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Pittock Mansion‘s tagline is “Every house tells a story.This one tells Portland’s.” Sure, it’s a story told from the perspective of a wealthy founding family, but that doesn’t make it any less valuable.Today, the West Coast’s long-running tech boom is transforming Portland into a vibrant back office for big Seattle and Silicon Valley companies.There’s also evidence it’s emerging as a startup hub in its own right, as increasingly aggressive angel investors and venture capitalists seek opportunities outside larger West Coast markets. Like Seattle, Portland’s population is swelling with transplants from other parts of the country and world – notably California, which has been sending economic refugees north for years.Instead of a self-contained block, this space is an irregularly shaped collection of thematic settings: a bonsai display, a meticulously arranged riverine landscape, and a perfectly pruned shrub garden. It contains a host of native and nonnative species – more than 2,000 in all, many of which are marked with helpful Latin and English placards.Highlights include a towering redwood grove – my personal favorite – and a recently installed bamboo forest that seeks to dispel myths about this invasive-yet-sustainable species.Despite rapidly rising rents in core neighborhoods, Portland is also not outrageously expensive to visit, as long as you don’t mind scouting out Airbnb rentals or staying in one of the dozens of unpretentious motels within the city limits.Portland’s plentiful food trucks, cafes, and breweries make for cheap refueling.
It’s all the more remarkable for what happened after the Pittocks left: In 1962, a violent storm seriously damaged the then-vacant house, exposing its interior to the elements for 18 months and requiring a marathon 15-month restoration project. Calling Powell’s a bookstore is like calling the Louvre an art museum: technically accurate, but wildly understated.
And, perhaps most importantly, Oregon is one of the few states with no sales tax.
Depending on what you’re used to in your hometown, this alone could cut anywhere from 5% to 10% off the cost of your discretionary spending here.
The attractions and points of interest that I didn’t have time to visit have been thoroughly researched (again, thanks in part to Travel Portland) and won’t blow a hole through your travel budget.
Portland won’t celebrate its 200th birthday until 2045, but that doesn’t mean it’s a historical blank slate.