Portland: American Eden?


Travel + Leisure magazine has recently named Portland “American Eden,” and the article is worth reading. A few choice quotes:

Rich or poor, they all come to Portland for the quality of life. In the past few years, Portland has become a metaphor for enlightened humanism and progressive government, a little pocket of Sweden in the States.

I assume that’s a compliment?

Portland is a city of youth and intelligence, full of microbrew-chugging tech nerds from the campuses of such higher-learning institutions as Intel, Nike, and Adidas. The new people in town are fleeing mainstream America, especially the deracinated, let’s-grab-a-bite-at-the-multiplex life of the soul-crushing suburbs.

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Portland could be this country’s largest European-style city.

Portland is one of the most polite and civilized American cities imaginable.

Portland grants the gift of hope: the Holy Grail of freedom, the joy to be found in chance and opportunity are the promises this country was founded on, and more American cities could stand to loosen up and let the possibilities of life unfold.

Any American Eden is a fragile proposition and Portland is consciously trying not to repeat the urban-planning mistakes made by its traffic-ridden neighbor Seattle. But the money is pouring in at every level, and tract-house developers are continually making assaults on the Urban Growth Boundary, which rings Portland and was designed to contain suburban sprawl. One of the best things about this city is how quickly visitors can get out of town: true bucolic landscapes–right down to the inevitable pickups bearing Confederate flags–commence just past the city limits, and within an hour or two, it’s possible to be surfing at Cannon Beach or skiing–even in summer–on Mount Hood, the magnificent dormant volcano that looms over the town.

And so on. Go give the whole thing a read if you’re a Portlander, it’ll make you chuckle. And if you just like Portland or think you will, the article is a good overview of some of what makes Portland fun and funky.