December: NYC (left) & PDX (right)

We’re kind of getting ready for the big move out west. In eight weeks time, if all goes according to plan, we will be in Portland. I have never been filled with such love for two places. On one hand, I’m so excited to be back in Oregon. I can’t overstate this. I feel like a five-year-old who has just been told that soon, very soon, Santa Claus will be taking her to Disneyland for her birthday party. And there will be kittens and strawberry shortcake.

On the other hand, I will miss Brooklyn so much. It’s been my home for most of my adult life. But New York City is a harsh mistress. She is wondrous in so many ways, but you can never hope to keep up with her. And she doesn’t give a shit whether you’re here or not. The most you can hope for is to lay claim to one block, one section of subway platform, a favorite bar or diner, your gym locker. That is all. It’s heartbreaking, really.

But as much as I already miss Brooklyn, I know this is the right decision on so many levels. The reasons are many, and I will describe them in some upcoming posts. But in the meantime, I wondered if the decision looks good on paper, freed from the deceptive constraints of feelings and anecdotes.

I don’t know which came first, my love for Wikipedia or my love for statistics. It doesn’t matter, because at this point, the love has become a tautology. I thought I’d do a side-by-side comparison of factors that are boring, but important to me. They do, but it’s not one sided.

On New York’s side are sunshine hours, diversity and public transportation. On Portland’s side lies pretty much everything else.

My only regret is that I don’t have the graphic design skills to make precisely scaled Venn diagrams or pie charts. In Helvetica.

New York Portland
Population (city) 8,175,133 583,776 The population of New York City is more than twice that of the entire state of Oregon.
Population (metro area) 18,897,109 2,260,000 The NYC metro area is the fifth largest in the entire world.
Area 468.9 sq mi 145.4 sq mi Portland is nearly one third as large, geographically, as New York City.
Population density 26,403 people per square mile 4,288.38/sq mi So basically, one smells a whole lot better than the other.
Park area 43.75 sq mi (9% of the city) 15.6 sq mi (11% of the city) Yaaay. Parks.
Average precipitation 49 inches 37.07 inches Surprised?
Average snowfall 22.4 inches 5.2 inches This is key.
Average low temperature (coldest month) 26.2 degrees 34.2 degrees Goodbye ice.
Average high temperature (hottest month) 84.2 degrees 79.7 degrees Goodbye air conditioner.
Annual sunshine hours 2,534.7 2,347.9 Hmm…I’ll be giving up nearly eight days of sunshine per year.
Murder rate .06/1000 .03/1000 I’m realizing that I have no idea what these numbers actually mean.
2011 Safety Ranking (Forbes) Number 6 (!!) Number 2 (!) Excellent job, you both.
Unemployment rate 8.3% 8.6% These are both about to get a lot higher, so…
Cost of living index 167 (67% higher than the national average) 125 (25% higher than the national average) Progress, says my bank account.
Percentage of people with my same approximate ethnic background 35.1% 74% Caribbean Day Parade, I will miss the crap out of you. And you, Red Hook Ball Fields. And you, Brooklyn Chinatown.
Percentage of people using public transportation daily 54.6% 12.6% I vow to use public transportation in Portland.
Green City Index (Popular Science) 18.2/30 (number 20 in the nation, not bad) 23.1/30 (that’s number one in the USA) So I have to start composting.


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2 Responses to NYC vs PDX

  1. Erin M. says:

    Actually, curbside composting is going to be rolling out to the whole city of Portland soon (finally!) – it’s like a welcome gift for you!! So while, yes, you will need to start composting, no, it will not be remotely difficult.

    I love your list, and if I had endless hours of time waiting to be filled, I would make pretty infographics for you. Alas, this is not the case.

    Yay for moving to Portland!!

  2. Faren says:

    Hooray, welcome soon to Portland (or…back to Portland)! You know, I was actually surprised at some of the comparative statistics you laid out above (particularly rainfall amounts, since the Pacific NW gets such a bad rap for *supposedly* being rainy nonstop).

    Be well! (And yes, you really should start composting ;-)

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