25 Reasons to Love Portland: Our Annual Valentine to the City

Like any long-term relationship, maintaining that spark with your hometown takes work. With any luck, this issue will help rekindle your passion for Portland just like it has for us.

Not that long ago, everyone had a crush on Portland. These days, we’d be lucky to get even one swipe right.

Well before Fred and Carrie shaped the global perception of our city as a haven for bearded brewers, bike-loving animal rights activists, and jobless hipsters following their dreams, publications like The Washington Post and The New York Times were swooning over Stumptown’s livability and niceness.

Not anymore.

Now, headlines focus on Portland’s “summer of rage” and “year of unrest.”

Sure, 2020 was tough on all of us. But we came into 2021 with renewed hope. Then we saw skyrocketing gun deaths, an unprecedented heat wave, and a Greek alphabet’s worth of COVID variants.

Yet the fact remains that there’s still much to adore in our great city. And in our annual valentine to Portland, we’re giving you 25 reasons to love the place you call home. Some may not be new, but new to you. Others are projects that got underway in the past 12 months.

We’re grateful, for instance, that Portland has built two handsome new bridges not meant for cars, but for people, making it safer to get around.

The city is also greener now that tens of millions of dollars have been invested in parks east of 82nd Avenue.

Our food and beverage scene continues to find creative ways to thrive, whether that’s by building impressive outdoor dining rooms, launching wacky theme bars that make us smile, or opening so many high-quality pizzerias that it garners national attention.

And you’ve got to admire Portland institutions that refuse to die, which include a moldering mall and the city’s oldest bookstore.

Like any long-term relationship, maintaining that spark with your hometown takes work. With any luck, this issue will help rekindle your passion for Portland just like it has for us.

—Andi Prewitt, Arts & Culture Editor

No. 1 Because Portland Is Still Opening Quirky Themed Bars, Even During a Pandemic

No. 2 Because Portland Has a Citywide Alternative to Policing

No. 3 Because Portland Is Still No. 1 in Semi-Factual Superlatives

No. 4 Because People Living in North Portland Homeless Camps can Have Their Trash Picked Up for Free

No. 5 Because Portlanders Came Up With the App to Get People Off the Grid

No. 6 Because a Semi-Secret, All-Ages Club With a Strict Vaccination Policy Is the Hottest Place for Underground Music in Portland

No. 7 Because Portland Finally Got Big Money Out of Local Politics

No. 8 Because Our City’s Synchronized Swimming Team Is Aquadorable!

No. 9 Because Not a Single Independent Portland Movie Theater Went Out of Business During the Pandemic

No. 10 Because the Pork Roll Is STILL Having a Moment...No. 11 And So Is Our Pizza Scene

No. 12 Because East Portland Used to be a Park Desert but Now It’s Got More Greenspaces

No. 13 Because Forest Park’s Nooks and Crannies Can Still Surprise

No. 14 Because Portland’s Cannabis Community Continues to Find Creative Ways to Collaborate With Other Industries

No. 15 Because Portland Makes Vodka from Cheese…No. 16 And Whiskey From Ramen!

No. 17 Because Portland Is Building Bridges for People, Not Cars

No. 18 Because You’re Going to be Rewarded With Cheap, Second-Hand Blazers Tickets

No. 19 Because Portland’s Thrifting Scene Is Thriving Despite the Pandemic

No. 20 Because Downtown Portland’s Oldest Used Bookstore Lives Again!

No. 21 Because Even Portland’s “Slow Down” Signs Are Absurdly Polite

No. 22 Because Lloyd Center Refuses to Die

No. 23 Because the Jazz Scene Is Better Than Ever These Days

No. 24 Because Portland’s Street Dining Setups Are Better Than Most City’s Indoor Restaurants

No. 25 Because Portland Still Has a Free Print Alt-Weekly.