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Exploring the quirky eccentricities of the City of Roses, this intimate pocket companion to Portland examines numerous lesser-known gems treasured by locals of this unique West coast metropolis. An offbeat alternative to most basic travel guides, this accessible volume exposes local histories and legends while revealing the best eateries, choicest hotels, and hottest nightspots. From watching the weather machine in Pioneer Courthouse Square or choosing a blossom at the International Rose ...
Exploring the quirky eccentricities of the City of Roses, this intimate pocket companion to Portland examines numerous lesser-known gems treasured by locals of this unique West coast metropolis. An offbeat alternative to most basic travel guides, this accessible volume exposes local histories and legends while revealing the best eateries, choicest hotels, and hottest nightspots. From watching the weather machine in Pioneer Courthouse Square or choosing a blossom at the International Rose Test Garden to riding the only three-door elevator west of the Mississippi or embarking on a microbrewery pub crawl, this handy travel tome shows that experiencing the unknown can be truly unforgettable.
Portland is not what you expect. It is not a smaller version of Seattle. Oh, there are some similarities — both have water, both have mountains. One has moved constantly forward with new architecture, freeways, and high–tech industries. That’s Seattle. Portland, on the other hand, has kept most of its heritage architecture, built one of the finest public transport systems anywhere, and lured its own share of industry. Like all good siblings, the two have similarities and differences. It’s the differences that make Portland so special.
Built more on a European model, Portland is a walker’s nirvana. The city’s streets, which feature statues, fountains, and half–size city blocks, were part of the reason why Portland was selected by Walking magazine as one of America’s best walking cities. Some historians claim that these people–friendly city blocks were the invention of greedy real estate developers who wanted to create more corner lots, which fetched higher prices. Others, however, believed that the shorter blocks were created to allow more natural light to fall down to street level.
Whatever the reason, when you are confronted with what appears to be a 20–block walk, relax, breathe deeply, and know that your next destination is closer than you think.
Portland has kept its residents in mind as it has evolved. During its modern era, from the close of World War II, the city has added such utopian refinements as an extensive transit system and an urban plan that strictly limits the height of buildings and the space between them.
Bridges also give Portland a distinct profile, covering the city like a latticework over the Willamette River. This riverfront city is a multi–faceted place. Like the confluence of the Willamette and the Columbia Rivers, commerce, history, classic architecture, and the arts come together smoothly to create a flourishing metropolis.
Portland is much more than its physical attributes. The city has a progressive beat, even if the drummer keeps the cadence slow and steady. This is a city that knows how to make the best of its sunny days, from the numerous sidewalk cafés and outdoor festivals to the passion for gardening.
And gardening truly is a passion in the Northwest. “Grow it” and “show it” seem to be the bywords, not just for the ever–present roses, but also for swarms of rhododendrons, squadrons of perennials, and legions of trees.
That outdoor passion, along with having the head office of Nike in the backyard, has certainly added to the city’s zeal for sports. Snowboarding and skiing are doable almost all year long on Mount Hood; the rivers offer boating, water skiing, and fishing opportunities; and the hiking trails are almost too numerous to mention.
Need some more reasons why Portland is such a great place? Let’s see. No sales tax, old–fashioned gas stations, the only extinct volcano within city limits in the United States, clean air, an excellent transit system. I could go on and on, but then there wouldn’t be any point in writing the rest of this book.
When trying to find an address, it’s wise to think of the city in terms of quadrants: northwest, north/northeast, southeast, and southwest. Numbered avenues are parallel and run north–south, with street addresses starting from Burnside Street, which divides north and south. Named streets are also parallel and run east–west, with the Willamette (which divides east and west) at zero. But, to be honest with you, while the grid system and coordinates make finding an address easy, most people know the city by its neighborhoods.
So come and explore. Just make sure that you take time to watch the weather machine in Pioneer Courthouse Square, choose a favorite blossom at the International Rose Test Garden, ride the only three–door elevator west of the Mississippi, take a pub crawl among the microbreweries, and hobnob with the artists on the first or last Thursday of the month.