Ten Years of Portland Monthly

Reflections on a decade of magazine making

By Zach Dundas and Rachel Ritchie November 1, 2013 Published in the November 2013 issue of Portland Monthly

Ten years ago this fall, nine exhausted, exhilarated true believers sent a strange new magazine to press. The cover bore a peach-hued art deco amalgam of the city skyline. Inside lurked a promise (or was it a threat?) "to be the battleground on which the fight for Portland's future can be waged." Yup, that was us.

The magazine you’re holding marks Portland Monthly’s 10th anniversary, and its 115th issue. (Despite the name, we spent our infancy as a bimonthly.) Those fading souvenirs now buckle the shelves in our office, and rather than some existential battlefield, they chronicle a hot pursuit. In the past decade, Portland (and the idea of Portland) achieved a momentum no one could have predicted. Our city transformed from a lagging former logging port, where discreet old money and post-hippie idealists shared obscurity, to a national trendsetter—the cool, sometimes kooky younger sister of America’s biggest cities. We happily tagged along.

Fittingly, we mark our 10th with the annual Best Restaurants issue. You could talk about buildings built, neighborhoods rebooted, industries roiled or risen, or the huge influx of talented people—but few evolutions capture Portland at its best as aptly as our food Renaissance. 

The city’s restaurants, farmers markets, ambitious gardens, and busy home kitchens—the canning! the pickling!—reflect all the energies that define us: frontier gumption, ’70s-style crunchiness, the off-kilter take on global trends and styles that comes of being a small, scrappy outsider. Karen Brooks, our food editor, has been documenting the scene for two decades. In this issue’s mouthwatering distillation of a year in eating (“The 10 of Best Restaurants of 2013”), she leads us to the restaurants writing the next chapter in Portland dining. And for the first time in our history, she names a Restaurant of the Year. 

We also keep an eye trained on the future. In “The Next Top Chefs," Kelly Clarke introduces us to the unheralded line cooks, pastry chefs, and meat curers whom we (and, of course, the New York Times, which long ago adopted Portland as its spirit animal) will gush over in years to come. Meanwhile, Ben Golliver’s look at the Trail Blazers’ murky prospects, “Can Rip City Be Redeemed?," connects past and present: that premiere issue, back in 2003, contained a story titled “The Rebound Year” on exactly the same theme. Comforting? Exasperating? You be the judge.

We couldn’t be more excited to embark on a second decade of reporting and reflecting on Portland. During a particularly tumultuous period for print journalism, we continue to craft a magazine. We’re having fun (and still growing fast) on the web, on social media, and with an ever-expanding roster of events. We’re grateful for the support that you—our readers, advertisers, and investors—have given over the past 10 years. Our new promise is simple: to keep telling the stories of our endlessly fascinating city.

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