Our deepest anxieties about the future of where we live are embodied in other cities — in Portlandification, Brooklynification, Manhattanization. The comparison is seldom a compliment. You don’t want to become Manhattan (too dense), Portland (too twee) […]
I think Portland’s “twee-ness” is going to be the thing that protects it against the “Manhattnization” or “San Francisco-ization” the article talks about. Tech companies are sprouting up and prices are rising in Portland, but the sleepy, sentimental nature of the city may repel some of the more ambitious tech companies / people that would really hike prices. Young people go to Portland to retire, not to work their asses off or create billion-dollar startups like in Manhattan or the Bay Area. Just look at this journalist’s description of her time in Portland as a recent college grad.
Even the really big companies that do have the power to move housing prices on a larger scale (Nike, Intel) are concentrated in the suburbs where there is enough cheap land to build a big campus. This also makes them much more attractive to middle-aged professionals that want a sizable house and high-powered suburban schools (Jesuit, Beaverton, Sunset).
I may speak too soon, but the quirkiness of Portland (and its relative indolence) has a real economic advantage in that it buys the city some time to figure out how to deal with ballooning housing costs and preserving the middle class.