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December 19, 2011 4:11 PM   Subscribe

The dream of the suburbs is alive... in Vancouver! (just across the river from Portland)
posted by mathowie (82 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
Don't pretty much all American cities have suburbs like this?

So, not just Portland?

Yeah, thought so, just wanted to make sure.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 4:14 PM on December 19, 2011


Well, the joke is that 2 miles from the bike riding, independent coffee & beer mecca of Portland is Vancouver, where it's bizarro world of Portland, with big box chain stores and a vastly different sort of city.

All major cities have suburbs, but in this case, we have a stark contrast right next to each other, separated only by a river and the state line, and it's also a parody of the initial music video trailer for Portlandia.
posted by mathowie at 4:18 PM on December 19, 2011 [9 favorites]


hee hee hee "it's a place where people go! to avoid income tax!"
posted by beefetish at 4:19 PM on December 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've driven through Vancouver, other than low on gas, why would you stop?
posted by sammyo at 4:20 PM on December 19, 2011


It is no error that my eldest brother lives in Vancouver. It is also a reason why I do not live in Portland.
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:21 PM on December 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, the joke is that 2 miles from the bike riding, independent coffee & beer mecca of Portland is Vancouver, where it's a bizarro world of socialized medicine, gay marriage, and great inexpensive ganja.
posted by gman at 4:26 PM on December 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


Maine is more than 2 miles from British Columbia.
posted by Zark Muckerberg at 4:30 PM on December 19, 2011 [22 favorites]


The video is talking about Vancouver, Washington. Not Vancouver, British Columbia.
posted by Gary at 4:30 PM on December 19, 2011


The video is talking about Portland, Oregon. Not Portland, Maine.
posted by clockwork at 4:32 PM on December 19, 2011


The video is making fun of Portlandia, not Saturday Night Live.
posted by doublesix at 4:35 PM on December 19, 2011 [2 favorites]




No love for Camas/Washougal? COME ON.
posted by cortex at 4:35 PM on December 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


i'm so confused
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 4:35 PM on December 19, 2011


The town that raised me. It is not what it once was. It is Burgerville U.S.A. however.
posted by rainperimeter at 4:38 PM on December 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


What are the snarky tag lines for Tigard, Beaverton and Hillsboro?
posted by humanfont at 4:39 PM on December 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Well, I dunno, I bet there are a number of these potential comparisons. I mean, just down the Peninsula from San Francisco is the suburban wasteland of San Jose.

I never even knew Vancouver WA existed until it was buried in Mt. St. Helens ash. That said, I understand there is a town in Oregon called Boring.
posted by zomg at 4:39 PM on December 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


I mean, just down the Peninsula from San Francisco is the suburban wasteland of San Jose.

I see you've never been to Vancouver, WA.
posted by gurple at 4:40 PM on December 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Gary: The video is talking about Vancouver, Washington. Not Vancouver, British Columbia.

I have two New Year's resolutions: 1) learn my North American geography, and 2) watch the fuckin' video before commenting
posted by gman at 4:41 PM on December 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


I never even knew Vancouver WA existed until it was buried in Mt. St. Helens ash.

I never knew there was any other Vancouver until probably high school. See also the fact that there was a Milwaukie in Wisconsin of all places, and they spell it wrong.

That said, I understand there is a town in Oregon called Boring.

There is! I spent a year living there when I was a kid. You can guess if it was fun or not.
posted by cortex at 4:46 PM on December 19, 2011 [8 favorites]


I spent a weekend in Beaverton, once. For those of you not familiar with the local geography, Beaverton is in the upskirts of Portlandia
posted by Zark Muckerberg at 4:49 PM on December 19, 2011


I have a pet theory that Vancouver Washington was named to trick people headed north to the Canadian Vancouver, kinda like the Iceland/Greenland name-myth.
posted by nomisxid at 4:49 PM on December 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Portlandia clip is funnier, the Vancouver one seems like they're just rushing to the defense. Or, the joke is old, and poorly told.

