24 Reasons to Still Love Portland

As we publish our annual valentine to the city, civic morale is at an all-time low. Consider this, though: If you’re reading this right now, something has kept you here.

Paul Knauls, aka "the Mayor of Northeast Portland," who just turned 90 years old. IMAGE: Joseph Blake Jr.

It's hard to love Portland right now.

Even as we publish our annual valentine to the city, that fact is not lost on us. Complaining that things were better 20 years ago, five years ago, two months ago is a long-standing local pastime. But after a year trapped inside, grousing has turned to doomsaying, and doomsaying is curdling into anger.

Windows are getting smashed nightly. Businesses are closing left and right. Developers are fleeing, and articles in national magazines are proclaiming the city is in its death throes. Sure, many places in America are dealing with similar issues, as leaders are forced to choose between public health and the economy. But in Portland, tensions are particularly high: When the mayor is out here pepper-spraying constituents, you know we're reaching a boiling point.

Consider this, though: If you're reading this right now, something has kept you here.

Maybe it's the half-century-old diner that, so far, has withstood the pandemic and still gives regulars a stool to grumble from. Maybe it's our plentiful greenspaces which, over the past year, have become the only safe places for us to get out and see one another. Or maybe it's because we're constantly unearthing pieces of our history—and, in some cases, bringing them back to life.

Even in relatively brighter times, this issue has served as a reminder of the things that keep us tethered to this place. In a year of incredible loss, it feels even more important to pause and take stock of what remains, like the country's oldest tofu manufacturer, still handcrafting its product after 111 years. Or the honorary mayor of Northeast Portland, who remains a presence in the community at age 90. We haven't yet lost our sense of generosity, nor our weirdness: After all, this is a town that loved a llama so much it's now been stuffed and put on display in perpetuity.

None of that, of course, discounts our very real and numerous problems. You're not imagining things: It's rough out there. But as former mayoral candidate Sarah Iannarone points out, we have been, in the past, a city of bold solutions. And after a decade of buying into our own hype, the rising chorus of angst is pushing us back toward being that city once again—and that, in itself, is a reason to still love Portland.

—Matthew Singer, Arts & Culture Editor

Portland Isn't Dying, but We Are Finally Getting Real With Ourselves

The Oregon Historical Society Refuses to Gloss Over the Ugly Parts of the State's Past

Almost a Year Into the Pandemic, Sen. Michael Dembrow Is Still Sending a Daily Coronavirus Newsletter

In the Worst of Times, Portlanders Stepped up to Help Their Neighbors

Portland Is Still No. 1 in Semi-Factual Superlatives

The Multnomah County Library Set a Record for Digital Circulation Last Year

Portland's Oldest Strip Club Has Gone Virtual to Survive

The Portland Beer Scene Is Continuing to Expand in 2021

Two College Buddies Are Turning a Century-Old Portland Church Into an Awesome New Brewery

Fuller's Coffee Is One of Portland's Last Remaining "Diner-Diners"

America's Oldest Tofu Manufacturer Is Still in Business, and Still Making Tofu by Hand

At Age 90, Paul Knauls Is Still the Honorary Mayor of Northeast Portland

Timbers Midfielder Diego Chará Is Still Here, and Still Earning Yellow Cards

Chuck D of Public Enemy Might Be the Biggest Blazer Outside Portland

Portland Arts Organizations Have Spent the Pandemic Putting Out Free Programming

Kill Rock Stars Is Turning 30. No One Is More Surprised Than Founder Slim Moon.

In a Year Where Congregating Almost Anywhere Is off Limits, We Can Still See Each Other in Portland's Parks

Cathedral Park Is the Best Place in the City to Play Extreme Night Bocce

Newberry Road Is the Best Road in Portland to Train for the Tour de France—or Pretend Like Your Are

A Historic Recording of Allen Ginsberg Reading "Howl" at Reed College Is Finally Getting Released

In the 1940s, Portland Was Briefly Home to an All-Black Baseball Team Called the Rosebuds. This Year, They're Coming Back.

A Designer Is Using Augmented Reality to Resurrect Portland's Fading "Ghost Signs"

Portland Remains a World Hub for Stop-Motion Animation

Rojo, Portland's Late, Lamented Celebrity Therapy Llama, Will Live Forever—In Taxidermy Form

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