WITH THIS MONTH’s ISSUE, we present our first “best of the city” feature in almost four years. As a preface to the many great places and things to do discovered by our readers, chosen experts, and the Portland Monthly staff, what better moment to look in on a few things outsiders think Portland does best. So pour a frothy one from a place routinely called one of the best beer cities in the world, and toast a few of the blooms and wilts of the Rose City’s standing in the US and beyond.
Not surprisingly, we continue be in the spotlight when it comes to food and bicycling. In street food, for example, according to Budget Travel we now rule the world, beating out places like Rio de Janeiro and Marrakesh. But a certain “Portland fatigue” might also be setting in. After a long reign at the front of Bicycling magazine’s 50 most bike-friendly cities in the US, we’re now drafting Minneapolis.
If you’re still smarting from the recession, even despite our nearly 2-percentage-point dip in unemployment, take heart: business publisher Kiplinger put us on a list of “11 comeback cities” for our job growth in software and cleantech—even if we only clocked less than half of the 3.4 percent job growth Kiplinger predicted. That’s OK: our economy’s continued sluggishness probably bumps up our Volunteer In America’s rating for helping others: no. 2, with 36.2 percent of our population volunteering 75 million hours, only 0.9 percent from the top (grrrr, Minneapolis again).
Portlanders pride ourselves on our city’s easy navigation sans auto. Yet Walkscore rates us a mere 12th among most walkable US cities, well behind top-ranked New York and San Francisco, but eking out a small lead over 13th Los Angeles. US News & World Report rated Portland the fifth “best city for public transportation” in 2011 (behind top-ranked Denver, but ahead of sixth-place San Jose). Good thing. Forbes ranked us 11th worst in the nation for commutes. For those who think walking, buses, and cars are passé, no better arbiter of alt-transportation than the Wall Street Journal called us best in the land for skateboarding.
If the climbing rents (among the steepest in the nation) in a city that so often ranks as the “most livable” have got you down, consider moving away and just visiting. We have the fifth lowest tax rates for tourists in the country. On your way out of town, pick up some gifts at what the experts at Sherman’s Travel call the seventh best airport in the world for shopping, PDX. And don’t forget to bring your camera: according to Cornell University researchers analyzing Flickr, Portland is the 25th most photographed place on earth.
It’s probably a good thing the study didn’t vet who took all the shots, lest we learn we are the no. 1 city in the world for civic self-portraiture.