Maybe it is just because I live in an area where not only do people emulate suburbia to a T, but are proud of it. I thought I had moved far enough out to avoid that. Well, welcome to bedroom communities. All of the suburb behavior and the yearning for those big box stores that go along with it.
posted by narcoleptic at 4:50 PM on December 19, 2011


There is! I spent a year living there when I was a kid. You can guess if it was fun or not.
posted by cortex at 4:46 PM on December 19

I always wondered where that name came from.
posted by Cranberry at 4:51 PM on December 19, 2011


See also the fact that there was a Milwaukie in Wisconsin of all places, and they spell it wrong.

HEY!
posted by desjardins at 4:52 PM on December 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


"You can drive in the bike lane and not get a ticket!" Heh.
posted by A dead Quaker at 5:00 PM on December 19, 2011


In Vancouver, you can still get your groceries bagged in plastic.

OK, that just slayed me. Across the bridge ... a whole other world ...
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:01 PM on December 19, 2011


Don't pretty much all American cities have suburbs like this?

You're so literal, ethnomethodologist ...
posted by carter at 5:02 PM on December 19, 2011


cortex: "I never knew there was any other Vancouver until probably high school. See also the fact that there was a Milwaukie in Wisconsin of all places, and they spell it wrong."

Wait until you here how they pronounce Oregon, WI. Hint: They're just as het up about it as people in Oregon state.
posted by stet at 5:05 PM on December 19, 2011


The video is talking about Vancouver, Washington. Not Vancouver, British Columbia.

Vancouver, British Columbia is where you cannot hear Steel Guitar Radio.
posted by ovvl at 5:08 PM on December 19, 2011


Is he a hipster?
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 5:12 PM on December 19, 2011


cortex has the third ever Camas, WA reference on MeFi, which I think means the ghost of Crown Zellerbach must now appear and rain white ash down on this thread, making it smell like rotten eggs.

The whole thing is depressing. Clark County grew like crazy in the 90s and 00s, routinely being crowned "fastest growing county in Washington." But almost none of that was jobs, just farmland being torn up and turned into cheap housing developments and box stores. Camas and Vancouver raced each other to build out to their urban boundaries, and what lies between the downtown Vancouver core (what remains of it - there's not even a Burgerville there anymore) and 192nd is a wasteland of suburbia - literally nothing but huge arterials bordering disconnected cookie-cutter housing-only communities and megaretail blocks. It's the kind of place where the ambulance, sirens blazing, will drive past your house three times trying to navigate the maze of cul-de-sacs. (True story).

Also, for those not in the know about the bridge joke, there's currently a big brouhaha going on about replacing the Interstate Bridge over the Columbia. It's a drawbridge, and the only stoplight on I5 between the borders. The proposed replacements have been a little out of scale with the rest of the city, and somewhere in the 3-4 billion dollar range.
posted by lantius at 5:12 PM on December 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


The Burgerville isn't on Mill Plain any longer? Dad and brother are still over there but I never ever go there.
posted by rainperimeter at 5:15 PM on December 19, 2011


I am using a public computer (Apple store, natch) so couldn't get any audio.. so I turned on YouTube's experimental Closed Captioning transcribing.

It was probably funnier then the actual skit.
posted by mediocre at 5:17 PM on December 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Growing up in Wisconsin, I couldn't believe that there was another Milwaukee out there! It wasn't spelled right, and it was west of the Mississippi! It might have well be on Mars.
posted by spinifex23 at 5:20 PM on December 19, 2011


I over-wintered with my grandparents in Vancouver the year that (was it Carter? Or Nixon?) we experimented with year-long daylight savings time, and all I remember about the place is endless rows of identical houses surrounded by identical pine trees and waiting for the school bus in the dead of night every "morning."

In the spring, we moved across the river into the neighborhood just north of Killingsworth/Ainsworth, and it felt like a different continent, even to a 9-year-old.
posted by Devils Rancher at 5:21 PM on December 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


No love for Camas/Washougal? COME ON.

