Sunday, November 8, 2009

A Few Final Thoughts on Portland

The more I'm in Sacramento, the more I like Portland. It's a prettier place, my skin doesn't dry out so much, and there's more to do. After all, Sacramento's main tourist attractions(!) are the State Capitol and the Railroad Museum. Oh, gee, we could go to San Francisco and ride a cable car and go to Golden Gate Park and Coit Tower--or we could go to the Railroad Museum in Sacramento. Not much of a contest.

Anyway, we noted that the housing in all but the most remote suburbs and a few infill projects is much older than the housing in Sacramento. I wondered why and sent off a request for information from the Sacramento Public Library's AskUs email reference service. My working hypothesis was that Portland had a much larger population much earlier and, consequently, more housing in the early years of the 20th century. The wonderful James at AskUs sent me the population figures and on reading them, I discovered that I was right. While Sacramento now has a population of more than 400,000 souls, the population was only about 80,000 in 1940. In 1940, Portland's population just above 300,000, and it has grown to 529,000 in 2009. Unfortunately I'm perfectly willing to give up crown molding and other evidence of "charm" for adequate plumbing, wiring, and sliders leading from the living room to the garden. (Prior to the 1920s the back yard was the midden, which is why it's off the back porch, with no window out to the yard. Only the servants' quarters looked out on the garbage pile.) I even want a dishwasher, though it means that I will permanently lose another skill, this time the ability to do all the dishes from a dinner party for four at one time, stacking plates, glasses and cooking pots into a single dish drainer.

Today would have been my mother's 80th birthday.

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