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Matt Rochlin

A City Guide to Portland

Finding a Place to Live
Portland Pictures: What does Portland really look like? Great pictures organized by neighborhood. This is an extraordinary resource. Just type in an address or intersection in Portland and you can see all sorts of info including topo, crime, satellite photos, improvements, property taxes, and tons more.

Our Sponsor.
- Really nice apartments in good neighborhoods. (503)-274-4066
Portland Craigslist Classifieds: A wonderful (and free) service. Craigslist is knocking newspapers out of business because their goal is to help people--instead of getting as much money per warm body as for example...
The Oregonian Classifieds Online: Since it's the only real daily paper, some listings are only here. Most listings are only in the Sunday edition (which you can buy Saturday).
Willamette Week Classifieds online: Major Portland Weekly

DRIVE: Figure out where you want to live and get in your car or vice-versa. Some apartments are only advertised with little for-rent signs on the lawn. You might find a deal, but more likely a property manager too cheap to advertise isn't going to give up much.

Buying a House Real Estate Agent Susan Martens runs an Excellent website. I don't know if she is a good agent or not, but this is a terrific resource for anyone moving to Portland. If she gives the same attention to her clients, you should be in good hands.
MLS is the multiple listing system. To help sell a house, a broker can put it on this system. He loses part of his commission, but everyone in the world (including you) can find the house on the MLS. Here are a couple places to start your hunt:
Re MAX is a big broker. This is their homesearch and MLS page.
Residential MLS is a site dedicated to helping you search the MLS

Other Portland Guides that are Better than this one:
Hey! It's not like I'm making any money from this. So not surprisingly some people are doing the List-'O-Links thing better.
PDX Dirt Cheap More than just cheap Portland. This site is a good intro to neighborhoods and the general Portland vibe. Funny too. Claims to be a guide to SE Portland, but it's got more than that. It's like walking across a shallow river and then suddenly finding yourself up to your neck. Really deep on groceries and food, radio and a couple other topics.
Susan Martens Portland pages She gets three mentions on this page because she's just that good. Her either has or links to just about all the info you need (except other real estate brokers). Liz Mitchell has put together some really useful and comprehensive Portland info.

Portland is divided more than geographically into five broad sectors defined by the Willamette river East and West, and Burnside Blvd. North and South. That covers Northwest, Southwest, Northeast, and Southeast Portland. The fifth area, North Portland, is roughly a triangle east of the Willamette, South of the Columbia, and West of Martin Luther King Boulevard (route 99E). Portland remains a city profoundly segregated by race, ethnicity, and money. The West Side of Metropolitan Portland has always been richer, the East, poorer, and the North poorest (a crude categorization with many exceptions, but unfortunately very real). The racial boundaries can seem almost surreal to migrants from NYC, SF, LA, or even Seattle. Within those five sectors, Portland is further divided into many neighborhoods, many with clear personalities and vocal neighborhood associations. Neighborhood Map from the City
Printable Neighborhood Map (Adobe Acrobat PDF Format) A great site run by a realtor. TONS of good info for people moving to Portland including some useful info on Portland neighborhoods. She has a great newsletter if you're looking to buy a house.
Portland Neighborhood Guide A little heavy on the Google maps, but Anderw Hall does give his own perspective to the neighborhoods along with lots of pictures that give you a good feel for each

Education: Schools, Colleges, Omphaloskepsis
Oregon voters have cut school funding down to a stubby nub, so be careful where you put your kids 6 hours a day. If you're too old for compulsory public education, the number of colleges and wanna-be universities around town more than stretches crediblity. Piece of Advice: DON'T GO TO ART SCHOOL. 2 or 3 years and $80,000 from now, I'll be able to say I told you so. (MFA). Cooking School not so smart either. In fact, if they advertise on TV, just at least factor in that they might be sleazeballs.
K - 12 Elementary - High School Ratings for Portland and Oregon: These are in Adobe PDF format so you will need the Acrobat reader you can get from Adobe's site.
Portland Public Schools Official Site Phone: (503)916-2000
Colleges: Just because it says "University" on the label, don't expect Harvard. Many are religious or trade oriented (U of P...).
Portland State University: Recently becoming a good school in many areas. The biggest in Oregon (in student count).
Lewis and Clark College: Another large Portland campus. Home of Monica and so much more. Portland Community College
Schools for Special People (you know who you are):
Naga Center: Thai Massage, Medicine, Language and ThoughtThey asked for a link. I just couldn't think of anything snarky or bad about Thai Massage. Can you? It goes with our Omphaloskepsis Eduction theme too.
Pacific Northwest College of Art Who says Art School is the last refuge of a scoundrel?