I have heard, from my grandfather (this was in the mid-90's so it may be old intel) that there's a bar in Camus that Tanya Harding frequents on ladies' night. Make of that what you will.
posted by Devils Rancher at 5:24 PM on December 19, 2011


rainperimeter: I was disappointed as well. Apparently it was just closed and demolished a few months back. I took the train into town in October and had to ride all the way out to Fourth Plain to get some childhood memories-in-cheeseburger form. Plus side: I only got almost killed once, which was an improvement over my previous bicycling adventures in Clark County.
posted by lantius at 5:25 PM on December 19, 2011


When I worked at call-out market research job in Portland waaaay back in pre-Cambrian age, i.e., the '80s, I only knew of Vancouver as a place where only old people answered the phone and yelled "I don't want to buy anything!" and hang up on me.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 5:28 PM on December 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


uggghhhh clark county
posted by beefetish at 5:30 PM on December 19, 2011


I have a pet theory that Vancouver Washington was named to trick people headed north to the Canadian Vancouver

Ahhh I can't help but go all historical here. Vancouver WA had its name wayyyyy before the BC town, as the Washington settlement started as Fort Vancouver in 1824, named after the George. Vancouver BC is just a collection of smaller cities which eventually merged and took the name Vancouver... they used to be called awesome things like Gastown and Moodyville and Granville and Steveston. So now you know that Vancouver, BC was named in 1886, by which point Fort Vancouver had already existed for over half a century! Basically, Vancouverites are assholes, we just don't give a shit.
posted by mek at 5:33 PM on December 19, 2011 [12 favorites]


Thanks, Lantius. That's a heart breaker. My first apartment was on 19th and Columbia and we'd walk over to Burgerville and get fries and shakes all the time.
posted by rainperimeter at 5:40 PM on December 19, 2011


Steveston (now a part of Richmond) isn't a part of Vancouver, and neither is Moodyville (it's North Vancouver!)
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 5:45 PM on December 19, 2011


The most epic result of Vancouver confusion I've ever seen was the soldier's wife who accidentally drove from Ft. Lewis north towards Vancouver, BC (instead of south, towards Vancouver, WA), only being stopped at the border where they discovered a grenade in the glove compartment.
posted by lantius at 5:45 PM on December 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


True P-I, we need to distinguish between the City of Vancouver and Metro Vancouver (formerly the GVRD).
posted by mek at 5:58 PM on December 19, 2011


Apparently the person to blame for all the Vancouver mixups is CPR president William Cornelius Van Horne, who gave the city its name after the first train arrived in 1886. Maybe he just forgot where he was at the time?
posted by mek at 6:07 PM on December 19, 2011


I am using a public computer (Apple store, natch) so couldn't get any audio.. so I turned on YouTube's experimental Closed Captioning transcribing.

It was probably funnier then the actual skit.


Wow, that was amazing.

Having watched both, I have to say: the original version was pretty funny, but the autocaptioned version is pure gold.
posted by moss at 6:14 PM on December 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Some people in Vancouver, WA honestly think they should rename themselves, "The Couv." Who can live in such a place?

http://www.columbian.com/news/2011/jan/27/katu-should-vancouver-be-renamed-couv/
posted by interstitial at 6:15 PM on December 19, 2011


Wow, yeah, that you tube captioning is pretty much like continual "How is babby formed?", but with occasional moments of poetry.

"Plaster death, unsweetened."
"This is not likely outlet incest."
posted by Dr. Christ at 6:28 PM on December 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Bless them for working in the goddamn crc bridge.
posted by aerotive at 6:31 PM on December 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


TIL that right-wing humor doesn't require right-wing politics.
posted by 0xdeadc0de at 6:40 PM on December 19, 2011


Also, these guys did it better. Northern Atlanta represent!
posted by 0xdeadc0de at 6:43 PM on December 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


I am always shocked at how people seem to think that Portland isn't virtually all suburbia. It is just a huge hipster retirement community, right? I mean, I know Portlanders are pretty proud of not having Walmarts everywhere, but they make up for that with two of them on 82nd (the main avenue all the way on the east side). For a city with its metro population, I would be hard pressed to find another more spread out. It reminds me very much of Kansas City.

