Downtown Portland: The Sequel

 

What a crying shame.

I know what Portland used to look like, I’ve either visited or lived there since 1961.  Decades ago, I courted my future wife Marie by driving us up to Portland from the University of Oregon in Eugene, where we were students. I drove up because Portland was a big city, a place to gawk, window shop, and eat at fancy restaurants.

Forty-some years later, we lived downtown next to the Willamette River.  We took an hour walk every morning: first, a stroll north on the Riverwalk with other walkers, then farther north and over to the Pearl where the swells live, then down past Powell’s bookstore, then farther down past the Museum and into Safeway, where we’d often pick up something for dinner, and finally across town to our condo.  That morning walk we took every day in Portland probably wasn’t quite as good as that first morning walk that Adam took in his brand new green world — but close.  I loved those walks.

That was then.

Portland is now a dirty place, almost devoid of window-shoppers and families visiting the big city. Macy’s on Courthouse Square packed up and left a few years ago, its handsome terra cotta facade now cowering behind sheets of plywood. At least thirty percent of the stores in the downtown core have closed, most of them since the George Floyd episode.  In a recent poll, over sixty percent of even the downtown business owners said the city core was no longer safe.

The remaining open stores sometimes leave messages that, in effect, say, “I’m one of you. Please don’t break my windows.  Don’t hurt me.”  Here’s one such store (see right) owned by some poor schmuck of an optician who painted his window to cow-tow to the vandals.  (I shouldn’t have called him a schmuck.  He’s just a guy who wanted to protect his property and livelihood and was willing to bend over a bit to do it.)

The Apple store’s facade (see below) of huge windows tell us that they never anticipated roving vandals out every night looking for things to burn and break.  In May of 2020, the store was looted and heavily vandalized. Apple had to completely rebuild a significant portion of the costly storefront. They then got serious about protecting their store. It’s now behind two barriers.  The other day,  I think I saw a little arrow pointing to a small opening where you might enter to talk to an employee, perhaps even buy an iPhone — if you have a reservation.

The vandals, frustrated by Apple’s two barriers that prevent them from breaking the windows, recently tried to burn down the store by setting a fire in a construction site adjacent to the store.

The nearby Nike store was broken into and looted. Here’s what Nike’s once handsome entryway now looks like.

It’s hard to tell just what to make of these roving gangs.  Almost all are white, young, and male. They holler leftist slogans and taunt the police. They break windows and set fires. Sometimes they leave behind the anarchist’s symbol scrawled on the side of a building.  They are decidedly not what the Left wants them to be: “white nationalists.” They are kids of the left.

Actually, the nightly roving gangs may call themselves BLM, Antifa, or anarchists to lend some significance to their nightly smash and grabs, but I have little doubt that they are merely your run-of-the-mill sociopaths, the jerks and losers of our society, emboldened to break and burn by Ted Wheeler, Portland’s left-wing mayor who lacks a backbone, and the city council members who seem to think that breaking windows is just another form of protesting.  (In the past few weeks, the mayor has belatedly concluded that the destruction of the city might not be a good idea. This after more than a year of almost nightly destruction.  At one point Portland was plagued by fires, broken windows, and looting for one hundred straight nights.) Even if arrested, the sociopaths know that they’ll be released within hours or the next morning.

Being a church won’t even save you; here’s a guy replacing the window of the First Christian Church (note the pathetic BLM sign in the window).  That will get you nowhere with sociopathic vandals whose only goals are chaos and destruction.

Starbucks ’ windows have an almost magnetic attraction to Portland’s sociopaths. Below is a familiar sight:  a large window of a Starbucks that is being replaced at a cost of a thousand dollars or so.  Throwing a stone in the middle of the night at a thousand-dollar window is an easy and cheap way for a kid who lives in his mama’s basement to make himself feel important.

Graffiti is now defacing a once pristine city.  It’s especially thick around the homeless camps on the sides of the freeway, I5, that goes through Portland.  But the vandals have also tagged a number of buildings within the downtown core.  The Portland Historical Society building, its windows broken, was graffitied with “No More History.”

There’s nothing like graffiti to make people uncomfortable.  For one thing, it tells visitors that the city big shots have lost control and now they won’t even try to clean up the city.