Getting a JOB
Portland Craigslist Classifieds
100 Best Places to Work in Portland: Jobdango
Classifieds from The Oregonian (the only big Portland daily paper)
Usual Suspects:,, hotjobs

Stuff to Do
Portland Tribune Guide to the Next 72 Hours
Movies at
Recommended Events from the Portland Mercury (Great Music & Entertainment info)
Semi-official Portland Events Calendar
NW Film Festival A good annual festival with good (not just cryptic) movies.
Country Fair An annual crafts, music, art and (of course) food fair. Naked hippies take over the woods near Eugene (South of Portland) and create a tie-dyed post-apocalyptic theme park. And it's now drug free! (a real accomplishment).

Mt. Hood and The Columbia Gorge are the jewels, but the area around Portland has dozens of amazing and just fun sights to see and trails to tread. The Oregon Coast is spectacular, but no need to fret about tan lines.
Forest Park: The Largest forested city park in the world. If the Portland sunshine is getting to you, you can find about 40 miles of shade here. And some excellent hiking trails.
Columbia Gorge Waterfalls: There are something like 70 bona fide waterfalls in The Gorge, and all but one or two are very beautiful.
General guide to the coast

Tourist Stuff
Is Portland a tourist town? Not in the Disneyland sense. In fact, Portland sucks if you're a go-to-a-Museum, visit-a-landmark kind of tourist. But if you're a hike a trail, raft a river, ski a mountain tourist, Portland is hot stuff. But for the record, here are some of the traditional tourist-tourist Portland places:
Washington Park has several nice things:
Japanese Garden
Oregon Zoo
International Rose Test Garden
OMSI: Oregon Museum of Science and Industry and Gift Shop GeeGaws
Saturday Market: Tourist friendly Arts & Crafts market with a carnival food court (open warm months)
Portland Visitors Association Site
The Chinese Garden While not in the same league as the Japanese Garden, this little one-square-block oddity is a walled oasis in the otherwise seedy and seedy-adjacent Old-Town district (the part of NW Portland closest to the river and just North of Downtown).

Cars,Streetcars, Buses, Maps & Gridlock
Google Transit Google's slick new Portland Transit Trip Planner: map of routes, connections, fares, schedules... Neat!
The Best Street Map Site (google) Map Not as good as google maps (now that google shows one-way streets)
Bus, Streetcar, Light-Rail (Tri-Met)
Traffic Cameras and Incident Map
Bike Path Maps: Portland is an excellent city for Biking and bicycle commuting (except for the rain. And the rain).
Streetcar schedules & info
Portland Biking Info
The Pearl & Downtown 1st Thursday Galleries Walking Map
Portland Bike Blog & Advocacy
PDX Portland International Airport Bad site with useful info.

Help Someone Else:
Hands On Portland is a kind of umbrella organization that helps groups who need volunteers for (usually) worthy efforts find those volunteers. You could be a needy group, a willing volunteer, or a worthy effort. You will probably meet a bunch of cool people too.

Or you could just sit around and hope it all fixes itself.

Portland is not a newspaper town. The only major daily is "The Oregonian," and some days it seems like even their local stories are all from the AP or the NY Times.
They pay a company to post extracts from the paper and classifieds online (they haven't quite figured out this new-fangled internet thingy): - the Oregonian
Portland Tribune Free paper published Tuesdays and Thursdays. Good entertainment info. Aggressive, if sometimes biased investigative reporting.
Willamette Week Free Portland weekly paper. Extensive entertainment and prostitution listings.
The Portland Mercury is a humor/alternative free weekly. Also with good events & entertainment info.

Phone: The Portland area codes are 503 and 971. For some soul destroying reason, YOU MUST DIAL 503. Just to make it more fun, for some numbers you MUST DIAL 1-(503) as if you were dialing long distance. There is no way of knowing when you need to dial 1 first. It just won't work if you don't. You also MUST DIAL 971 (but I don't think you ever need to dial 1-(971). Elmer Fudd continues to run our telephone exchange and refuses to resign despite ongoing protest.
Qwest regular landline and mobile
Verizon regular landline and mobile (seems to have the best coverage area at the moment)
T-mobile can be the cheapest mobile, depending on your plan. Not the best coverage.
Electric:PGE Pacific Gas and Electric 1 (800) 743-5000
Gas: Northwest Natural nwnatural.com1 (800) 422-4012
Cable: Comcast is the cable monopoly in Portland and is indifferent to the human cost of high cable pricing.

