#68 Gresham

gresham-barbie1In Oregon, there lies a place just outside the city of Portland where people go to escape being awesome. Every major city throughout our country has this. Los Angeles has Bakersfield. New York City has the entire state of New Jersey. Detroit has 8 Mile Road.

Located east of Portland in Multnomah County, Gresham is the fourth largest city in Oregon. The per capita income for this city was $19,588 for the last census taken in 2,000*. As the armpit of Multnomah County, Gresham spans a large section of agriculture area. Due to the low income housing environment, Gresham is plagued by gang violence and drugs. Activity related to shootings and meth house explosions can be viewed by Portlanders on KGW. Since we would never dare step foot in Gresham city limits, this is the only way we can experience the insanity… or unless your stereo was stolen from your car in Northwest.

Even though Tri-Met and City Police have been working together the past three years to increase passenger safety at the Max Blue Line stops, these still are hot spots for gang related activity. Basically, all those people unfortunate to be stuck in Gresham have to put up with this mess. The thing about Gresham that sucks the most: Gresham people hate Gresham as much as Portlanders.

On the positive note, there are some pretty decent people in Gresham.  They happily drive their minivans on Powell and Division to downtown Portland once a month.  With their Graco baby seats they purchased at Wal-Mart, Greshamites are those happy pedestrians you see at Waterfront Park.  I love watching at how happy they are to escape the depression of suburbia.

You won’t meet someone who throws around Gresham pride. Kids aren’t sporting their Centennial Eagles or Sam Barlow Bruins sweatshirts in Portland.  Why? Because they live in the most unhappy city in the metro area.  As the Portland Development Commission has successfully been cleaning up Portland, low-income families are being pushed into Gresham. Gresham Development Commission… I have one word for you: Sandy.

*This is important to know, because of all the fancy resturants that exist in Gresham, Sizzlers is #1 in my book.  Wait… you have a Red Lobster too?!?!

32 thoughts on “#68 Gresham

  1. I wish I had a robot like GORT, from “The Day The Earth Stood Still” movie. I would put him on my front porch, with a 24 ounce PBR of course,set him on “Vaporize at will mode” and nuke all these inbred white, black and mexican, droopy assed, useless, shitbag pieces of fuckwad scum that wanders constantly up and down 172nd and Stark st. area. Have a fucked up day, shitbags.Your new neighbor.

  2. Fuck you dude. I live in Gresham andmy parents make 300k a year. The only part of Gresham that’s ghetto is over by northeast Portland.

  3. You hipsters are so predictable. Aren’t you done with this whole “Gresham Sucks” thing yet? I think you’re confusing Gresham with East Portland. From 72nd to 181st there is a ton of crime…….problem is, the area from 72nd to 174th is PORTLAND. Get a clue. The west edge of Gresham does suck (from 181 to 174th). Why? Because it’s closer to Portland’s homeless, Portland’s gangs and Portland’s crime. Gresham is minutes from the Columbia, minutes from the Gorge, closer to the Mountain. Portland is what? Closer to Urban Outfitters? Closer to your flavor-of-the-week, trendy ass bar? Let’s put it this way: If you want to hang out at coffee shops and sip your espresso in your beanie and skinny jeans in the middle of summer and blog about your distaste for the suburbs Gresham is probably not the place for you. If you’re life revolves around the outdoors Gresham is probably more suited for you.

  4. I moved to Gresham when i was 8 because my step-dad was used to a suburban environment and (at the time) Gresham had a better school system than Portland. That sure didn’t last long. Very soon, we found out that most of our neighbors where trashier than hell. This came as a shock because we lived right off 282nd and Powell Valley road. If you don’t know the area, this is supposed to be one of the nice neighborhoods. In my prime learning state is also when the Gresham – Barlow school district started to collapse. Going to Barlow was like going to Hell. You have a mix of trashy East Gresham, Damascus rednecks and religious freaks, Boring rednecks, a small group of Mexicans from families who do slightly better than those living in the Rockwood area (but still share the same criminal and gang attributes), and you could count the number of black kids with one hand. It is an embarrassment of a school. I moved back to Portland two months into Sophomore year. Thank God! I moved back to SE. Back to Mt. Tabor. and living happily once more.

    Gresham is like purgatory. Plain and simple. I feel bad for the select few friends of mine who didn’t give in to the typical Suburban kid lifestyle and are still stuck out there.

    Oh, and apparently, a lot of the white trash wangster kids who occupy the Barlow air like to think they are Bloods. No shit. They walk around dipped in red and shouting about being Bloods. And I know for a fact that half of those bastards will back down before standing their ground.

