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Old 06-02-2007, 04:53 PM
561 posts, read 1,006,354 times
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I've lived in Seattle for about 8 years and have several friends in Portland, so I'm familiar with both cities. At the risk of seeming overly-knowledgable, most people familiar with both places would sum the diffierences/similarities thusly:

Climate: The differences are pretty negligeable. Portland is a little further inland so it's slightly warmer in the summer, slightly cooler in winter, but the difference is usually only about 10 degrees or less. Precipitation is about the same - and while it's mostly overcast 8 mos/year, it's mostly drizzle.

Geography: Seattle is a more aesthetically attractive - lots of water, mountains on both sides, beautiful views. It's also very hilly, which creates more transportation problems (see below). That's not to say Portland's geography is bad (rivers, forests), it's just not as stunning as Seattle.

Politics: Both cities are very liberal overall, and like many cities the suburbs tend to be more conservative. In Seattle, the conservatives tend to be more pro-business economic conservatives. I've heard that Portland area conservatives tend to be more 'red neck'/racist conseratives. This is consistent with the differing attitudes of growth - Portland has more strict growth/planning policies. Consequently Portland has remained smaller, and in my opinion more livable, while Seattle typically has a better job market (though that's changing).

Portland seems to have more expedient/efficient politics. For instance - Portland established it's first line of light-rail in the early 90s (before major growth took off), while Seattle's first line is still under construction. Likewise, Portland has better growth/urban planning, where as Seattle really hasn't had any planning (Seattle has much more malignant urban sprawl).

People/Social atmosphere: Seattle feels like (and is) more of a big city. It's larger, more hectic, with more amenties. Portland has a smaller feel - more of a town than a city. It's been my experience that Portlanders tend to be more outgoing, while Seattlites tend to keep to themselves. Over the last decade Seattle has gentrified/yuppified, dominated more by white-collar professionals. To some extent this has happened in Portland as well, but not to the same extent and Portland still has a more relaxed, working class feel to it than Seattle.

Preference ?: This is a more subjective, but overall I prefer Portland because it's more livable and relaxed. To some extent, it depends what you're looking for. Seattle has become a more professional/career-oriented city, consequently it's lost much of it's distinctive, laid-back feel that once made the city more appealing and livable. While I still like Seattle, over the last several years it's becoming more and more of a generic big-city; the gorgeous geography is one of the few thing that distinguishes it.

Even though Portland is wrestling with many of growth issues as well, it's growth is more well-planned. Even with the growth, Portland has been able to maintain a more distinct, relaxed atmosphere that makes it so appealing. And since Portland has better growth management and is more efficient at completing public projects (esp transportation), I'm more optimistic about the future for Portland than I am in Seattle.

So to me it boils down to materialism vs livability: Seattle is a more concerned with being a 'world-class'/professionally-oriented big city, while Portland focus is more on quality of life. To me, work has always been something I do out of necessity, not because I want to, so Portland is more appeling to me. More career-oriented persons might prefer Seattle.
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Old 06-07-2007, 09:13 PM
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Very good comparison Apathizer!!!

Both cities are nearly identical with "slight exclusions" and both have unfortunately experienced the "yuppy craze" and as a result cost of living has shot through the roof. Still, Portland remains a far more cost effective alternative than its counterpart.
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Old 08-14-2007, 07:53 PM
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Default Seattle = Professional and World Class

When asked about the big differences between the Seattle area and the Portland area, my only point to make is about economics. Seattle has a pro-developer/ pro-business/ pro-trade culture that thrives and from this has more finer hospitals, schools, infrastructure, economy and a much more robust technology base. Seattle has one major R&D school (UW) and plenty of private money for investments and to keep things liquid. Seattle has world-class suburbs (Bellevue) that are far nicer than most citie's 'burbs. Seattle's political climate is a little mixed, but they are overall not too carried away.

