Seattleites Guide to PDX

Fact-Checking Portland Stereotypes

Do they really put a bird on it? Yep—check out any boutique in town. But what about the other things Portlandia taught us? And how does it compare to the Emerald City?

Edited by Allison Williams February 1, 2014 Published in the February 2014 issue of Seattle Met

It’s liberal.

True. Portland proper tends to vote blue in national elections—Multnomah County went 75 percent for Obama in 2012, while we in King County were 69 percent. The Libertarian candidate that year got the same percentage in both cities, but the Green Party did better in PDX. But that’s just national politics—when it comes to fluoridating the water, Portland recently rejected the purported tooth saver for the fourth time by popular vote.

It‘s Very White.

True. Though Portland is more overwhelmingly white than Seattle (23.9 percent nonwhite versus Seattle’s 31.5 percent), Portland has a higher percentage of Hispanic or Latino population than Seattle—and more racial diversity than the rest of Oregon





True. Though the cost of living in both Seattle and Portland looms over the national average, our southern neighbors’ cost of living is 15.3 percent lower than ours. Think of it this way—at $230,800, the average cost of a Portland house is just 71 percent of the cost of an average abode here, but Portlanders make 80 percent of our salaries. No fair.



False. Unemployment in both cities sits slightly below the national average. Plus, define “real”—there are Portland Craigslist ads for selfie photographers, cosplay models, and rabbit-sitters! But one sobering thought: More people in Portland live below the poverty level than in Seattle.



False. It may not seem that way when a Portland teenager sporting the beard of a Klondike miner cuts you off on his fixie, but the average age in Seattle and Portland is almost the same—36 years old.


 It’s full of strip clubs. 

True. Compared to Seattle? Yes. Compared to everywhere else? Yep, that too. Portland has the most strip joints per capita, thanks largely to lax regulations on where and what nudie shows can show. Downtown’s most notable is Mary’s Club, which claims a colorful history (Courtney Love once danced there) and oft-photographed marquee.

Everything’s vintage.

True. Well, mostly. It’s been said (by Budget Travel, Thomas Cook Travel, and Portland Monthly) that Portland has the most vintage stores per capita in the U.S. Vintage shopping is upscale in spots like Xtabay (2515 SE Clinton St, 503-230-2899;, a frou-frou boutique with knockout dresses, and Animal Traffic (429 SW 10th Ave, 503-241-5427;, which maintains an extensive Pendleton wool collection


Everyone Bikes or rides public transit.

False. Portland may not have ceded its biking crown—more commuters wheel there than anywhere else—but Seattle is right on its heels. Plus, in PDX, more people walk to work than bike, and 
when it comes to transit, the MAX may be shiny, but many more folks in Seattle (21 percent) commute by transit than in Portland (12 percent)


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