Was in Portland Oregon a few weeks ago. Lush greenery overwhelmed me as Spring time had yet to come to Duluth. Right outside our place we were staying gigantic plants and trees covered most ground. Portland is a great world-class city built in a rain forest at that. It rained most days, a gentle rain, no great shakes. We got around one day on public transit with little more than an idea to explore. Trolleys, trains and buses were frequent, clean and reliable. Someone like me who has not grown up with these sort of transit options was totally impressed.
So it is bewildering when I think of the Johnny come lately’s like Minneapolis were I lived and their two transit lines serving less population density along the corridors. The slate has been wiped clean for land speculators and it will be a full ten years before the University corridor fills in. As the Hiawatha line approaches 10 years downtown properties have developed but not as a consequence of this line as it is not a trolley but a train between the Mall of America and downtown Minneapolis. And what of Duluth that is all up the hill and spread out east to west along a lakeside dividing the population as a rivalry of brothers? Minnesota cities have great outdoors opportunities but, are squandering their natural settings with public policy that is 20th century and not 21st century.
People in Portland are packed in. No doubt. And that is the best thing for creating culinary options on a human scale. One of the best food experiences I have ever had been in Portland. It ranks up there with our visit to Italy two years ago. Portland is all about food. The countless food truck courts and the bazillion cafe’s provided fresh well prepared meals. And this included vegan selections for our daughter. We are honestly, starved in Duluth for a meal that is reasonably priced, tasty and served well. And to think food trucks serve delicious, inexpensive food just about anywhere in Portland. Ranking higher than Duluth bar food and the axiom, “you get what you pay for.” Only, expensive is not always better. Fresher is always better! Policy in Minnesota communities have a long way to go before food trucks become competition to brick and mortar. Good public transit won’t happen either when speculators are sitting on properties that need to be freed up for business and housing.