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.
Actually it’s five “quadrants”: Southwest, Northwest, Northeast, Southeast, and North.
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?
Hey Dave, thanks for pointing that entry out. I am totally down with your corrections, though I didn’t see anything about this:
and I really don’t think he gets beer. Poor fellow.
I’ve always felt that the no umbrella thing was due to the wind. When it is raining sideways, an umbrella doesn’t do much good. An umbrella that has flipped inside out isn’t much good either. However, many of my formative years were spent on the coast where it’s REALLY windy so maybe that’s why I have this belief.
I gotta say one thing about the umbrellas. I think it is a mark of honor to not need one. Another mark if you carry the umbrella but only when it is raining real -hard-. If you have it in-hand unopened during a winter sprinkle you get extra points.
Negative 50 points if you have (even in-hand and closed) one of those golf umbrellas.
Yo Nborders – but my point is exactly that: two minutes in the rain is nothing and won’t usually prompt too many umbrellas, but “honor” is rather silly if you’re walking or waiting in the rain for 15 minutes. Getting soaked is not honorable, it’s stupid 😉
VJ, yeah the restaurant comment too was odd, especially considering all the recent press about Portland’s restaurant scene plus what us Portlanders knew already. But I had to get to work 😉
Moving from New York City, how does the weather compare? what are job prospects? what are the growth industries? how much does it rain?
Also, im attend L&C Law, was the rep like?
I rarely carry an umbrella, and if I do I invariably leave it wherever I carried it to, so I just don’t bother. The real trick is to learn your layers methinks.
If you don’t play in the rain, you don’t play at all.
and the red line actually goes from beaverton, not downtown (portland).
Eric Berg says
40 years old. All but three-and-a-half living in or near Portland. Never owned an umbrella.
Eric Stepp says
Hi Dave, thanks for the mention. Although I notice people tend to hit my blog posts through TPM Cafe rather than my website. Oh well, not complaining. 🙂
The “Top 10” was more a tongue-in-cheek, so hopefully no one really took them seriously. Although Portland has been getting much more press lately, especially in regards to the bike culture, people still don’t seem to know about us, or Oregon in general. So, I figured why not share some of the memes?
Re: No umbrellas. Yeah, I know it’s not true (I confess, I have one in my backpack right now). The reference is more about the meme of no umbrellas, and the seemingly proliferation of the emo kids now-a-days wearing hoodies. And, you bring up a good point about Portlanders not being “afraid” of the rain. I had a previous manager move here from South Carolina, and she never went outside when it rained. Mind-boggling.
Re: The quadrants. Yeah, there are five, but really, who’s ever heard of a five-part-QUADrant? I always thought it was odd we called them quadrants around here.
Re: Telling the weather by Mt. Hood. It’s more of a reference to using any well-known landmark for predicting the weather. My grandfather once had a “weather predicting rock”… you know the kind, “If you can see the rock, it’s sunny out. If the rock is wet, it’s raining out. Etc.” That’s why I also made the reference to Rainier.
Anyway, thanks again for the link.
Ah, I didn’t even know that your post had originated elsewhere until now.
Cool, yeah my “corrections” were also somewhat tongue in cheek, and also an excuse for me to get on my umbrella soapbox 😉
Carrying an umbrella in Portland is just not normal, it makes you look like you are from out of the state. Also, if you are from out of the state, learn how to pronounce Oregon.