Portland, on the other hand, is quite liberal, sort of backwater and a socialist town. The mayor used to be the Chief of police and kicked out Homeland Security because he felt inclined to know all of the FBI's case. If anybody is socialist, it's the freakin' mayor. Portland loses businesses to Seattle, Denver, Boise and Cali regularly and has nothing as far as top-schools/ R&D is concerned. Portland has an Urban Growth Boundary that severely limits the flow of commerce, so if you're a Marxist, you will love this meth-infested podunk lil backwater bohemian village.
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Old 08-14-2007, 08:26 PM
Location: Tampa Bay
1,020 posts, read 3,020,041 times
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Seattle is extremely expensive.
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Old 08-14-2007, 08:58 PM
Location: Denver
692 posts, read 2,377,018 times
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When I'm in Seattle I get T.M.F.I.D
Too much frigen import disorder.
I just hate to see the miles of cargo containers with Asian
writing lined and stacked up down by the ports. (sigh)
On the other hand whoever thought up the giant troll
sculpture under the 36th street bridge is a genius. (uber cool)

Yeah Portland proper can be freaky, but it's not all bad.
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Old 08-14-2007, 10:01 PM
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The only major difference between Seattle and Portland are the size. Portland is basically a smaller version of Seattle (much like how San Diego is a smaller version of L.A.). Since they are both in the same region, they both have the same climate and same type of terrain. I must say, the PNW is my favorite region of the country! Nothing beats the landscape of snow-capped mountains and tall evergreen trees everywhere. Seattle, being the more populated city, has more of an urban atmosphere, while Portland has a laid-back, small town feel. As other posters mentioned before, Seattle has a more diverse population. Portland is also a descent place for Asians, especially Japanese. At one time, PDX was a hub or focus area for Delta Airlines for connecting flights to Asian cities such as Tokyo, Seoul, Taipei, etc. Now it's more of a hub for Alaska Airlines. Both cities are generally liberal, and they are both ranked among the cities with the lowest crime rates.
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Old 08-14-2007, 10:04 PM
Location: Colorado Springs,CO
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I like Seattle's skyline,and Portland doesn't really have that great of a skyline.
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Old 08-14-2007, 10:38 PM
1,604 posts, read 3,425,428 times
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From reading these posts so far, it seems that the PNW seems to fit me the most. Nice scenery, great political atmosphere (socialist, libertarian-liberal), and decent weather (at least better than where I live). The only question is how a college educated, single black dude would be treated there by other races, particularly by non-black women in the PNW?. So far, it seems like it would be much better than most parts of the US. And coming across the recent California posts, I'm getting really uncertain about the "liberalness" of that state. Sorry for the question, but it seems that many black females avoid educated black dudes at all costs for gangsters and criminals, and I'm not trying to be single forever.
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Old 08-14-2007, 11:27 PM
Location: Denver
692 posts, read 2,377,018 times
Reputation: 364
Dude I've come to find any area that's really white tends not to be as liberal
as they say they are. Having said that I have seen about every combo
there is in Portend. Probably a better place to be gay than anything else.
People have pretty much ignored my Mexican wife (small minded folk-
their loss) as much as I love this area, I love my wife more. If she does not connect over the next year we'll be moving up to Seattle where she has family. IMHO the area is more prejudiced than when I lived in either Chicago
or San Marcos.
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Old 08-14-2007, 11:45 PM
Location: Foot of the Rockies
85,077 posts, read 99,122,332 times
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Here is City-Data's breakdown of the races:

Races in Seattle:

White Non-Hispanic (67.9%)
Black (8.4%)
Hispanic (5.3%)
Two or more races (4.5%)
Chinese (3.4%)
Filipino (2.8%)
Other race (2.4%)
Vietnamese (2.1%)
American Indian (2.1%)
Other Asian (1.8%)
Japanese (1.6%)
Korean (0.9%)
Asian Indian (0.5%)

Races in Portland:

White Non-Hispanic (75.5%)
Hispanic (6.8%)
Black (6.6%)
Two or more races (4.1%)
Other race (3.5%)
American Indian (2.3%)
Vietnamese (2.0%)
Chinese (1.4%)
Other Asian (1.3%)
Filipino (0.5%)
Japanese (0.5%)

So Portland is "whiter".
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