Tuesday, April 22, 2014

T is for theater and transportation (Portlandia from A to Z)

If you've read any of my other posts, you'll know that we are a theater-loving family! Theater and concert tickets are a large line item on our family budget. Two out of my three sons have a passion to be on the stage, and they get it from my husband. My youngest son, Nicholas, has a gorgeous voice and natural musical talent, but he claims he's too shy to be on the stage. As for me, I attended a high school with a fantastic theater program, but I was content to stay behind the scenes--working box office, concessions, and ushering. That way I got to see the shows over and over again!

Kieran in his current Kids Company show,
"Serendipitous Siblings"
Fortunately, Portland is full of theater opportunities. Portland was ranked #1 for independent cinemas, and our family does love movies too, but I'm talking about live theater. We have long been season ticket holders at the phenomenal, ground-breaking Portland Center Stage and Jesuit High School (where my teenager Chris has performed in many plays). And we catch many of the shows at Northwest Children's Theater too. As a member of Kids Company Northwest, my middle son Kieran gets a free ticket to each show. (He's in his fourth season with Kids Company Northwest, the two traveling troupes of Northwest Children's Theater.)

We have also frequented Broadway Rose (where Kieran had a call-back recently for The Music Man, but unfortunately did not get the part!), Jane Theater Company (where Kieran performed in the Hullabaloo, his first professional gig), Artist's Repertory Theater, Oregon Children's Theatre, and Broadway Across Portland. We've also attended the Portland Opera and Oregon Ballet Theater productions. We used to thoroughly enjoy the Gilbert & Sullivan productions at Mock's Crest Productions at the University of Portland. And of course we annually attend Shakespeare in the Park, as I mentioned on "E is for endless free or cheap entertainment."
Chris in "Shrek" at Jesuit High School

The opportunities for live theater in Portland are endless. We've been named as an "underrated American theater city" by artsamerica.org and made #21 on Travel & Leisure's list of America's Favorite Cities for Theater/Performance Art.

So glad to live in a great theater town...and it's especially rewarding to see my brave kids on stage.

Portland was on every "best cities for public transportation" list I found. Here are just a few examples: Business Insider ranked it #10, U.S. News & World Report gave it #5, Huffington Post gave it #1, CBS News New York included Portland first, and Wired profiled the city in "Why Portland's Mass Transit Rocks." Read more on the Web site of TriMet, Portland's transit agency. These are some of Portland's transportation options:

Bus: TriMet has 625 buses operating on 79 routes. In 2009, the bus system averaged almost 325,000 rides pe weekday, operating between 5 a.m. and 2:00 a.m. The bus system has 17 transit centers. Since 2006, all TriMet buses have been fueled by a B5 biodiesel blend.
Simple Rail System Map
MAX (Light Rail): MAX, short for Metropolitan Area Express, runs 127 light rail vehicles on six lines that operate through Portland and into several suburbs. MAX connects downtown with Beaverton, Clackamas, Gresham, Hillsboro, North/Northeast Portland, and the airport (you can take MAX from the airport right to downtown). 

Streetcar:  The Portland Streetcar opened in 2001 and serves areas around downtown, including Northwest Portland, the Pearl District, Portland State University, South Waterfront, the Rose Quarter, the Lloyd District, the Convention Center, and OMSI. The two-route systems serves around 13,000 riders each day. TriMet operates and maintains the streetcar system, but it is owned by the City of Portland. The Portland Streetcar was the first new streetcar system in the United States since World War II to use modern vehicles.

View from the tram
Portland Aerial Tram: The tram is an aerial tramway that carries commuters between the South Waterfront district and the Oregon Health & Science University campus. It's only the second commuter aerial tramway in the U.S., after New York's Roosevelt Island Tramway (which we rode on the last time we visited New York). The tram travels a horizontal distance of 3,300 feet and a vertical distance of 500 feet in 3 minutes. 

The Portland Aerial Tram
Cycling: As I wrote in "H is for health," Portland is a huge cycling town. TriMet began carrying bicycles on the front of buses in 1992 as an experiment. Within three years, the entire bus fleet was fitted with bike racks, each carrying two bikes. 

Vintage Trolley: In 1991, Vintage Trolley, Inc., reintroduced trolley service to Portland with working replicas of the historic Council Crest streetcars that ran in Portland from 1904 to 1950. The trolley runs on select Sundays. Rides are free, but donations are accepted. 
Boats: You can ride on the river via the Portland Spirit, Willamette Jetboats, or private boat tours.
Read my other A to Z posts here, and stay tuned for tomorrow: umbrellas (or lack thereof). 
Portland Spirit on the Willamette River


  1. That Aerial Tram is so cool. Good to know that portland has so many theatre options and many travel choices :)
    dropping by from A to z - http://afshan-shaik.blogspot.in/

  2. I love your post and how much you love your home city. I love the theater as well and have taken my children to plays since they were old enough to sit still. I am amazed every time I have them invite friends that the parents never even consider the theater. I am going to spread the love one child at a time throughout my community.


  3. I have friends in Portland, and now your pictures and descriptions make me want to visit all the more.

    Damyanti, Co-host A to Z Challenge April 2014, My Latest post

    Twitter: @AprilA2Z

  4. I've always been amazed by kids on stage. so confident and talented at young age.