parhaps the Rose City Rollers could patrol the sidewalks.

Di I see a biz opp in selling walking sticks?

Portland could pass an ordinance requiring that all children under 12 must wear a helmet before entering the derby. They don't vote anyway and . . .

wow, i wish i knew if all of you lived in portland. gosh, it sounds like portland just sucks balls in your eyes. so why not leave? if you guys hate the bikers and panhandlers sooooooooooo much, move away.

or, i have a better idea - do something about it. when was the last time you talked to a co-worker or friend about going to a city council meeting or neighborhood meeting and voicing your opinion? why not use the people sponsored election money to run for office and then change things the way you want.

i love portland and always will and i live in NoPo where i have had hookers come to my door to get business. did i leave? no. did I whine? no.

portland has it's challenges, but the grass isn't always greener elsewhere.

why not use the people sponsored election money to run for office and then change things the way you want.....i have had hookers come to my door to get business

Maybe with their door-to-door outreach potential some of these streetwalkers could qualify for public campaign funding. Just need a $5 "donation" from a thousand Portland households.

Anyone want to handicap Erik Sten vs. Desiree Mattressback for the '06 general election?

Hmmm...she had nothing good to say about the core, are you sure she doesn't work for the Portland Tribune?

i'm an east coast philadelphian and thinking about moving to portland in a couple of months...still haven't even visited yet, but plan on it later this month.

all of these posts are making me think like san fran might be the way to go. where's the love for your own city? I LOVE THE SHIT outta Philly, but just feel the need to cheat on her for a year or two before moving back and marrying her for life! ha.. sorry for the corny metaphor, but damn, show some pride for your city.

Brett, don't take it so personally bro.

people are, by and large, a bunch of friggin winers - whether it's about work, spouse, kids, town, etc. especially people who are used to living in the suburbs and never having to interact with any one who acts or looks any different from them.

I've worked downtown (and ridden trimet) for 10 years and have dealt with the street kids and panhandlers on a daily basis. My husband got laid off in April of this year, and since that time, whenever I'm asked for money, I tell them the truth...that my husband got laid off. At that point, they usually offer their apologies and insult Bush in some way. Even after my husband returns to work in September, I think I'll still use that same excuse!!

*don't make eye contact and the panhandlers won't bother you - they never say a word to me.*

Or, you can look them in the eye and tell them the truth - that your change isn't spare. Legitimate response, and you'll be respected for it. Don't be afraid of them. The ones you need to watch out for are the folks who aren't sitting still.

And of course, the folks sitting in offices in the buildings around you.

After 3 years in portland, I'm happy to live in a true metropolitan area again. Portland is too weird and too small- I really became sick of running into people from my small group of acquaintances every time I left the house.

If you want to get away from casual panhandlers, move to someplace with a rotten climate.
I lived in Minneapolis for four years. During the summer there were always people waiting at the side of busy intersections asking for money. But during the winter, nobody ever bothered you. Most of the panhandlers fled to warmer climates because the cold would kill them. I never saw the others because I stayed inside. Who wants to go outside when its twenty degrees below zero?

Panhandlers are a small price to pay to live in a place like Portland. It's the downside of a mild climate and a fantastic place to live.

Or maybe I'm young and niave and not intent on Portland being the place it was twenty years ago.

I don't think the point of the post was "ways for locals to deal with panhandlers" (suck it up, I guess, from the posts I read). I think the point was the image that visitors have of Portland when they go downtown.

"... I lived in Portland for 3 years, and must say - bikers - SHARE THE ROAD or learn how to cycle like a New Yorker ! GEEZ !
The East Coast will ALWAYS rule over the West Coast...sorry granola crunchies! We're 3 hours ahead!!!!"

HA! Perfect--- Only an East Coaster would need to yell at you the entire time they're talking. I mean, look at the exclamation points.

I, too, have done a fair amount of traveling and I thank God for this town everytime I return. I've worked and played downtown for many, many years (especially late night when I dj at clubs) and I just dont see the problems hyped up by (what I consider)overly sensitive people--mostly living in the suburbs where they dont have to actually interact with anyone. Dont know if you've noticed, but most of the crime I see on the local network "news" shows is either in Salem, Vancouver or the PDX burbs. I feel a hell of alot safer downtown than I do in Gresham on a Saturday night.

I think most of the complaints come from the well-healed who are squeemish about having to deal societies problems in their face when they venture outside of their comfort zone ("Why do I have to see poor people in my shiny world? Its so scary!") Poverty is all over and sweeping it under a rug or dismissing its denizens as crazy doesnt address the problems. As long as the rich get disproportiantely richer in this country there will be an increase in the amount of poor people. (Wealth/resources arent of an infinite nature, so when some people get more, other people get less--not a hard concept to understand.)