Internet Service Providers and Broadband
Your choices are dial-up, DSL, or Cable, or Wireless. The Grand Portland Free Wireless Plan ain't happening. DOA.
Wireless: Clearwire is new and seems to be the best option now if your area is supported. You get a wireless connection to your home (or mobile - to your laptop) cheaper and faster than DSL
Dial-up: I haven't found anything special in Portland. seems as good as any and better than some.
DSL: If you can get Verizon DSL (varies by which part of Portland you're in), that seems to be the best deal for the speed at the moment outside of Clearwire wireless. Qwest covers a big chunk of Portland though and their prices as of this writing don't seem very competitive.
Cable: Comcast is the local monopoly and their prices reflect that. You get a small discount if you get TV too. Dependable and fast though.

Portland Art Museum: It won't be mistaken for the Met, the admission fee is high, and it sometimes seems more like a hobby for the old,rich, and bored, but it is worth seeing. They sometimes catch good national touring exhibits (but charge even more for them).
First Thursday Galleries: On the bright side Portland has several very good galleries. On the first Thursday of every month, many galleries are open in the evening and serve as a nominal core for an ever growing street fair in the Pearl District.
Last Thursday Art Fest is kind of like First Thursday, but smaller, more multi-cultural, less crowded, in the "Alberta Arts" district of NE Portland.
PDX Supercrafty If you are an Arts & Crafts person and willing to admit it to yourself, you can find some great info on both personal and professional craftiness here.

For the Kids and Addled Adults:
The Portland Children's Museum
Library Portland has a really good library system that makes a good effort at getting the books to the people. You can even have books mailed to you. Not just for kids.

Restuarants & Food
Willamette Week's index of restuarant reviews
Portland Citysearch
Grubnow is a Portland specific restaurant search engine with consumer menus and ratings.
Pho Hung: The best Vietnamese beef noodle soup in the city and cheap too.
I think there might be a Starbucks somewhere in Portland. Actually, I just looked it up. According to there are 110. (!) I like Coffee People a lot better.
Kettlemen's Bagels has the best bagels. Authentic and tasty.
Trader Joes Sort of a specialty market/wine shop. Great prices, good food, and lots of odd stuff to try

Portland definitely has lots of good shopping spots.
PDX Dirt Cheap is an excellent detailed guide to buying everything for cheap. The guy who put this site together really put in a lot of effort and knows the city far better than I do. Tons of good opinionated info. Definitely check it out.
The main shopping areas are Downtown (especially the area around Pioneer square including the Pioneer Place Mall, NW 23rd Ave (aka Nob Hill), The Pearl (many terrific if not-so-cheap stores and more opening all the time), Lloyd Center (NE Portland Mall), The Hawthorne District (SE, many fun and funky shops), The Woodburn Outlet Mall (supposedly attracts more tourists than Mt. Hood), Clackamas Town Center (Home of the 100ft Tonya Harding Memorial two-by-four).

Beer and Sports
Beer is big doings in Portland. Some of the best beer in the world is brewed right here. And gets drunk (drank?) here too.
McMenamins: A local chain of brewpubs, each with a distinctive character with great beer.
Annual Brewfest
the blazers are a humble basketball franchise never seeking the spotlight and seemingly always willing to yield to their friends, The Lakers of the South. The Blazers are the only professional sporting franchise in Portland or that will ever be. Until LA finally breaks off and falls into the Pacific.

Save the Cheerleader, Save the Earth: Recovered, Recycled, Reused, Renewable
Portland has lots of stuff nobody wants that somebody wants...
Tamara Goldsmith's Gallery Art from Reinvented Materials
Portland Rebuilding Center: Stuff Salvaged from old Buildings for your New Building
Metro Paint: Leftover paint remixed reclaimed and cheap

"Solar is HOT" (P. Hilton Feb 14, 2029)
Solar energy info: Seminars, faqs, good resource
Office of Sustainable Development: FREE MONEY! (and very helpful people)

The Fuzz
Portland Police Bureau 911 or non-emergency 503-823-3333. The media would have one believe the Police spend all their time beating up old ladies, but they provide many many other useful public services. "Making a Difference Together."

Fire: Portland Fire Bureau: 911. They don't list a non-emergency number so at least burn some toast before you call.

Copyright 2009 Matthew Rochlin