Yes, I realize this viewpoint won't win me any fans on Mefi.
posted by roquetuen at 6:43 PM on December 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


I am always shocked at how people seem to think that Portland isn't virtually all suburbia.

Portlandia's Portland is basically just Alberta/Mississippi. It's a big place. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go to Oregon City.
posted by iamck at 6:52 PM on December 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Do you know anything about the UGB? Portland isn't the densest city in the US by a long shot, but it's hardly as sprawling as you imply.
posted by rainperimeter at 6:56 PM on December 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Reading about the life of Captain George Vancouver is pretty interesting. He had to deal with Menzies, a Machiavellian botanist of all things, who worked very hard indeed to undermine his authority during the voyage, and his reputation back in Britain when he returned. I believe Vancouver died of either depression or insanity, a laughingstock.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:15 PM on December 19, 2011


It thought it was pretty flat until the very end, and even then it was a joke only a Portlander would get (make that a Portlander that is paying attention to local government issues.)

"I got stuck on the I-5 bridge."

"Yeah, they really need to replace that thing... with a bigger bridge... and make Portland pay for it."

Nice.
posted by elwoodwiles at 7:18 PM on December 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


rainperimeter, I do know about the urban growth boundary, and I know that it includes almost all of Hillsboro (nearly 19 miles from downtown Portland to the west, for those unfamiliar) and Wilsonville (about the same distance to the south). That's a long way and kind of goes to my point; no one would confuse those with anything but suburbia. Hell, the Sacramento metro area is roughly the same population as the Portland metro area and Davis is closer to downtown Sacramento than Hillsboro or Wilsonville is to downtown Portland, by about 20%.

By this link, the most densely populated incorporated part of Portland is the 99th most densely populated in the nation, right around Alhambra, a suburb of Los Angeles. The overall density for the metro area is below the Dallas or Louisville metros, and isn't Dallas usually the example of sprawl?

But that is all kind of a derail, I am more interested in the fact that wherever you are, there is always a competition to distinguish your town/neighborhood/street from the next one over, even when to an outsider it is splitting hairs.
posted by roquetuen at 7:28 PM on December 19, 2011


When my wife and I moved our family to Portland in 2005, we chose the area we wanted to live by triangulating the proximity to the greatest number of Costco's. We wound up in Beaverton, where the suburban dream was very much alive until the economy tanked.
posted by Loudmax at 7:37 PM on December 19, 2011


Thanks for introducing me to YouTube captioning. That really did contain moments of poetry. I’m not sure what it was like with sound though.
posted by bongo_x at 7:48 PM on December 19, 2011


Hmmm. I think you and I are just missing each other. You seem to be telling me that the Portland area isn't all that dense, and I'm saying that it doesn't really sprawl. By my estimation we're both correct.
posted by rainperimeter at 8:06 PM on December 19, 2011


Metafilter: Do you know anything about the UGB?
posted by Flashman at 8:06 PM on December 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Portlandia's Portland is basically just Alberta/Mississippi. It's a big place. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go to Oregon City.

More like Sellwood at the south end, up through Creston-Kenilworth and Brooklyn and North through the Tabor/Sunnyside area all the way to Kenton. Eastern boundary is like 72nd and Western boundary is the river.

I grew up in an unincorporated suburban hell outside of Oregon City adjacent to an industrial area (Jennifer Street overpass, anyone?) One time when I was 11 and feeling adventurous I snuck out and took the bus to Vancouver and found it to be even more desolate and boring.

