The Rose City holds up well in America’s Favorite Cities at the Travel & Leisure website. Eric Stepp, at TPMCafe, anticipating an influx of Southlanders to Portland as a consequence, has compiled a list: Top 10 skills required to survive in Portland, Oregon in his post The City of Roses Smells Just as Sweet.
He gets a few things right, in particular beer, coffee, MAX, and politeness. Some of his observations are amusing and some ring true. But there are a few inaccuracies and points that need clarification. I just now “registered” at TPMCafe to post a comment to this effect, but alas, the site imposes a 2 day waiting period before I can purchase a firearm, er post a comment (?!). So I will post my comments here.
1. Learn to wear a hoodie. Yes, it rains quite a bit (although not as much as the Gulf or Southeastern Coasts). No, we do not use umbrellas. Umbrellas are the mark of hasatan and Californians. Plus, in downtown, most people take the bus or the MAX, making it quite difficult to maneuver around people with umbrellas.
This canard about *real* Portlanders not using umbrellas comes up frequently, and I suppose it’s amusing, but it’s just not true. Portlanders who drive cars don’t generally need umbrellas because they never walk more than 1.5 blocks. Though the rain in Portland is frequent, it is seldom hard. Portlanders who bicycle don’t generally need umbrellas because they have their rain gear (and it’s awkward to use an umbrella on a bike). But Portlanders, like myself, who primarily get around on foot or on Tri-Met are well served by an umbrella. A 30 minute walk in the rain is no fun without an umbrella or Gore-tex from head to toe but I prefer the umbrella. Most bus stops are not covered so a 15 minute wait for the next bus is miserable without an umbrella. Umbrellas are much more convenient than changing into rain pants and raincoat every time it might rain. My point, and I think the point of the real-Portlanders-don’t-use-umbrellas thing, is that Portlanders aren’t afraid of the rain; it doesn’t stop us from going about our normal business, but those of us who spend more than 2 minutes at a time in the rain do use umbrellas, and it’s not a mark of California heritage.
3. Learn the different neighborhoods in Portland. If you’re a yuppie, then you probably don’t want to be stuck in Alberta. If you’re a hippy, you probably don’t want to be stuck in The Pearl. There are over 90 different neighborhoods Portland, so there’s plenty from which to choose. Also, learn how Portland-proper is divided into four quadrants.
10. Ok, I thought of one last thing. Learn to tell the weather by Mount Hood. If you can see the mountain, then it’s a clear day. If you can’t see the mountain, then it’s probably going to rain. Washingtonians have a similar system with Mount Rainier.
I guess it really depends on which part of the city you find yourself in, but since the clouds generally come in from the west, that’s the direction I generally look in to see if rain is on its way. Mt. Hood is east of town.
But credit where credit is due; I think he gets it right here:
9. Look, Portland is a simple city based on good land use, friendly people, strong political affiliation, universities, technology, coffee, and beer. Is there really that much people need to learn to live here?