I can already sense the response from those in other parts of the state: “What? Portland, the Top 10 List Capital of the U.S., underestimates itself in some way?”
Yeah, yeah. Look, I’ve seen Portland land on so many national publications’ “best of…” lists in the last few years it’s made my head spin. If you’re scoring at home, Portland has some of the best beer, the best coffee, the healthiest women (and men), the best farmers markets, the best drivers, the best restaurants the hippest downtown and the best brunches. It’s one of the top cities in America to raise a family, find a job, start a second career, protect the environment, find eligible women and be gay.
And I’m sure I’ve forgotten five or 10 things.
While a lot of these accolades have come from Travel + Leisure magazine, whose readers and writers seem to love the place, we’ve also seen plaudits from the likes of Forbes, Outside, Parenting, Draft, Women’s Health and Bon Appetit, among others.
So I’ll excuse you if you find it hard to believe that there’s some aspect of life in Portland that Portlanders aren’t perfectly willing to brag about or put on a marketing brochure.
But as it turns out, denizens of Maine’s largest city — while sipping their acclaimed coffee after an acclaimed brunch in their acclaimed downtown — just don’t realize how good looking they are.
For this particular spin, we’re back to Travel + Leisure, admittedly. Each year, they ask readers to respond to an online survey rating 35 American cities on a wide range of criteria, and the end results locally provide an interesting picture of what visitors –and residents, who also weigh in — think of Portland.
While most of what this year’s results show — we’re still good drivers, for instance — is about the same as last year, Portlanders shot up from the middle of the pack to the No. 4 spot in terms of how “attractive” visitors find us.
If you’re curious, survey takers ranked only San Francisco, Providence and Nashville ahead of Portland in terms of how easy on the eyes the cities’ residents are. Looking up at Portland in that regard are such warm-weather bikini spots as Miami, Los Angeles, San Diego and Honolulu.
But there’s a serious disconnect in how Portland residents rated themselves in that category and how other people saw them. Portlanders, in one of the few categories in which they sold themselves significantly short, ranked themselves 27th out of 35 cities’ worth of people.
There are several grids of information Travel + Leisure has available for your consideration if you decide to check out their page (Spoiler alert: Food and drink good, nightclubs and hotel options bad), but here’s one that compares the outside impression of Portlanders with their own self image:
Business Insider attributed Portland’s high ranking on the attractiveness scale to the locals’ “rugged good looks” despite their “mellow” demeanor. The business publication called the city’s move from 17 to 4 on the list in terms of attractiveness “a makeover.”
One thing Portlanders and their visitors seem to agree on? We don’t know how to show off our good looks. As you can see in the above chart, both parties once again ranked Portland in the bottom of the pack in terms of its residents’ stylishness.
Paging Tim Gunn… Clinton Kelly? Stacy London? Anyone?