Work took me to a conference in Portland [Oregon, not Maine] for a few days. I heard a lot about Portland, about the Pacific Northwest in general, mostly about the rain, how much people like outdoor activities, and that they don’t do sweet tea like it’s done in the south.
I didn’t have much time to sight see the way I wanted to, but I did get out a few hours each day to take a few pictures and explore. The first thing that caught my attention, and stayed on my mind, was how green Portland is. And not just beds of flowers along the sidewalks, but full grown trees, lining the streets and everywhere in general.
And it’s a very artsy city. There are little oases scattered throughout the downtown area, little quiet parks here and there, tucked between buildings to make you feel like you’re not downtown but in the suburbs.
Pettygrove Park, along with Lovejoy Fountain Park, is in what was known in the 1960s as Portland’s urban renewal area. Both Lovejoy and Pettygrove Parks were unnamed until the opening of the parks. The same coin that Mr. Lovejoy and Mr. Pettygrove used to determined whether our city would be named Portland or Boston was flipped to determine which park would be Lovejoy and which would be Pettygrove. Pettygrove Park, 300 yards away from the crashing cascades of water in the Lovejoy Fountain, is composed of serene mounds of grass, trees, and stonework laid out among paths.
In 1979, the Portland Development Commission installed Manuel Izquierdo’s muntz bronze sculpture of a reclining woman, The Dreamer. Izquierdo, professor emeritus of Pacific Northwest College of Art, said that his sculpture “speaks of hope, of beauty and serenity, of love, and for a better life in our midst.” He filled the sculpture with foam so that falling rain would make a gentle sound like a kettledrum rather than the ringing it would make if hollow.
Not far from Pettygrove Park is Lovejoy Fountain Park. There’s really no words to describe it. It’s not your typical water cascading over an edge. It’s architecturally beautiful. At the top of the park there are little groves in the sidewalk where you see the water rushing towards the waterfall. Too hard to describe and I don’t know why I didn’t take more photos of where the water starts. But the design of the entire park is just great.
And then there are pieces of art along the sidewalks, fascinating pieces sprinkled throughout downtown.
And then there was this sculpture at the Standard Insurance Center at SW Taylor Street and SW 5th Ave.
Interesting, though it looks like the guy is reaching for a breast.
Looking for a place to grab a bite to eat, I took to the Internet. Something uniquely Portland; or at least something I haven’t and probably won’t find on the east coast. There were several cool looking places, but I chose the one with one $ sign next to the word price.
I landed at The Brunch Box. Much smaller inside than I was expecting, but the line hanging out the door was a good sign. It’s a hamburger joint. But not the type of hamburgers you’ll find at a regular hamburger joint. These are those unique creations you find on TV shows in Travel Channel.
Good the the line was long. I needed time to figure out what to get. There was the OMG Burger, but the fried egg and spam on it didn’t seem appealing to me. Burgermeister didn’t look like it would fit in my mouth. Trial by Fire had aardvark habanerno hot sauce? I passed on them and The Outlaw, Big Kahuna, Redonkadonk, Lil Mo — I want to meet the person who named these pieces of gourmet art.
Still deciding when I got to the front of the line, I went with YouCanHasCheeseburger.
— David Gaines (@iamdavidgaines) July 24, 2015
I ate about a third of it, and since it’s a burger and two grilled cheese sandwiches, does that mean I ate one entire sandwich? Regardless, I couldn’t finish it.
On the way back to the hotel, I took a different route back. More art, of course.
And every city should have a statue or a monument to Abraham Lincoln.
A popular spot where everyone was taking selfies was this sign. All that art, and everyone wanted a sign that made it clear that they were in Portland. Now that I think of it, I should’ve brought the selfie stick. I see Anthony Bourdain was in town. Wonder if he stopped by The Brunch Box?