March 25, 2003

Portland Dreams

The trip to Portland, Oregon was wonderful. The city was not quite familiar at first and many things seemed to be about 90 degrees off. One night walking with Joy we came across a public square near the Bank of California building and it was very familiar as it was near (I believe) a building my dad worked in and I remembered the view. The problem was it all was facing the wrong direction.

Portland was rainy in that wonderful clean Oregon way. I spent nearly all of my time downtown. I had a great meal, with Joy, at Jake's Famous Crawfish on Thursday night. The bread at Jake's is an elastic sourdough with a perfect crust. I had the clam chowder, which seems to have a sweet smoked bacon and the hint of wine or sherry. Joy had cod and I had shark for our main course. Each of them was great.

Portland is a city that pays attention to the details. The street and public signage is very clear and easy to use. The city is filled with public art and ornamental iron works. Portland also has a great blend of older buildings which have kept their decorative elements and newer buildings designed with personality. The public transportation is some of the best in a U.S. city as it is easily accessible at street level. On the way out I took the street car to the airport and found it very easy and dropped me off right at the airport needing minimal walking to get inside (there was an issue with a quick door closing that could have been rather problematic, were it not for some friends).

I was very impressed with the PGE Park, a multi-purpose outdoor ballpark-stadium. I saw many Portland Maverick games (now the Beavers) in the 70s here as well as the Portland Timbers professional soccer team. The park has the true feel of a post-WWII ball park with retro signage and iron works. Much of the feel is it is an older park, but it feels new and clean at the same time. Portland is in contention to get a major league baseball team, as is Washington, DC. and from this trip and seeing the park, it has a true baseball feel to the area. The feel reminded me of Fenway Park in Boston, but much closer to the downtown. I know Portland is planning a new Portland ballpark, but PGE seems wonderful.

One of the best assets of Portland has to be Powell's Books. The book assets of the store are truely impressive. I wandered around on Thursday night for a while, but spent a couple hours and a few dollars (or so) there on Monday before leaving. I found great buys (they have used books next to the new books) on many books I had been looking for and picked up Douglas Hofstadter's Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought, which has been of particular interest, but I had not been able to find a copy to see if it was what I had hoped it would entail. My book purchases caused me to have an overage charge for my bag I checked on the airline, but it could have been the Tully's Coffee.

I have many photos of Portland to download and post over the next few days.



Posted Comments

PGE park is actually formerly known as Civic Stadium. It was purchased a few years back and renovated by the local utility company: PGE. They pulled down some newer walls and decor in order to give the park its old appearance back. I work next door to the park and it's nice to be able to walk along the sidewalk and look into the park to see what's going on. My hunch is that the sidewalk is an optimal location for catching home run hits. If you look back in the history of the area you will find that this part of Portland was formerly used for livestock auctions and horse races, as I understand it. Well, enough of my PGE Park history 101. It was good to see you in Portland, Thomas. I look forward to the next IA Summit.

A new travel book just came out for portland its called Fugitives and refugees you should check it out next time you come back.

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