The homeless camps have been cleared out in the central core, but all around Portland, in alcoves and niches, down city streets outside the core, on the sides of the freeway that cuts through Portland, homeless men and women make their camps — and of course, leave piles of trash behind.  Some streets just outside the core have tents from corner to corner, as you see here.

There are places along the freeway that trash, including feces and toilet paper, of course, literally flows down the sides of the banks on either side of I5. And the concrete barrier along the freeway, which was once clear, is now filled with ugly graffiti.

My wife tells me that her women friends have told her that they never go downtown anymore. It doesn’t look safe.  The city is now a place to avoid.

A city used to be a special place.  When I was a kid living near the LA Coliseum, my dad would drive the family downtown at Christmas so that we could shop and look at the Christmas animations in the Bullocks and May Company department store windows.  We would top off our visit by eating at Clifton’s Cafeteria, whose interior was filled with trees and a rock grotto.  Later, as a young man, I and a few buddies would occasionally go to a burlesque house on Main Street — I think it was called the Follies — to hoot and holler. Despite being in a dicey section of LA with a few bums looking for handouts, it was still a relatively clean and safe place to be.  Cities were places of delight and wonder.  Now too many are places of despair and fear.

Portland is now down and out, like one of its drifters. It’s going to be a long and difficult slog for Portland to get up off its back, clean itself up, do the hard things that need to be done, and return to respectability.  I’m not sure that is possible as long as the city is under a Democratic administration.

What a crying shame.  I knew Portland when.

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  1. JosePluma Thatcher
    JosePluma
    @JosePluma

    KentForrester:

    The nearby Nike store was broken into and looted. Here’s what Nike’s once handsome entryway now looks like. 

    Good.  All who profit from slavery should have the same fate.

    • #1
  2. JosePluma Thatcher
    JosePluma
    @JosePluma

    Your post and mine are an interesting juxtaposition.  Leftist policies result in garbage and litter.

    • #2
  3. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    I’m so sorry, Kent. It must be so sad to watch a place, for which you had affection and appreciation, so badly defaced and damaged. 

    • #3
  4. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    What a shame . . .

    • #4
  5. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    Very sad and it makes me angry. Ken – when did you start to see things change? Was it after George Floyd or several years before that? These young white kids have been taught the same Marxist crap as the kids of color, and it is changing our culture for the worst. They won’t stay young forever and will still have nothing – and garbage to look at like you. When a state’s leadership allows this, it is also sociopathic, and sick.  It could all be cleaned up in day, as Trump would say, but they have to ask for help.

    Liberal drug laws, unaffordable housing, reducing law enforcement – all these elements would put it all back the next day. They don’t want to deal with people – just let them rot while they do what as local officials?  Instead of reciting fairy tales to children, you and others have new stories that start ‘once upon a time’…..

    • #5
  6. Hang On Member
    Hang On
    @HangOn

    Elect fools and pay the price. It’s as simple as that. Vote with your feet 

    • #6
  7. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Hang On (View Comment):

    Elect fools and pay the price. It’s as simple as that. Vote with your feet

    I have to agree.  Many people would love to stay and fight, but sometimes the odds are stacked so much against you, there’s no point . . .

    • #7
  8. Dr. Bastiat Member
    Dr. Bastiat
    @drbastiat

    Thanks so much for a fascinating post.  I appreciate the first-hand account of what is happening.

    Strange that these pictures aren’t on CNN every night…

    • #8
  9. KentForrester Moderator
    KentForrester
    @KentForrester

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    I’m so sorry, Kent. It must be so sad to watch a place, for which you had affection and appreciation, so badly defaced and damaged.

    Susan, I would never have believed if I hadn’t seen it firsthand. 

    • #9
  10. KentForrester Moderator
    KentForrester
    @KentForrester

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Thanks so much for a fascinating post. I appreciate the first-hand account of what is happening.

    Strange that these pictures aren’t on CNN every night…

    Doc, it’s one of the great under-reported stories of this era. I think I know why:  Those who are doing the trashing of our cities are political allies of the MSM. Both see the world from a leftist slant.  So the MSM tends to overlook or rationalize the destruction. 