Anyhow, now I live about a mile North of the Lloyd and a mile West of the river and I wouldn't have it any other way.
posted by Matt Oneiros at 8:39 PM on December 19, 2011


Heh, pretty funny. But as far as "it's a place where people go! to avoid income tax!" that's not quite true...

WA has no income tax, OR does. OR has no sales tax, WA does. If you live in WA and work in OR, you pay OR income tax. If you live in OR and work in WA, you pay OR income tax. Live in WA, work in WA, no income tax, just sales tax. But lots of folk commute either way.

For people living in The Couv (lol) and working in Portland, it's a double whammy -- income tax and sales tax, unless you cross the border every time you want to go to the store.

Live in Vancouver, work in Vancouver, go shopping in Portland -- you're good. Except you're supposed to claim those purchases for Use Tax, you cheaters!

Also, poor Boring, it gets no respect.
posted by wallabear at 8:46 PM on December 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


The urban growth boundary is the responsibility of a beast called the Metro is empowered by the state to manage growth in Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington counties and the 25 cities in the Portland region.

So while Beaverton and Hillsboro are part of metro, they are not part of Portland. I honestly don't know how much autonomy they have, but I think each community has some say in their development. It is pretty easy to tell that each community has a different sort goals behind their land-use planning.

Hillsboro is all about Intel, Gresham seems to be where they put all the strip malls, etc.
posted by psycho-alchemy at 9:12 PM on December 19, 2011


I had happily forgotten that they tore down the old Burgerville. Thanks for reminding me. Jerks.
posted by LoudMusic at 9:41 PM on December 19, 2011


Sigh ...

I was born and raised in Vancouver, Washington, and I can't even begin to tell you just how dry and lifeless that goddamn place is.

Okay, I can, here's one example:

I happen to be half-Italian and half-Portuguese. When I was in school (and granted, that was a while ago, but still), people, not just my classmates, but their parents, got the Italian thing, they understood what Italy was, but Portugal?

I had to explain on numerous occasions not just that Portugal was a real country, but now and then I had to explain to the half-bright members of my hometown that Portugal was not "part of Spain".

Vancouver was so damn white bread and mayonnaise that I counted as "ethnic" (their term, not mine).
posted by Relay at 9:50 PM on December 19, 2011


What?! The old Burgerville is gone!

Swines!

Now I really want a large lime frosty ...
posted by Relay at 9:51 PM on December 19, 2011


I lived in Vancouver Washington for a time. Rocky Johnson was a neighbor. His boy was in kindergarten with my boy. They raised Monarch butterflies as a science project. I had to help recapture an escaped one. little guy didn't realize he needed to stay with his tour group.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 11:20 PM on December 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Portlandia clip is funnier, the Vancouver one seems like they're just rushing to the defense. Or, the joke is old, and poorly told.

Yeah I thought so too. But then I tried to pretend that it came from an episode of Portlandia where the guy watches the Dream of the 90s video, gets really mad that they're making fun of Portland and makes a parody video of how lame the suburbs are. It's funnier that way.
posted by AlsoMike at 1:09 AM on December 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Portland that Portlandia describes is very weird to me.
But then, I moved out of Portland in the nineties. When Bush I was calling it 'Beruit on the Pacific.' Once I looked up to see that somebody was marching around with a bloody Barbara Bush head on a stick.
Now my Portland friend is all, 'o we have these amazing cafes with home-baked goods' and I'm like yo in Philly we have amazing corners with kids shooting each other fuck you.
Obviously, I miss my homeworld.
posted by angrycat at 6:35 AM on December 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is it part of the joke that they all seemed so depressed?
posted by en forme de poire at 7:51 AM on December 20, 2011


The real, self-applied parlance for this city is Vancouver USA, thank you.
posted by Danf at 8:16 AM on December 20, 2011


The overall density for the metro area is below the Dallas or Louisville metros, and isn't Dallas usually the example of sprawl?

