If you’ve ever seen an episode of Portlandia, you know that our city is filled with a wide variety of eccentrics. We reliably make the top 10 of any list of the most hipster cities in America. Every place has a reputation that precedes it — a collection of preconceived notions that may or may not be founded. In our city’s case, there are a ton of inescapable stereotypes that are true.
Rise Of The Local Hipster
While cities declined in the ‘60s and ‘70s, Portlanders invested their social capital in civic groups, creating cooperation where input was solicited on urban planning. At the end of the ‘70s, our city implemented land-use restrictions that assured city growth in a compact way. A healthy transit system allowed accessibility via street cars to downtown locations and rail links transported to the suburbs. Housing was constructed to accommodate all across the income spectrum. Nature was incorporated into the urban landscape.
At the end of the century, Pacific Northwest neighbor Seattle emerged on the pop culture and fashion scene. Our city shifted to goals meant to increase the happiness and sustainability of our existing residents. This made the area an attractive environment for outsiders. Plus, it was cheaper than the aforementioned Emerald City, as well as heralded nearby hipster locations Silver Lake and San Francisco.
You may roll your eyes at some of these, but, hand to the bible, these are the Portland Stereotypes That Are Actually True:
Biking Is The Choice Of Transportation
Just drive down the streets and look to the shoulder of the road.
Kids bike. Adults bike. Even pets bike (at least, as a passenger).
Biking is the choice of transportation in our city. Bridges and streets were paved to accommodate cyclists. Parking spaces are reserved for bikes. There are also the bold that operate unicycles, daring you to make fun of their chosen ride.
According to the Portland Bureau of Transportation, tens of thousands commute to work on a bike — the highest mark in any large American City across our nation.
Portland was named a “platinum” bicycle-friendly community by the League of American Bicyclists — its highest rating. Rip City was also named the #1 bike-friendly city by Bicycling magazine for several years running.
Fun Fact: Each year, our city hosts the annual “World Naked Bike Ride.” Don’t bring your kids.
To be fair, the area is a mecca of brunch locations. And judging from the long lines that snake out of establishments on the weekend, there are plenty of fantastic offerings. I
n particular, the Alberta Arts district is loaded with restaurants — serving not quite lunch, but not quite breakfast either. This place has it all, serving up delicious midday dishes from joints with witty titles like Waffle Window and Petite Provence.
Our city basically invented the trending #sundayfunday social media craze. Even a quick Google search will yield countless spots, where brunch is the most important meal of the day.
Fun Fact: The first brunch cookbook was published in the 1940s. Half the people obsessed with brunch will tell you they have first editions.
It’s how the city structure was planned.
Portland is home to one of the largest urban parks and one of the smallest as well. The latter, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, is known as Mill Ends Park, and has held its miniature claim to fame since 1971. The park is a mere two feet in diameter and is located near the Willamette River waterfront. Locals whimsically call it a park for leprechauns and snails.
For more thorough explorations, our city is home to 5,000 acres of the urban forest at Forest Park alone; the park offers 80 miles of trails, including the Wildwood Trail that connects to Washington Park. In fact, nearly 20% of the city is covered in parkland. According to realtor.com, our city was ranked #1 for nature lovers.
Fun Fact: Mount Tabor is one of six extinct volcanoes in the US to sit within city limits.
Picky With Coffee
It’s so bad, that this coffee shop is self-proclaimed as “snob-free”.
It’s no secret that we locals are very, very, VERY picky when it comes to the flavoring of our roast. Our city has one of the most per-capita independent coffee shops in the nation; top shops include Barista, Ristretto, Coava, and Heart.
“Brew-geeks” are always going to go crazy for the obscure beans, searching city-wide for imports from places like Ecuador and Rwanda. Also, any alternative way to brew that involves state-of-the-art or an unheard drip method is preferred.
Obviously, Seattle is worse, but our city still ranked as the runner-up on both Redfin and Foursquare list of 10 best cities for coffee snobs in the nation.
Fun Fact: Do yourself a favor and read some reviews of local cafes on Yelp. It’s worth your time!
Eager To Protest
See the latest example: intermittent protests from 2020 to the present.
If there’s a reason to demonstrate, our city will eagerly take to the streets. Whether it was successfully keeping fluoride out of the city’s water system, or banning plastic bags from grocery stores — there’s not a plight too big or small for Portlandians. The unrest dates back to 1857 and involves a Mormon missionary and Brigham Young’s defiance of federal law. From there, suffragettes, pacifists, students, civil rights activists, freedom fighters, and many more have all answered the call to action.
Fun Fact: There’s a list of the 21 most memorable protests in our cities history. This list was released back in 2016.