12 Signs from Portland

Posted on
Feb 23, 2012
Posted in: Photos, Top Ten

Rand and I are heading to Portland soon. We haven’t been there since the end of last summer, when we stopped for a night on our way down to Ashland.

I’m thrilled to be going back. I love Portland. It’s this wonderful combination of beauty and grit, of art and industry. And perhaps nothing captures that better than the signs and marquis that dot the city. They’re everywhere: some spray painted, some neon. They denote all manner of businesses, from book stores to strip clubs, upscale restaurants to homeless shelters.

The last time that I was in Portland, between the light of a late summer sun and the magic of neon gas, the city positively glowed. Here are a dozen photos from that afternoon, when I roamed the city with my beloved, and marveled at its dingy loveliness.

  1. The Golden Dragon Exotic Club. From what I’ve heard, you shouldn’t bother going in. And for the love of Pete, don’t eat there.
  2.  Keep Portland Weird sign, 3rd Street between Burnside and Ankeny.

    Unofficial city motto.

  3. Portland Outdoor Store, at the corner of SW 3rd Ave, and SW Oak Street.
  4. VooDoo Doughnut. I personally find them gimmicky and overrated. But you can’t fault a place too much when they have the following tagline: “The magic is in the hole.”

  5. The Salvation Army Harbor Light, SW 2nd Street. I find it kind of poetic that a shelter has a lighthouse on their sign.
  6. Chop Suey Hung Far Low. One of my favorite signs in Portland, this one underwent a huge restoration, and may have been part of the inspiration behind Hopper’s Chop Suey painting (a revelation which makes me geek out with delight).

  7. West Side Auto, The Pearl District.
  8. Working/Playing Neon Sign, The Pearl District
  9. Georgia’s Laundromat/Vintage 7UP sign. (Apparently the establishment this sign refers to no longer exists; this is just, as one artist put it, a ghost sign.)
  10. Sign from the Joyce Hotel, one of Portland’s more ill-reputed establishments.
  11. Cameron’s Books and Magazines. (With no disrespect to Powell’s, this sign in front of this dingy little shop captivated me).
  12. Stop sign, ignored.

This time around, the city won’t be nearly so warm and dry. It will be cold, and chilly, and the streets will be damp with the seemingly endless rain that falls in the northwest this time of year. But, despite all of that, I suspect Portland will still glow. It always seems to.

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