Portland, the secret gem of the West Coast, is almost too good to be true. Imagine a city where a bookstore occupies an entire city block. A city where brewing beer has been elevated to an art form; a city containing both the world’s smallest dedicated park and largest forested city wilderness. No sales tax, old-fashioned gas stations, the only volcano within city limits, and a world-renowned transit system. You would have to be imagining Portland, and you wouldn’t be dreaming. Secret Portland is the only guide that takes the time to explore the city’s scores of lesser-known treasures the secrets that make it a place worth dreaming about. Leading you to the spots that only locals know, Secret Portland is readable, quirky, and intimate, exposing little-known histories and legends, the best ethnic eateries, chicest cheap hotels, and locally favoured nightspots. Don’t miss the opportunity to watch the weather machine in Pioneer Courthouse Square, choose a favourite blossom at the International Rose Test Garden, ride the only three-door elevator west of the Mississippi, or embark on an epic pub-crawl to the city’s celebrated microbreweries. Let Secret Portland show you a side of the city you’ll never forget. Secret Portland is the latest in the acclaimed and award-winning Secret Guides series. To date, we’ve unlocked the secrets to New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, Providence and Newport, Toronto, Ottawa, Vancouver, and Montréal.
About the Author
Ann Carroll Burgess is an award-winning travel journalist who has written for numerous publicationsincluding the "Boston Globe," "Easy Living," and "Natural History"and served as host of WGUN Atlanta's radio show "Postcards." She is the author of "Atlanta Alive," "The Essential Little Cruise Book," and "The Guide to Western Canada." Tom Burgess is a travel writer, photographer, and retired chemical engineer who has traveled worldwide and written or contributed to seven travel books. They live in Portland, Oregon. Linda Rutenberg is the photographer of "Secret San Diego" and "Secret Vancouver." She lives in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Read an Excerpt
Just imagine a city where a bookstore occupies an entire municipal block. A city where the art of brewing beer has been reborn. A city of the world’s smallest dedicated park and the largest forested city wilderness. Well, you would have to be imagining Portland.
Portland is not what you expect. It is not a smaller version of Seattle. Oh, there are some similarities — both have water, both have mountains. One has moved constantly forward with new architecture, freeways, and high–tech industries. That’s Seattle. Portland, on the other hand, has kept most of its heritage architecture, built one of the finest public transport systems anywhere, and lured its own share of industry. Like all good siblings, the two have similarities and differences. It’s the differences that make Portland so special.
Built more on a European model, Portland is a walker’s nirvana. The city’s streets, which feature statues, fountains, and half–size city blocks, were part of the reason why Portland was selected by Walking magazine as one of America’s best walking cities. Some historians claim that these people–friendly city blocks were the invention of greedy real estate developers who wanted to create more corner lots, which fetched higher prices. Others, however, believed that the shorter blocks were created to allow more natural light to fall down to street level.
Whatever the reason, when you are confronted with what appears to be a 20–block walk, relax, breathe deeply, and know that your next destination is closer than you think.
Portland has kept its residents in mind as it has evolved. During its modern era, from the close of World War II, the city has added such utopian refinements as an extensive transit system and an urban plan that strictly limits the height of buildings and the space between them.
Bridges also give Portland a distinct profile, covering the city like a latticework over the Willamette River. This riverfront city is a multi–faceted place. Like the confluence of the Willamette and the Columbia Rivers, commerce, history, classic architecture, and the arts come together smoothly to create a flourishing metropolis.
Portland is much more than its physical attributes. The city has a progressive beat, even if the drummer keeps the cadence slow and steady. This is a city that knows how to make the best of its sunny days, from the numerous sidewalk cafés and outdoor festivals to the passion for gardening.
And gardening truly is a passion in the Northwest. “Grow it” and “show it” seem to be the bywords, not just for the ever–present roses, but also for swarms of rhododendrons, squadrons of perennials, and legions of trees.
That outdoor passion, along with having the head office of Nike in the backyard, has certainly added to the city’s zeal for sports. Snowboarding and skiing are doable almost all year long on Mount Hood; the rivers offer boating, water skiing, and fishing opportunities; and the hiking trails are almost too numerous to mention.
Need some more reasons why Portland is such a great place? Let’s see. No sales tax, old–fashioned gas stations, the only extinct volcano within city limits in the United States, clean air, an excellent transit system. I could go on and on, but then there wouldn’t be any point in writing the rest of this book.
When trying to find an address, it’s wise to think of the city in terms of quadrants: northwest, north/northeast, southeast, and southwest. Numbered avenues are parallel and run north–south, with street addresses starting from Burnside Street, which divides north and south. Named streets are also parallel and run east–west, with the Willamette (which divides east and west) at zero. But, to be honest with you, while the grid system and coordinates make finding an address easy, most people know the city by its neighborhoods.
So come and explore. Just make sure that you take time to watch the weather machine in Pioneer Courthouse Square, choose a favorite blossom at the International Rose Test Garden, ride the only three–door elevator west of the Mississippi, take a pub crawl among the microbreweries, and hobnob with the artists on the first or last Thursday of the month.
What People are Saying About This
"For a rare view into a treasured city, Secret Portland offers a quirky perspective." Sacramento Book Review