Tuesday, February 14, 2012

An odd feel...

I was reading a friend’s blog this morning – and just as a frame of reference, this friend lives in Brooklyn, on the border between Prospect Heights and Crown Heights, one neighborhood heavily gentrified and the other becoming more so – and it occurred to me the “feel” that is Portland. This city that I’ve moved to is a very nice and livable city, don’t get me wrong; and it has a certain Brooklynness in its neighborhood feels, but there was also something else that I’ve felt since I’ve moved here, but I could never put my finger on it. Then, while reading his article, it suddenly dawned on me what it was.
Portland feels like one huge gentrified neighborhood. Or at least a collection of several gentrified neighborhoods together. It’s not only the lack of racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity that I’m speaking of; there is also just this general feel that everywhere in Portland is pretty much nice. Housing prices are fairly even across the city, and no matter which neighborhood you’re in you can find great strips of nice boutique shops, great places to eat, and a yoga studio.
Now the definition of gentrification is a somewhat nebulous term; and even if it weren’t, I’m not trying to indicate that Portland neighborhoods – and of course not the whole city itself – is gentrified, I’m just saying that everywhere in Portland seems to have that feel. Walking around, you can wander through neighborhoods that you can tell at one time did not have nice boutique shops and yoga studios, but instead had laundry mats and liquor stores. But now those neighborhoods have community gardens, Nike basketball courts (Nike is based in Beaverton, OR - just outside of Portland – and has built basketball courts all around the city of Portland), and about a dozen brunch places.
Just to clarify, I’m not making a value judgment here about either Portland or gentrification, the thought just came to me while reading my friend’s article, and I thought I would share it.

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