Well, that’s a loaded question? Portland is large enough that it might be more likely to challenge another major city as its rival. You know, maybe Seattle. But once you try to take on a titan like that the gloves come off, and the Emerald City hits like an angry Klingon. Portland will take a pretty severe beating against the likes of Seattle. So Portlanders often turn their noses up at the smaller and less cosmopolitan Vancouver, WA.
I don’t know if there was ever a real rivalry in the historical sense. The Oregon Trail opened up a huge wave of settlers that quickly fueled growth south of the Columbia. Portland was well past the ‘Couv’ in local prominence before the turn of the 20th century.
More recently however, there does seem to be a bit of contentious, “us versus them” rivalry happening. From former Mayor Royce Pollard’s attack on Portland coffee mugs at Starbucks locations in the ‘Couv’ to the constant drone of Portland media dissing on our supposed lack of sophistication here on the Washington side of the Columbia. It is a bit insulting when a city best known for strippers and beer tries to play the classy aristocrat card. Portland has sleazy video gambling parlors in every corner of the city and dark, grimy strip clubs all over town. And they want to call us the backwoods Vantucky? Oh, PA-LEEEEZE.
Are Portlanders just stupid? No, I don’t think it’s quite that. They just know that Seattle will kick their ass in every way, so they pick on the smaller kid. You know, kind of like a bully. As a city, Vancouver has well less than half the population of Portland and is largely suburban. Our fair city does not have the big dense downtown with really tall buildings. We don’t have the range of fine dining restaurants that they have in Portland. But we do have a much better city. We don’t have a strip club on every corner. We don’t have raging anti-social freaks constantly disturbing the peace. We don’t have 50-year-old antiquated and broken highways or unpaved streets in our neighborhoods. Yes my friends, drive around in the Rose City and you will find neighborhoods with unpaved streets or streets with pavement so dilapidated it appears to be nothing more than gravel and potholes.
So those Portlanders come over here to the ‘Couv’ and enjoy our lighter traffic, newer and better maintained highways, cleaner neighborhoods and wonderful family friendly businesses, then immediately go on Yelp and whine about the lack of sophistication in Vancouver. Really?
Every time I go to downtown Portland I feel like I need a shower. It’s dirty. I am not talking about some run down neighborhood; every city has some of that. I mean the key public attractions. Tom McCall Waterfront Park, Pioneer Square, Chinatown, etc. It feels stank and dirty. Hey Portland, if you wanna play “the we’re better than you” hand, step up and take some pride in your city. I have been to nearly every major city in the USA and Portland is one of the most dank and grimy in the core tourist and downtown areas.
Oakland California is only about 2/3 the size of Portland. It has a reputation as a rough and tumble city with a very high rate of violent crime. The reputation is well deserved. The murder rate in Oakland is EIGHT times higher than Portland. Yet if you walk around in Downtown Oakland or around Lake Merritt in the heart of the city you will be amazed at the cleanliness. You are just as likely to be harassed in Tom McCall Waterfront Park or Pioneer Square in Portland as Lake Merritt or Jack London Square in Oakland. For all of Oakland’s faults and it’s notoriously high murder rate, the city tries very hard to keep the core areas and tourists spots, clean and safe for people to visit and use. Take notes Portland, your city is way safer than Oakland, but Oakland’s key areas frankly are less slimy than Portland’s. You are less likely to step in human excrement in Oakland than Rip-City. Oakland seems to be cleaner where it needs to be clean than YOU are! So Portland, please spare us your delusions of grandeur at least until you can best Oakland for cleanliness.
Herein lies the core issue. Portland IS proud of their dirty, dingy, freak infested streets. That’s part of the idea behind “Keep Portland Weird”. And my friends that’s fine by me. I take no offense to Portland choosing to embrace the counter-culture side of humanity. But please, if that’s the angle they want to play, then they should stop trying act sophisticated and drop the pretentious attitude. Weird counter-culture and classy sophistication are essentially, mutually exclusive. Don’t come over here whining about us not having class. Look in the mirror Portland, the so-called class seems to be hiding very effectively in your city. I don’t know, maybe its underneath that pile of vomit in the doorway.
Now if the fair denizens of the Rip-City want to come over to the America’s Vancouver and complain that our freak count is too low , I’m good with that. I’m just sayin’ you wanna go rival? We just might kick your ass. Once Vancouver’s ambitious waterfront plans begin to materialize, Portland may have to downsize their rival… again. Maybe they’ll look at Gresham to bully around. Yeah, I think we might just be rivals.
Ah the ‘Couv’ Life; it is good. Better than Portland 😉