National Geographic : 2003 Sep
PORTLAND, OREGO At the hills' feet on the "flats" are the stores, mostly small, all pedestrian friendly. Early developers made blocks with diminutive 200-foot sides in order to sell more corner lots, and thus unwittingly created an intimate, village-like atmosphere. Motorists make eye con tact and smile. Restaurants and cafes line the streets. Frequent drizzle makes Portland quintessential double-latte country; Caffe Fresco will even scramble your eggs with espresso-machine steam. Such places employ a species called baristas-enthusiastic,body-pierced youth who need jobs when not out hiking or snowboarding. Beyond this lies the riverfront industrial district. One afternoon down there I glimpsed a ragged, long-haired figure with a mountain bike, dig ging copper piping from a trash bin. He was Dave Reinhardt, and he lived under a bridge by the river. At a friendly scrap dealer he got $13.69 for his day's load. "Portland is great," said Dave. "The world is screwed up." On my last morning I escaped back to Forest Park. A few hundred yards above Aspen Avenue, English ivy gave way to native Oregon grape, sword fern, towering Douglas fir, mossy-trunked vine maple. It was quiet. Rain pattered briefly. Sunbeams appeared. A spider web brushed my head. Songbirds flitted branch to branch. Then: a great, distant ship's horn, like a one-note aria. Through the S"-'-' I trees somewhere below, children laughed. Maybe it was once this good. 01 Caf6 hands, known as baristas, let off steam at Java Vivace. "There's a coffee shop for you In Portland, no matter who you are," says Alla Aruta (above, at left). Mara thoners get a caffeine-free boost from spectators along their route. Says Sherry Under (below, third from right), "People support this community ina huge way." Find more 97210 images along with field notes and resources at nationalgeo graphic.com/ngm/0309. Tell us why we should cover YOUR FAVORITE ZIP CODE at nationalgeographic .com/ngm/zipcode/0309.