    • #10
  11. KentForrester Moderator
    KentForrester
    @KentForrester

    Front Seat Cat (View Comment):

    Very sad and it makes me angry. Ken – when did you start to see things change? Was it after George Floyd or several years before that? These young white kids have been taught the same Marxist crap as the kids of color, and it is changing our culture for the worst. They won’t stay young forever and will still have nothing – and garbage to look at like you. When a state’s leadership allows this, it is also sociopathic, and sick. It could all be cleaned up in day, as Trump would say, but they have to ask for help.

    Liberal drug laws, unaffordable housing, reducing law enforcement – all these elements would put it all back the next day. They don’t want to deal with people – just let them rot while they do what as local officials? Instead of reciting fairy tales to children, you and others have new stories that start ‘once upon a time’…..

    Ms. Cat, I think it could have been stopped dead in its tracks early on.  It would have taken a backbone, though, which our city bosses lack. 

    • #11
  12. DonG (2+2=5. Say it!) Coolidge
    DonG (2+2=5. Say it!)
    @DonG

    KentForrester: Throwing a stone in the middle of the night at a thousand dollar window is an easy and cheap way for a kid who lives in his mama’s basement to make himself feel important. 

    I wonder if there are signs of business/architects accepting this reality.  Are panes of glass being replaced with thick (bulletproof) plastic?  Is anyone using panes of stainless steel?   I would not replace glass twice. 

    It is easier for youths to destroy than to create.  That is why civilizing people and raising the bar is important.   In Portland the expectation for behavior is very low and that is a cultural problem.  (Some) Humans will behave as poorly as they can get away with.

    • #12
  13. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    This is what the majority of the voters of Portland voted for. They will keep voting for it. This is what they have asked for, over and over and over again. 

    Anyone not voting for these loons can only run away. The people around them will never change how they vote no batter how bad it gets. 

    THis is how they are:

     

    • #13
  14. Captain French Moderator
    Captain French
    @AlFrench

    More, from the “progressives eating their own” angle.

    • #14
  15. Ekosj Member
    Ekosj
    @Ekosj

    Hi Kent.    We visited several times a few years ago.   The homeless problem was evident even then.   At the time I worked in NYC … downtown Brooklyn … and rode the subways every day.   I had never encountered aggressive, combative, blatantly unstable homeless people like we found in Portland.    
    The following is from 2017:

    https://www.educationviews.org/portlands-disgraceful-anarchy/

    • #15
  16. Skyler Coolidge
    Skyler
    @Skyler

    Austin is hot on Portland’s heels in its degeneration.  We have a vote to restore the ban on camping on Saturday. We shall see what happens.

    • #16
  17. CACrabtree Coolidge
    CACrabtree
    @CACrabtree

    Good Lord, those photos are a perfect representation of what happens when elected officials completely capitulate to anarchy.  

    Coming soon to a city near you…

    • #17
  18. Skyler Coolidge
    Skyler
    @Skyler

    CACrabtree (View Comment):

    Good Lord, those photos are a perfect representation of what happens when elected officials completely capitulate to anarchy.

    Coming soon to a city near you…

    They didn’t capitulate; the politicians caused the anarchy.  This was an intended result, it was not just an accident.

    • #18
  19. CACrabtree Coolidge
    CACrabtree
    @CACrabtree

    Skyler (View Comment):

    CACrabtree (View Comment):

    Good Lord, those photos are a perfect representation of what happens when elected officials completely capitulate to anarchy.

    Coming soon to a city near you…

    They didn’t capitulate; the politicians caused the anarchy. This was an intended result, it was not just an accident.

    Possibly but many of the politicians are cowards who are deathly afraid of running afoul of the woke mob.  The result is the same.

    • #19
  20. Ekosj Member
    Ekosj
    @Ekosj

    The last time the lovely Mrs E and I were in NYC was Feb 2020 … just pre-Pandemic.   Penn Station – which was always a little sketchy – had caught up to Portland.    Homeless people laying head to foot along every hallway.   Open drug use.    It was worse than I had ever seen it.   And I’ve been on the subways since Bernie Goetz.   That’s Bill DiBlasio’s NY.

