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Friday, September 16, 2005
Some late night ranting about gentrification accompanied by photos of toys
Last week the Oregonian ran a story on Oregon City's attempts to draw "the young and talented," who they hope will help jumpstart their fledgling economy. This got me to thinking about what Portland's stock of creative whipper-snappers have done within its borders over the past few decades.
The rejuvenation (or gentrification if you prefer) of neighborhoods like Alberta, Hawthorne, Belmont, Nob Hill, etc. can be credited at least partially to the city's post-grad artists, entrepreneurs, hipsters, etc. There seems to be a pretty obvious pattern of progression at work in each case.
20-somethings in search of cheap rent are drawn to an area down on its luck. After a few years of watching their bikes get stolen, hip restaurants, clubs and coffee shops follow their lead. What was once twenty blocks of urban blight is suddenly a burgeoning cultural center, drawing money and attention in the process. Eventually, yuppies, investors and developers get wind of the whole thing and swallow up all the real estate they sink their meat hooks into. Any lingering long-term residents, who haven't already been scared away increasing property taxes hit the road. All the hip coffee shops and have their rents jacked up and are replaced by art, leather furniture galleries and Whole Food franchises. Meanwhile, in another neighborhood a new generation of post-grads is hard at work on repeating the process.
All right, enough of that. The original intent here was to simply run some photos of a strange thrift store I ran into during my last visit to Oregon City.
It's probably safe to assume that this place is owned and operated by the city's planning bureau as part of an effort to attract nostalgia-lovin' creative types that just so happen to fall into the 25-34 demographic. Shrewd move. The place seemed to have everything. Vintage Star Wars toys. Gremlin lunch-boxes. Star Trek III Taco Bell glasses. TMNT action figures. ROB robots. Long-lost '80s boardgames like "Mr. Game Show" and that weird Pac-Man board game where players use a plastic version of the title character to gobble up white marbles. There were enough knicknacks in there to fill hundreds of hipster apartments with conversation pieces.
In short, the place was a mecca. It's enough to make me wish I was talented or at least upwardly mobile enough to warrent a move to the eastside.
As the dreams of Oregon City's city council come true, I look forward to reading future stories about its historic storefronts being torn down to make way for condominiums.
Anyway, you can blame Sho for this post. He passed along the article.