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Has Portland Become the New San Francisco?

Portland has more push, more volatility, more openness, more potential for change. Plus, it's marginally more affordable for those with alternative lifestyles. Is San Francisco losing its spot as #1 counterculture city?
Has Portland become the new San Francisco? Discuss among yourselves . . .
cool 25.Mar.2004 09:54

tragicly hip


Hawthorne has become the Haight-Ashbury of this decade 25.Mar.2004 10:23


I used to live in SF during the early 70's and visited it during the late 60's. I still visit SF now and then. On a recent trip to SF it seemed the old haunts were populated with people more like Beaverton or Gresham than Portland. It has occured to me before that Portland, especially Hawthorne, is similar to Haight of the hippie era. The PDX scene definately derives from the old SF scene, in some ways it might even be better. The Haight, and SF, were very exciting places to be. I wish I had a time machine to go back for a visit. What killed the SF scene was the over abundant use of drugs, then AIDS. Drugs were so common that even the police could be sometimes seen passing a joint at a concert in the Golden Gate Park. I am not a drug prohibitionist but decades of experience has shown me that they extract a painful toll on individuals and the community. I think young people today who use drugs are more cautious than we were. But they also have many more non-natural options and the pot is WAY stronger. I hope the PDX counter culture scene survives and thrives. It is very cool.

I would like to see one old aspect of the Haight be imported to Portland of today, that is the Golden Gate Park. We have a wonderful park, Mt. Tabor, right above Hawthorne. It could become an excellent outdoor community center with music, bartering, drumming, dancing, and general hanging out.

goddamnit!!! 25.Mar.2004 10:51

is pepsi the new coke?

Sure i'd love to see portland become increasingly open minded and all, but why try and compare it to the old hip scene? I think I side more with tragically hip on this one.....why make a trend out of 'counter culture' or whatever that means. As Mother points out trends fade one way or another. Heh just to entertain this discussion of portland being the'new" 'frisco, wouldn't it be safer to say it's the new seatle? nonono!!! stop right now and ask your self if you want to be a part of a fad. I love portland and all ,but do you want portland to become a tourist attraction that will sell it's self out? pier 39 = saturday market almost literally.

Please 25.Mar.2004 11:36


More affordable - shit, just because our town is more affordable than San Fran (not for long) doesn't mean it's affordable, and if you look at your history Portland has been every bit as open and all that other stuff as any San Fran.

Let's not strive to become like San Fran, hell, let's not even strive...

apples and oranges 25.Mar.2004 11:57

republic of cascadia citizen

portland has nothing to do with san francisco. completely different in many many ways.

portland is the thriving capital of the republic of cascadia, sending shockwaves of radical art, activism, and vision across space and time, in unity with centers of resistance around the planet. i am not overly concerned with what is happening or not happening in san francisco, this is ground zero for me.

on the upper left 25.Mar.2004 12:07


and, never forget, portland.indy is way better than sf.indy...even indybay, but that is a close call.

Oh, GOD -- not SEATTLE! 25.Mar.2004 13:25

Tad's ex-friend William

Take it from a long time Seattle resident -- you don't want to end up like us. Seattle turned into the nation's biggest corporate fuck-fest during the '90s. We didn't use to be this way. You CAN blame Starbucks, Micro$oft, Amazon.com, McCaw, and on and on and on. There's precious left of the "old" Seattle. We've become a pale, self-conscious, self-important imitation of all that went wrong in SF. We're just a more plastic version of plastic.

My Love Affair with Portland 25.Mar.2004 14:04


As a recent transplant from Cali, more south than bay area, I am in love, no smitten, googly-eyed head over heels crazy about this city. I have never-ever-ever seen a city of this size function with so many different perspectives and lifestyles all commingling together. This city has a sense of humor about itself. It is really really great, and thinks it still not good enough. It's citizens are just as passionate and put their money, bodies and hands where their mouths are, in terms of defending their lifestyles. What's better than that?

My neighbor who is in his 80's just writes off the med marijane user next door. The level of tolerance is amazing. If you havn't lived somewhere else recently you may be out of touch with how liberal this city is, in comparison. It's wayyyyy liberal. I'm not a youngster either, so I have a few cities under my belt, but this is the city I want to keep wrapped around me.