    • #20
  21. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    Skyler (View Comment):

    CACrabtree (View Comment):

    Good Lord, those photos are a perfect representation of what happens when elected officials completely capitulate to anarchy.

    Coming soon to a city near you…

    They didn’t capitulate; the politicians caused the anarchy. This was an intended result, it was not just an accident.

    I was thinking that too, along with this orchestrated labor shortage due to constantly renewing the extra $300 a week in unemployment and food stamps.  There are restaurants, businesses and even a couple gas stations here that can’t open because of no help – there are signs everywhere.  Where did everyone go?  It’s part of a plan – the whole police defunding – all of it – 

    • #21
  22. navyjag Coolidge
    navyjag
    @navyjag

    Remember lots of time in the Powell’s bookstore and the great restaurants. Went through Portland on the way to visit our son in Seattle. Both off my bucket list for now. Sounds like Austin also headed that way. What a shame.  3 years ago thought it was the coolest city we had seen with the music and BBQ.  

    • #22
  23. Dr. Bastiat Member
    Dr. Bastiat
    @drbastiat

    navyjag (View Comment):

    Remember lots of time in the Powell’s bookstore and the great restaurants. Went through Portland on the way to visit our son in Seattle. Both off my bucket list for now. Sounds like Austin also headed that way. What a shame. 3 years ago thought it was the coolest city we had seen with the music and BBQ.

    Austin was a really cool city.

    Until California moved in.

    • #23
  24. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    CACrabtree (View Comment):
    Coming soon to a city near you…

    We’ll just sic Gov. DeSantis on ’em!

    • #24
  25. Charlotte Member
    Charlotte
    @Charlotte

    😢

    • #25
  26. tigerlily Member
    tigerlily
    @tigerlily

    Nice post Kent. Thanks for the first person account of the self-inflicted destruction of Portland.

    • #26
  27. Buckpasser Member
    Buckpasser
    @Buckpasser

    Unfortunately, the entire west coast is starting to look like this.  My wife and I moved to San Diego after college (1978).  It was a beautiful place then.  We were in Carlsbad (North San Diego County) close to the beach until last year when we moved to Florida.  The homelessness, the crime and the Newsom was getting to be San Francisco South.  Besides,  we needed to be somewhere that the grand kids could feel safe.

    • #27
  28. Goldwaterwoman Thatcher
    Goldwaterwoman
    @goldwaterwoman

    KentForrester: Portland is now down and out, like one of its drifters. It’s going to be a long and difficult slog for Portland to get up off its back, clean itself up, do the hard things that need to be done, and return to respectability.  I’m not sure that is possible as long as the city is under a Democratic administration.

    Your words can describe easily the situation in Seattle.  Our troubles really started about 30 years ago when the city council voted to provide a needle exchange at 3rd and Pine in downtown, a policy meant to prevent the spread of Aids by furnishing addicts with clean needles. Not long after, businesses downtown recorded more robberies as well as a growing influx of of undesirable people who surround the drug trade. 

    I have a theory that our problems worsened during the Obama regime as he relaxed welfare policies which enabled more and more people to claim disability insurance.  The homeless people in our cities are not without financial resources as one can plainly see as prostitutes and drug traffickers –who are paid in cash–  flock to tent encampments. It’s quite the conundrum, especially for cities governed by liberal politicians in search of utopia with funds provided by a constituency content to look the other way.

    • #28
  29. Quinnie Member
    Quinnie
    @Quinnie

    I sympathize with your plight.  My city of Louisville has experienced the same fate after the never ending protesting/rioting related to Breonna Taylor’s death.   The city has been set back at least a decade.    Crime and murders have skyrocketed.  The downtown is no longer a pleasant or inviting place.  

    • #29
  30. Skyler Coolidge
    Skyler
    @Skyler

    Quinnie (View Comment):

    I sympathize with your plight. My city of Louisville has experienced the same fate after the never ending protesting/rioting related to Breonna Taylor’s death. The city has been set back at least a decade. Crime and murders have skyrocketed. The downtown is no longer a pleasant or inviting place.

    Milton said of Satan that it was “Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven.”  That goes double for communists, who create hell in order to reign.

    • #30