23 July 2008

[pdx_media] Willamette Week to the Midlands: Drop Dead


Perusing the WW's annual "Best of Portland" issue is always something of an adventure. It's, at the very least, an interesting tour of trends, fads, and witty writing.

On the other hand, being a resident off what I at one time referred to as "Baja Gresham" is something of a mixed bag. We are fortunate to live in a very quiet corner of town, out near 117th and SE Market, with neighbors who at least keep their nose out of your business if they're not going to be friendlies with you. On my own street, kitty corner and at the bend of the avenue, there's some people who keep chickens in thier back yard. Nobody ever complains aboout this.

The impression you get in the papes about my area of town is somewhat less encouraging. Distressed neighborhoods; Northwest Culture on the Skids. When The Big O's inPortland supplement did an article on the concept some time ago, the street scene used to anchor the article pictured about four blocks of SE Division near 112th Avenue.

Well, I'll go so far as to say that it's hardly the most picturesque corner of Portland, but hey, not everyplace can have that Pearlescent ambiance or require a regular Mark Twain to navigate the Mississippi Ave bars.

WW adds to the disrespect; you see, as far as the "Best of Portland"goes, the wittily-named "districts" that the publication uses to give character to town only go as far east as I-205. That's right, Midlanders, take it on the chin again; as far as WW goes, you aren't really cool enough to even be in Portland. Even though you are in Portland – at least out as far as 164th Avenue north of Stark, and 174th Avenue south of it.

It's easy to understand why it's hard to remember so much of Portland that lies east of I-205 gets forgotten. The information is cleverly hidden in documents called "maps". Here's an example of just such a map downloaded for free at extreme expense and personal risk from this link:

(note: use the link to view it in detail. The illustration is a cut-down version that won't take forever to load in your browser)

What's more ironic is that the name of that brown area extending south of the Banfield in the map is "The Outer Limits – the land east of 60th Avenue and south of the Banfield, where Oregonian reporters fear to tread".

Indeed. Certainly there must be a similarly-witty name for this area east of I-205, where, apparently, Willamette Week reporters fear to tread.

"Best of Portland"?

Best of "Portland", more like.

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Dale said...

Damn straight.

I've seen dumpy, run-down urban places, and east Portland isn't it.

Samuel John Klein said...

You're absolutely right about that.

The inPortland article focussed on some real concerns that people east of I205 have though. There are some pockets of poverty. If you don't have a car, it can be kind of rough out here.

I wouldn't call it "distressed" though. But from the lazy POV of someone west of I205, it must look that way.

Actually, I'm not surprised that WW dissed this area of town. It was big news recently when city council candidates talked about this area. Everyone seemed surprised that there's actually any Portland at all east of the big 205.

Portland parochicalism goes two ways. This is the inward kind.