This city is amazingly clean, still somewhat affordable to live in its confines(so is SF if you want to live in a closet and call it a studio), has more friendly people than a**holes (they, like poverty, are everywhere) and a progressive outlook that has created a welcoming community for young artists/creative types moving here in droves (despite city officials not providing any assistance).

There is a reason the unemployment #s are still high despite a rebounding economy-- people keep moving here because this place is better and more relaxed than where they came from. Especially NY. Nice place to visit, but who wants to live there unless your uber rich? If your biggest complaint is crazy bike riders, you live in a pretty damn good place.
Oh, and you'll be seeing the teenage meth heads in your neighborhood soon enough.

Well, I've been hitting the PDX blogs for a few weeks now, preparing to move. I've got to addmit...it sounds perfect. I'll be riding my bike and using the TriMet. Also, I've gotten involved with some homelessness awareness groups active in PDX and hope to volunteer to help out the problem. I don't expect to see the burbs much and will be looking forward to the progressive taxes and wonderful climate, not to mention some fucking snowboarding. If you don't like it there, come down to OKC. It is a veritable asscrack and it sounds like people take a lot for granted up there.

you can say that again. you have to really work to find things to complain about around these parts (other than the spring weather - but that is another story)

Gene/Rodney - The unspoken complaint from us isn't that it IS bad, per se. The problem is that things are only getting worse, with no improvement in sight. Explaining away the decline as "that's the way it is" is myopic enough to elect the retards we have in City Hall. And Portland will indeed be a crappy place to live in 5 years.

As for Rodney not finding things to complain about, getting stabbed in the back on NW 23rd seems like a problem. Ditto for the $1,000 I'm out for car damage because the city is building an aerial tram (rim shot) instead of hiring enough cops to catch the single meth kid doing the break-ins. There is also the 1.25% tax for a public school district that lost 20% of it's students in 7 years.

I'm outta here in October, so you folks keep deluding yourself that there's nothing wrong, I'll be back to buy your houses for under half-price in a few years.

Exactly Scott. Have you gone downtown on a Friday or Saturday night lately? No wonder there's been shootings; the place is a freekin' powder-keg.

The absence of police is really going to bite Portland hard if they don't get thier priorities straight.

It's rediculous to assume I don't think anything's wrong as I mentioned that I intend to volunteer. Guess you didn't catch that. The issue is that it's better than wher I am right now and that even if it's worse there in 5 years, it's still better than here. You have no idea what the meth problem is like here...it's insane, so I probably won't notice that much. The panhandlers I got used to living in 3rd world countries, and the car burglaries will never be my problem. One man's hell-hole is another man's utopia.

Gene - Where do you live now that has a worse meth problem?

And the real question is, do you have a job in Portland yet? I'm not being snarky, I really am curious about folks moving here and their prospects of getting work. I moved back here a year ago and it took longer that I planned - and I grew up here.

I live in Oklahoma City. There are hundreds of meth labs busts a year here and we have some similar laws to Oregon that attempt to combat them. It's actually probably worse, though, because the immigrant population is so willing to work with toxic chemicals, I guess. As for a job, no I do not yet have one as it is difficult to do such a thing at long distances. Yes, I'm probably going to have a trouble finding one, no I do not care. My priorities have never been financial over cultural or environmental, but that's just me. You might say I'm moving because of a personal conviction to live the lifestyle I feel just, not the lifestyle I feel comfortable. I live in one of the most affordable cities in the country and no, I don't care. I have principles.

Welcome, Gene. One more vote for Erik Sten! :)

The above postings confirm that Porkland has gone to seed.

The next step is to make methane.

What about the clown who was planning to move here without ever having seen the city? Sounds like Philly is producing geniouses at an unprecedented rate.

Given that someone else got shot downtown this weekend, I think the "sight-unseen" crowd may soon be the only ones moving here.

"Sounds like Philly is producing geniouses at an unprecedented rate."

"Genious" is genial!

ambrose, if you properly read my post, you would see that i do plan on visiting first, in fact i am visiting and also participating in a couple of informational interviews in about two weeks. i also plan on visiting a couple of other west coast cities in the same tour, and do not plan on moving for a couple of months. please refrain from jumping down others throats from now on before i put something quite large down yours.

This is a really weird thread. I've been in Portland for about five years now (after living in Seattle, the Bay, DC, and Denver), and I enjoy it. It's clean, it's pretty, people are nice to you if you're nice to them, it's a small city with a small town feel, there are far fewer shootings or other random violence than in other (big) cities, I've never felt overrun by panhandlers, I've never felt unsafe downtown at night, and I do hate bikers (but that's a personal issue). Portland's biggest problem is that its homogenous and provincial, but that's just a consequence of being small and in Oregon - I think the town will grow up nicely and in the meantime it's a pleasant place to live.

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