This is quite the false equivalency. For some reason the Portland MSA includes the entirety of seven counties (Multnomah, Washington, Clackamas, Yamhill and Columbia in Oregon, Clark and Skamania in Washington.) This includes a huge chunk of Mount Hood National Forest, most of the Gifford-Pinchot National Forest, rather large chunks of the Coast Range and a not-insignificant amount of farmland.

Hell, Mount St. Helens is technically part of the Portland Metro area. When Dallas adds a VEI 5 volcano to the metro area we'll talk.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 8:33 AM on December 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


So now you know that Vancouver, BC was named in 1886, by which point Fort Vancouver had already existed for over half a century!

A fun historical fact is that Fort Vancouver was basically the end of the Oregon Trail. John McLoughin ran the place on behalf of Hudson's Bay Co, and along with managing the Company's fur business, dealt with all of the wagon trains which had survived the trek.

At that time, the future borders of the new USA were very much up for grabs, and McLoughlin sent most of the British subjects looking for a new place to settle north, in hopes that what is now Washington would end up in the British sphere of influence, and sent Americans and French south.

Other events superceded this strategy, but there are a lot of place names in the area that show this.
posted by Danf at 9:31 AM on December 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


54o40' or fight!
posted by zomg at 10:20 AM on December 20, 2011


54o40' or fight!

In due time it will all be part of the Republic of Cascadia...
posted by Mister Fabulous at 11:12 AM on December 20, 2011


> When Dallas adds a VEI 5 volcano to the metro area we'll talk.

Heck, Portland has a volcano in it's own city limits, not even the MSA.
posted by mrzarquon at 1:14 PM on December 20, 2011


When I worked at Arthur Anderson in Portland many many of my tax department coworkers lived in Vancouver because of the lack of income tax. I'm guessing very few of them reported their tax free purchases.

Portlander's don't have to pay sales tax in Vancouver, as long as they let the cashier know ahead of time. They check your ID, fill out some paperwork and voila: the tax is taken off. (generally only worth it for large purchases.)
posted by vespabelle at 1:32 PM on December 20, 2011


Salemia.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:16 PM on December 20, 2011


I never even knew Vancouver WA existed until it was buried in Mt. St. Helens ash.

First time I heard of the other Vancouver is when I went to Long Beach in my teens a few years after the eruption. Scoured the beach for glass buoys, but wound up taking home a paper grocery bags worth of pumice and a flattened penny from the Marsh Museum instead.
posted by squeak at 9:13 PM on December 20, 2011


This is quite the false equivalency. For some reason the Portland MSA includes the entirety of seven counties

I am a little late to reply to this, but no, actually it isn't. The Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex incorporates 12 counties, so it has a lot of open area as well. But more to the point, if you are trying to say that Portland's population density if unfairly dragged down by outlaying areas, I would point you to the link I posted above that says the the densest part of Portland is the 99th densest incorporated area in the US. That area is Johnson City, which is in next to Clackamas, almost 12 miles from the city center and less than a mile from the edge of the urban growth boundary.

I'll stick to my original thesis, Portland is pretty much all suburbs.

Hmmm. I think you and I are just missing each other. You seem to be telling me that the Portland area isn't all that dense, and I'm saying that it doesn't really sprawl. By my estimation we're both correct.

True, true. I think my point was more, for its size, it has pretty significant sprawl which is reflected in its low density, not as bad as some other places but thinking that it is a different beast than most American cities (or even Vancouver) is incorrect, particularly to people not from the area.

The urban growth boundary is a bit of a joke, putting a line up to 20 miles away from the city center for a city the size of Portland and calling it a "urban" growth boundary is a misnomer. psycho-alchemy is correct, Hillsboro is all about Intel and if Intel (or Nike) decides to put a new campus outside that UGB, then I think it is a reasonable bet that the UGB would be moved to accommodate. I get the impression that the UGB is more about politics than actual urban planning, but I guess it is better than nothing.
posted by roquetuen at 1:10 PM on December 24, 2011




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