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michael conroy

I remember the first time I went to NY and was awestruck by the vastness of all the high rises and it made me think about how a friend described it in comparrison to Portland. He said that "New York was a city with a park in it and Portland was a park with a city in it". Fitting, right?


A lot of people I knew back in Mississippi always said the same thing.

In this situation though I'd have to agree. New York is just a bit much. Portland on the other hand is just the right size, more human size to me.

...but boy do I love a visit to New York!!!


As a current resident of DC, your review sounded like someone who visited the city, made a snap judgement, and them moved on.

But whatever, I like Portland better as well.

Uh, and the Bush Administration just allocated 1 billion dollars to DC schools.


I remember a number of years ago the actress Faye Dunaway in town to shoot a movie being asked by a local reporter what she thought of Portland and this is what I recall her saying. . . I live in NYC. I love NYC but if NYC were a small town, Portland would be it.


Justin, you're half right. My visit to DC this time around was short and not even remotely comprehensive. But I also lived there for two years, and many of my comments were based on that experience more than my short recent visit there. I like DC in a lot of ways, so I hope you aren't coming away with the idea that I dislike it. I'm just aware of its problems, from incompetent city government to a disproportionate suburban feel. But I'll always be loyal to DC as well.

Carl Herko

Great post. I'm an East Coast native, and when I lived closer I used to visit both NYC and DC frequently. I still love NY -- it is the center of the universe, after all -- but I've always thought that to live there successfully you had to be either very young (and thus willing to endure all the hassles) or very rich (so you could buy your way out of the same). I guess pretty much the same could be said of DC. Now when I go back, as I did a few weeks back, I'm just amazed at how breathtakingly expensive everything is. And I'm reminded that, in comparison, hassle-free Portland somehow managed to get nearly everything right. (Even visiting downtown Seattle now makes me appreciate the human scale of Portland.)

When we decided to move here last year and started telling our friends and colleagues back east, I was surprisd by two things: 1) Very few people knew anything at all about Portland. 2) But of those who did, not a single one had anything negative to say about Portland.

And Portland does have one great thing that neither NYC or DC do: a sort of indefinable buzz that makes you think, 10 or 20 years down the road, it will be an even better place to live than it is today


I love Michael Conroy's comment. Having lived in NYC for eight years and in Portland for eight years, I think there's another thing that really separates the two. In Portland, there is really a DIY ethic, a sense that each individual has some power to get things done, and that there's a community that will support you. You can get people to vote on your ballot measure. You can open your own clothing shop. You can make your own film and get it shown somewhere. Hell, you can create your own film festival, put up a screen in your backyard and people will come. Portland is small enough so that you can do things that get seen and heard, but big enough so that those things matter. It's really ideal.

Except for the theater. The theater was much better in New York. Oh, yeah - and Polish food. Just try and find pierogi out here when the Polish Festival isn't going on. Okay, other than that, Portland is really ideal.


Everyone's got great comments so far on Brian's thoughts.

As for me, I don't have much experience with DC except a week when I was very young, which obviously doesn't count for much. However, I can tell you its def not on my list...

As for NYC...what can you say except that it really is the capitol of the world. There is so much to do there and its so vibrant! I've never been anywhere like it; its almost like a fantasy turned into reality.

But of course, NYC has some big downsides.

I'm not in PDX at the moment, however, I'm a native and I've spent five great years there post university. At this time I'm enjoying living in Europe and expanding my already wide horizons (thanx to ptown) and maybe I'll try NYC for a year or two in a little while.
BUT...I know that my heart is and will be in my hometown. Its a place I love and appreciate more as I get older and experience other cities.
Portland is really unparalleled in my estimation. And while there are many changes I would make (if I were king...) I know that it has that something that only a very few cities have.
Even though PDX is small, I would def compare it to NYC, Paris, SF and maybe even other "great" cities (tho of course there are many great cities I haven't spent a long time in, and many more that I've never been to).

