What’s So Weird About Portland?

What’s So Weird About Portland?

When we first arrived in Portland Oregon, we were a bit confused by all of the KEEP PORTLAND WEIRD slogans plastered everywhere. We could have sworn that Austin, TX, was considered the “weird” city. 

Later on, we learned we were right, Austin was the first city known to be weird. It wasn’t until 2003 that Portland became known as the “weird” city aswell.

From what we understand, Portland straight up stole the idea from Austin, TX. When Music Millennium owner, Terry Currier learned about Austins “weird” movement he decided to bring the slogan to Portland to support local businesses. When doing so, he got the phrase trademarked and sold a buttload of stickers with the slogan. Brilliant!

But is Portland weird?

I guess that would depend on what you consider weird. The city does have a unique vibe and a few strange destination points.  Although, I’m not sure, “weird,” is the best word to use to describe this city.

What Is So Weird About Portland?

1) Worlds Smallest Park

At about 2 feet in diameter, this park would be a better fit for an ant rather than a human. There’s no slide, no swings, no monkey bars, nothing! It’s a patch of grass located in a median strip of SW Naito Parkway. 

It was intended for the placement of a traffic sign but ended up not being used and becoming a garbage collecter filled with weeds.

When Dick Fagan noticed what was happening, he decided to take matters into his own hands and proceeded to clean out the garbage and weeds to replace them with plants.

And there you have it Mill End park. 

2) Weather Machine

We’ve decided that the weather machine isn’t weird, it’s cool. It’s a spinning contraption located downtown that tells the weather by producing a symbolic icon once each day with the sound of a trumpet going off. While we were there, we saw a big cartoon-like sun at the top which told us it was going to be a sunny day.

3) The Zoo Bomb

I looked into this event that happens every Sunday after stumbling upon a pile of tiny bikes tied to a pole. Mackenzie wanted to know why they were there. It turns out there’s a Portland tradition called the Zoobomb where everyone takes their tiny bikes on the MAX Light Rail to Washington Park and then to the top of the West Hills near the zoo to speed back down. 

Sounds kind of fun!

4) The Naked Bike Ride

If you thought that riding tiny bikes was weird, I’m curious what you’ll think of the naked bike ride. 

I’m confused by this, but above is a video explaining this weird event. 

I’ve also listed what the world naked bike ride wiki page lists for the reasons behind the bike ride below.

  • Save the planet! Shifting to a carfree lifestyle is one of the most powerful things a person can do to make a real difference in reducing negative environmental impacts on this planet.
“Our message to the world is one of simplification, human harmony and love. For a future to exist for tomorrows generations, we have to stop wasting the life blood energy of the Earth, stop fighting and killing in the name of consumerist wealth accumulation and learn to love and respect all life on this planet.” – Conrad Schmidt, founder of The Work Less Party and Artists for Peace and WNBR and organizer for WNBR Vancouver, BC
  • It’s time to put a stop to the indecent exposure of people and the planet to cars and the pollution they create. We face automobile traffic with our naked bodies as the best way of defending our dignity and exposing the vulnerability faced by cyclists and pedestrians on our streets as well as the negative consequences we all face due to dependence on oil, and other forms of non-renewable energy.
  • Body image/self awareness. Cycling promotes body awareness, the fact that one can achieve a more healthy lifestyle from the exercise we achive by using self-powered transport
  • Self-sufficiency. Cycling makes us non-renewable energy sources, less dependent oil
  • Think Globally, Act locally. Cycling promotes local cycling businesses and local cycling organizations.
  • Less is more. WNBR strips the complexities from modern transport to a simplified message of cycling. For the vast majority of most peoples’ transport needs, cycles are the right vehicle for the right job. “You don’t need a wheelbarrow to carry a pea”.
  • The unabashed vehicle of the revolution. By cycling naked we declare our confidence in the beauty and individuality of our bodies and the bicycles’s place as a catalyst for change in the future of sustainability, transport, community and recreation.
“Unless we change direction, we are likely to end up where we are heading.”
  • Community-building. Bicycles create public space, enhance street life and build a sense of community
“If you see someone you know while riding, it’s easy to stop and say hello. Bicycles create public space, enhance street life and build a sense of community”– Go By Bicycle
  • Peace of mind. “People are looking for places where they’re not constantly being confronted with cars. It’s just like non-smokers seeking smoke-free space.” – Franziska Eichstaedt-Bohlig, German Green Party

5) Most Vegan Strip Clubs

I know crazy right? There are even vegan strip clubs. Who knew. I will say that it’s reasons similar to this that we don’t consider ourself a vegan family. We don’t eat meat, dairy and avoid purchasing things like leather and wool but there are certain things we do that some wouldn’t consider us vegan.

No, it’s no hanging out at non-vegan strip clubs. : )  

6) Voodoo Donuts

We first discovered Voodoo Donuts in Austin, TX, but this hip donut shop started in Portland, OR when two friends realized there weren’t any shops downtown.

The fact that they had never made a donut a day in their life didn’t seem to stop them from creating this bright pink shop filled with the weirdest donuts you’ve seen, like a voodoo shaped doll filled with jelly and a pretzel sticking out of him.

They said that when they took baking lessons before opening the shop, their teacher told them the key to their success is to not offer to much of a variety. They agreed but decided that the ones that they did offer would be “weird” and placed into a bright colored box to stand out. 

7) Deans Scene

Dean= Guy who brews beer

Deans Scene=The basement of his house

What Happens At The Scene? He serves his brewed beer.

How Much? Dean asks for a $5 donation which allows you to drink as much beer you see fit, based upon that donation. This is how he gets around not having a liquor license. 

The Horse Project

Random tiny horses placed throughout the city for you to locate.

I wish I would have known about this one before we left the area! The kids would have loved keeping a lookout for them.

Paul Bunyon

That’s it, a random huge Paul Bunyon statue. 

Do you know of any other weird things located in Portland? 

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