Folks from the Portland Oregon Visitors Association gave us the scoop on the city's latest developments.
Portland's new aerial tram opened in February to connect the South Waterfront District to the Marquam Hill campus of the Oregon Health & Science University. It didn't take long for locals and tourists to discover another benefit of the 3,330 linear-foot-long trip to the top of Marquam Hill: impressive views of the Willamette River, Mount Hood, and downtown Portland.
The tram has been such a hit that, as of May 20, service was extended from its original six-day schedule to include Sundays. The university responded by opening two outdoor terraces on the top of the hill as public viewing platforms (portlandtram.org, round-trip tram ticket $4). Even the city pitched in funds to build a streetcar extension directly to the tram station so that getting there is easy--and costs less than $2.
We also learned about two new theaters and a hotel that all recently opened up within a five-block radius in downtown Portland. The Gerding Theater, home to the Portland Center Stage theater company, started things when it opened last October after a painstaking and environmentally-sensitive two-year renovation. A few months later, the Living Room Theater opened as the first all- and only-digital movie theater in the country--another environmentally friendly move--specializing in independent and foreign films.
And best of all, there's a new place to stay to check out all the other stuff: the funky and affordable Ace Hotel, which opened in March. The owners enlisted the talents of their artist-friends to decorate the hotel's 79 rooms, and--remember, this is Portland--furnished them with creative reuses of old materials, such as salvaged timber for desktops (acehotel.com, from $95).