Did I mention I love Portland.

Cascadian cities 25.Mar.2004 16:36

Weirdo anarchist

SF is the southern anchor of Cascadia, Eugene & Portland are the pivot, Olympia, Seattle, Vancouver & Victoria the northern extension. Although I haven't lived all those places, I identify with them.

Of course the "counterculture" has plastic elements - Cascadia is still nascent inside the Hegemon. But these elements are just a co-opted, repackaged, marketed, killed form of something that started out genuine and free. Hawthorne is the new Haight Ashbury, and with that comes the bad AND the good.

My father used to live off Haight Ashbury in 1969, and I'm glad to be carrying on, bearing the standard, so to speak, of the beautiful human convergence taking place here. The advantage that we have now is hindsight; and if we use it, maybe we won't make so many mistakes that were made then. Such as playing into the hands of, and becoming, gentrifiers (we have a long way to go on that one, I know), being exploited by those televising and selling the revolution, etc.

The Cascadian revolution will not be conducted by the Cascadian National Party, by the way. They are just a tiny figment of it, a boringly liberal one at that - get in the forests and in the streets!

Striking range of front line in War of the Trees 25.Mar.2004 18:07

Luke from DC

Seems to me one reason people are going to Portland is because it's a hell of a lot better "base camp" for targetting the clearcut-the-Earth philosophy than major East Coast cities. We can do a little in DC by going after government decision makers, but its CORPORATE decision makers that count, and strikes on their operations are a hell of a lot more effective than going after their corporate lobbying office on Kst in DC.

Kudos to all the Forest Warriors of Cascadia!

WTF 25.Mar.2004 20:34

A Local

I've lived here in Portland all my life. I don't know what you folks are on about.

Portland won't be the next San Francisco. It's very decidely Portland, for all its good and bad quirks.

The rapid immigration of folks like you has had good effects (more culture/activity) and bad (higher cost of living). But its the same town.

What my big gripe is that most of you don't fucking know anything about Portland's history, so it HAS to be compared to SF.

Portland has always been very different than any other western city, therefore any other US city. As local author Chuck Palanhuk (sp? "Fight Club) is fond of saying Portland is home of the most cracked of the crack pots. While backhanded, its true and we are the heart of the city and always have been.

Read up if you are actually going to know this city.

Read about the local tribal peoples, the Chinooks in the various manifestations. Who may have been the largest pre-columbian concentration of people north of Mexico. Read about how the tribes forced onto the Grande Ronde were shot or deported to Oklahoma if they left the area to hunt, but not given any food by the Agency.

Learn the local language, Chinook-wawa, a combination of Indian languages, English and French. Spoken by over 100,000 people of all races in 1880s. Its still lingers on in many place names and can be used to describe our experience here. A conference is at PSU May 14th.

Read E. Kimbark McCaull's history of Portland, how the KKK ran it in the 20s against the IWW and Socialists. About the Portland general strike of 1922. Read about the corruption and graft in this city, its being the most "wide open" port on the west coast.

Read Stewart Holbrook, who was the Gonzo journalist of the 1930s-40s, a best selling author, Oregonian columnist and low-brow drinker and subversive. He loved Portland, and all it's crackpottiness.

How Terry Schrunk, Mayor of Portland and father of Multnomah County DA Michael Schrunk, pleaded the 5th amendment in a special investigation of corruption in this fair city. Perhaps a certain DA was sent through college via illegal Porn, prostitution and gambling...

Read about how we organized and stopped the freeway that would have erased SE Clinton St.

Or find out about Vanport and how PSU was started by Vets not willing be be screwed out of an education, segregation and how it was busted, Governor Tom McCall, the best Republican we've ever had. About the Hippie days in Portland, the Housing occupations at PSU in 1970. The HUAC investigation of Reed College in the 50s (before Berkeley!)

About how Beat came from the Northwest via Whalen and Snyder, how Kerouac and Ginsburg creamed for the authenticity of their experience in the NW and their family's history of the IWW.

Listen to the Wipers and understand why Kurt Cobain said the Seattle Sound is actually the Portland Sound.

Look around, talk to old timers, find out WHY Portland became Portland.

Portland is the new Barstow 25.Mar.2004 21:41


Hey, I live and love in Portland.