As someone wrote, Portland is going to even better in the coming decades. Its exciting to think of the possibilities, and I really think Portland can be THE city of the early 21st century... Size won't have anything to do with it. It'll be about substance.

Randy Rapaport

I'm sitting at the Jet Blue waiting area at JFK for my long, 6 1/2 hour entry back to Portland, opened my iBook and visited this site.

And I had to say something.

I am high with the intensity of experiences over the last non-stop 60 hours in the city. Belle & Sebastian were amazing. The sun was out, with snowy landscape. Really noticed the rich architecture, the public art (statues of the lions at the library), of the city and realized that the large scale of buildings and vastness of open areas such as central park south along with the beauty of the empire state building were sublime, which I stared at for a time in meditation.

I'm was in NYC to bring some of the energy back home. To that end, I am planning a "creative village" concept for the North Mississipp District with the amenities that such a place could offer.
Use your imagination and you'll get the idea.

I will be partnering with one of the great architecture firms In New York City. The villiage will include several types of housing, both for sale and rentals, live/work and retail spaces. all tenants will be local or from the region.

Oh, they're calling my row...


Wow - The Belmont Street lofts guy speaks! Randy, must say - love what you're doing to this town! Keep it up, looking forward to seeing what kind of creative energy can be harnessed in PDX

Justin M

You guys forgot what else makes Portland so great: very few minorities and plenty of white people.

Heh. Just kidding. But honestly, Portland has got to be one of the whitest cities in the US.

And Brian, I agree with your comment on DC Government. Truly incompetent.

Joshua Chang

I believe there are certain stigmas associated with such landmark cities like New York and Washington D.C. that perpetuate the "Anybody who's anybody" notion in the professional world, especially among the younger ones. People tout their design prowess by prefacing with the fact that they have worked in The Big Apple, like somehow it has made them good designers. Granted the conditions are harsher, competition stronger, and people do have to be on their toes more, but is it that much different than anywhere else? Unless you live in a locality where your specific firm has the sole market share, you are going to have to be very business conscious, be competitive, and be creative, or you wouldn't be able to survive. In recent times, several of my contemporaries have made the move to NY, and in current conversations speak as if there were NO design opportunities in Portland. But with a bit of detective work, one will find that the design community in Portland stands head-to-toe among the best in the country. Look at the work that comes out of the PDX Design Collaborative, our world class architecture firms, our industrial designers, as well as out burgeoning art sector. There is a reason why many of the biggest firms in all areas of commerce and design have decided to call Portland their own, Nike, Ziba Designs, and Addidas being just a few.

Another question is, why do so many who move to this so called "Mecca" of design in the east, move back? It almost seems as though they need to prove their mettle in such an environment. For those who say that the Big City affords them more contact with current veins in design are right. It does, for it drops it right in your lap and blurts itself into your face. Passive learning indeed. In my experience, those who work, who seek out, who actively research the "pulse" of architecture become better designers in the end, no matter where they come from. In fact, current Pritzker prize winner Thom Mayne himself came from a very unassuming birth, as well as manyother that did not work within the boundaries of New York-like settings.

There are other things about Portland that add to its great eminence, the pedestrian quality is among the best on an international scale. Brian mentioned the awe inspiring views of our spectacular natural landmarks, but also the largest urban forest system in the country, as well as the prior mentioned beer, wine, and coffee virtually unrivaled nationwide.

As a provincial city, it has the framework for a huge potential of growth. With careful forethought and planning regarding the city as a WHOLE, Portland’s prominence on the scene can only become more brilliant.

matt daby

A few comments, some likely off the subject of the post, but anyways..

Brian: Cheers to the Dischord blurp! Did you see the documentary on 930 F Street at MusicFest Northwest last summer? Love me some Minor Threat!
Valarie: Try the little booth at Saturday market for perogies. If it is still there.
Randy: the belle and sebastian! We've got some good music fans on this here site! Keep up the good work!
See you all on the road.

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