Saturday, September 22, 2007

A tour of the city

Boy, it has been a busy week. I thought retirement was supposed to be relaxing. Trouble is I'm not entirely retired. I worked all day today at a client's. It's a company that makes big commercial kitchen fans. Their customers include Disneyland, cruise ships, colleges and universities, the Navy and lots of restaurants. I do the design and layout for their manuals and brochures. It's not the most glamorous graphic design work there is, but it is oddly challenging and the people, mostly nerdy engineer types, are really nice. They call me when they need me. They are about my only clients at this point.

Yesterday I was retired and got to do something fun. A group I belong to took a tour of downtown Portland, something I have never done in the 14 years I have lived here.
Here we are with our guide, Rich, a transplanted New York architect, who is very enthusiastic about Portland. He called Portland "the last best hope for urban America." According to him Portland, the 25th largest metropolitan area in the United States, has the most vital downtown, best public services, least crime, best green spaces, best public transportation, great architecture, etc, etc.

We started our tour, on the cobblestones where Portland started, near the Willamette River. We're at the Skidmore Fountain, named for one of the founding fathers—the one who won the coin toss and got to name the city "Portland." (It would have been called "Boston" if he'd lost—seriously.)

Correction: It was near the Skidmore Fountain site that Asa Lovejoy and Francis Pettygrove tossed the coin to name the city. Pettygrove won and the city was named Portland. Got my facts tangled up! And, for Wanda, that happened in 1843.

We saw a lot of the old buildings, and remnants of old buildings from the city's beginnings. Many of the buildings in this part of town have cast iron facades.
Are you bored yet? Not me—I just love this stuff! Here's a building that is being restored and will be used by the University of Oregon for their school of architecture programs in Portland.

And the view from across the street.

Isn't that going to be fabulous? The colors make me very happy.

I was the only person on the tour with a camera and I took about 40 pictures. And I'm going to show you every, single, one! Just kidding, but I am just getting started. This was the beginning of the tour. Next we go uptown, but I'll save that for another day. Here's the view from Old Town, looking uptown. I like the juxtaposition of the old buildings and the view of the US Bank Tower, Portland's tallest building. It is affectionately called "big pink."

I love Portland. I was kind of sad, thinking that when we move we won't be able to say we're from Portland anymore, but Rich, our guide, put my mind at rest. He asked if we all lived in Portland. One of the group said she was from Tigard, a suburb of Portland. Rich said, "Hey, that's Portland! The suburbs—Tigard, Wilsonville, Beaverton—nobody ever heard of them. Anybody asks ya—you're from Portland, Oregon, Baby!"


  1. Thanks for a tour of the historical part of Portland. It has older architecture than I would have thought it would have. What year was the city founded?

  2. I love Portland too. Fortunately over the years we have taken some of the tours. Thanks for the reminders and photos of places we haven't been.

  3. Anonymous8:48 AM

    What a wonderful thing to do! And go ahead--share all 40 pics with us. The ones we've seen so far are fabulous. I love Portland, too. It is just such an easy city to be in--for all the reasons that Rich mentioned.
    Seattle is harder--the traffic, the impossible hills, the scary indigent areas--but I love Seattle,too. I took a tour of the old town underground decades ago. It was just so fascinating that I don't think I've forgotten a thing. So, even though I'm a ferry ride away, I will sometimes say that I'm from Seattle. I'm pretty sure will continue to have a more legitimate claim as a Portlander. :o)

  4. Interesting that you've been in tour mode, too. I just blogged about our recent experiences a couple of days ago. The one you went on sounds like it would supplement the ones Jerry and I have taken very nicely; we got some architecture, but not as much as I'd like.

    I don't know if your tour took you to the Oregon Historical Society, but the very coin that Lovejoy and Pettygrove tossed to determine the name of the city is on display there. Or so they say.