I like the city a whole hell of a lot, but... Portland is too damned white (like me) and too damned narrow. Sure, you have your progressives, but many of them are of the Nader variety, i.e. Bizarro Republicans with dreds who are largely indifferent to the plight of brown peoples, foreign and domestic, in any real sense, though their t-shirts and bumper stickers would have you believe otherwise.

And Hawthorne is the new Haight?

Fuck the Haight.

Hawthorne is brewpubs and shoeless 19-somethings bong-trolling to make it a Blockbuster night. There is NOTHING political about Hawthorne except the admittedly excellent campaign to keep McDonald's off the street. Portland, as I said, is fantastic in many ways, but it is still mired in provinciality and narcissism.

Taken a Look at Hawthorne lately? 25.Mar.2004 23:27


Hawthorne is losing its hand-made and second hand stores to an orgy of imports of stuffstuffstuff. I lived in the Haight, and I lived on Hawthorne, and Hawthorne is no Haight of the 60s. For one thing, rents were affordable in the '60s, and lots of people lived together. When I lived on Hawthorne I never noticed a toleration of drug use either. Cept alcohol. Unless you were homeless.

looks a lot more affordable to me 25.Mar.2004 23:45


>Plus, it's marginally more affordable for those with alternative lifestyles.

I'm paying less than $200 a month rent for a room now in PDX, and there are obviously abandoned buildings all over my neighborhood. In San Francisco a few years ago you'd be lucky to pay merely ten times as much. From a glance at sf.craigslist, it looks like things are somewhat back to normal down there now, but they could get crazy again if the economy picks up ...

And I can testify from personal experience that in PDX you're much less likely to face housing discrimination for not having a "regular job" than you are right now in, for example, Seattle ...

Interesting Discussion 26.Mar.2004 07:50


...but I like the Portland local's description better. It delves into PDX's history. Also, Hawthorne=Haight/Ashbury, I doubt it. Portland=affordable, maybe in some pockets, but it is becoming out of sight for many. I also agree with one poster above about the lack of diversity. Believe me, I absolutely love Portland, but it has a way to go to get past it's scarred history. Crackpots, well I see that, but also see too many meth addicts, too many poor, too many dysfunctional families. I see a tale of two cities, one for the suburbanites and wealthy down towners and then there are those others who are marginalized and shifted around. All in all, Portland has a unique and dynamic culture, though quirky with enough checks and balances to allow it to be among the most radicalized cities in the country. It's just those dang city beaurocrats that screw things up. :)

Never mind Hawthorne, hello Belmont, Mississippi, Alberta, Division 26.Mar.2004 10:00

West coaster

It depends on what SF you are talking about, San Francisco since about 1985 has been a yuppie-first enclave. The glorified Haight is nothing more than a shlocky tourist stop for suburban "hipsters". (Watch out Hawthorne).
The Mission neighborhood is a more likely spot to find the real people, although most of the real people have been priced out of the city.
The east bay is now the center of what SF used to be in the 60's and 70's. Oakland, Berkeley.
Portland is not totally yupified yet, but people need to stay on top the situation, the Four Corners/Starbucks battle comes to mind.
If not, Portland will indeed become another SF/Seattle, a rich vs.poor 'burg.

I grew up here, and then lived in SF for 21 years, and then moved back here.

another local here 26.Mar.2004 10:18

Mister memorex

Like "A Local" I am a lifelong Portland resident, and I share some of the mixed feelings the poster has concerning transplants. I greatly benefit from the cultural enhancements, yet I feel a bit out of place in my own city because of it, to the point where I get asked where I'm from, as if all the locals are hanging out in Karaoke bars in east county or waiting in line at some Krispy Kreme opening. I may work a blue collar union job, and have lived in my comfort zone all my life, so what do I know, but I give credit where credit's due. It's the 25-35 over-educated under-employed East-coast types who are making portland what it is, just as my grandparents who moved here in the 1940s did in their own way. And so far, I like it.

Cascadia! 27.Mar.2004 08:41

a time whose name has come, or something

"Oregon Country," "Pacific Northwest," "Cascadia."

er, why? a new name is a revolution?

take yer lithium!

what does anybody hope to accomplish even IF they can get everybody to call this same already-well-known region by yet another new made-up white-settler name?