  5. i hear alot of hating on gresham and unfortunately it dose suck here, but not just because of the gang or durg problems (thats a problem every WHERE) it sucks because it rains 200 days a year (guessing) because it oregon. gresham a town of hard working americans that now have to deal with bullshit violence, because punk kids have mommy/daddy issues and portland kicked them out east.. on a sunny day i would much rather take a 20-30 minute drive to sandy river or columbia gorge than go to that nasty dirty city of portland or beaverton.

  6. When I moved to Gresham in 1979 the population was 32,000. Gresham was a nice community until Portland closed their low income housing in North Portland and everyone moved East. Gresham was in the process of meeting Metro’s requirements for housing and was putting up a lot of apartments. It was not just Rockwood that got the low income people. I watched a middle class grade school become a title 1 with all students receiving free breakfast every morning and a free lunch in the afternoon. The grade school was not in Rockwood. Gresham has become a scary place to live but I cannot afford to leave my house and start again. When I contacted the police chief, not the current one, I was told not to bother calling the police if there was a problem because they are too busy dealing with the problems in Rockwood. No I am not safe in my own house and I do not drive through Rockwood at all.

  7. well the problem here is (and I lived in Gresham off and on for many years including high school in 78-80) Gresham itself is not so bad, granted there are a couple of apartment complexes near the Max which are probably now no go zones, but for the most part Gresham near the down town, or near the outskirts towards Sandy is not bad..

    It is Rockwood that is the hell hole. I was reading an article earlier today saying there are 1000 documented gang members in this area (and for every one documented one there are 3 more undocumented ones.) There is a lot of violence and drug activity. I know because my oldest has been damaged probably for life because of the gangs. The latest damage? Friday he was walking with his girlfriend and some guys who were in the process of beating a guy up, decided he was a better target and jumped him instead, holding him down and stabbing him 9 times in the chest. I F*cking hate Rockwood. You won’t hear about that on the news, and I suspect you are only hearing about a tenth of the violence that is actually happening there. I feel sorry for anyone who has to live there because of income restrictions.

  8. Well, first I would love to thank all the insighful people posting to this blog for there opinions and support. I grew up in se Portland near mnt tabor, but after getting my degree in finance and scoring a job that pays a mere $84,000 per year I realized that people in Portland are smart! They are smart enough to afford $400,000 for the same size home I have to live in in gresham. I have to wake up every morning and look out of my crappy bay window to these really ugly mountains called mnt Hood and mnt st Helens. On weekends, I’m dumb enough to travel 45 mins to mnt hood and spend all day skiing which is just horrible. In the summer I’ll jump on my crappy bike and ride a loop down this crappy “spring water trail” that takes me to Boring, down and ugly hwy along the horrible sandy river, into Troutdale (another hick town) back onto a stupid bike path that eventually takes me to this jalopity peice of crap called Gresham station. I usually pick up some awfull espresso at the word market, and then a sandwich from “The Truffle hunter.” when and if I make it back the the gang laden town I relaxe In a crappy hottub at my Gresham hovel while having to look at the uglynt hood yet again. Some how I’ve mananged to stay alive through all the gang shootings and methhouse explosions. I don’t ever hear gunshots or see any gangsters, but i’m pretty sure that they all use silencers and wear regular clothes. Mabey some day I’ll make enough money to live with all of the intelligent highly sophisticated people I see sitting on 217, 26, canyon rd, the banfield, you name the street and i’ve seen all these people loving it soo much they just sit in their cars for long periods of time right in the road. I know these people must be very succesful, because they wear $200 dollar jeans and drive really nice SUVs. For a lowly greshamite like myself to afford a home my size in a neighbor hood just as nice I would have to make about $210,000 per year to have such a luxury in Portland. I always wonder how these Portland gods afford them without being head over heels in debt? Oh well, I’ll just go back to my crappy pee on gresham lifestyle until I am successful as well.

  9. I live in the area of Gresham as you head toward Sandy. It is nice and is more or less safe–except when an off-duty deputy guns down his wife and two other women and himself.

  10. Gang problems?

    Fuck. Them. Don’t hide. Confront.
    Where are the cops, if there are known areas of gang violence. When you KNOW where the problems are, you plant an armed officer there. All day. Every day. A pair, in fact.

    You have to demand to be protected.

  11. Pingback: All I Wanted Was A Pepsi « Peaceful Pistol

  12. OK, as fair as this article is (and true) we wouldn’t suck nearly as much as we do if Rockwood wasn’t a part of Gresham now. Had it been put to a vote, all Greshamites would have made Rockwood its own COUNTRY. Our current awesome-devoid state of being is brought way down by Rockwood. So, rather than being the solid 3 that we deserve, we’re dragged down to about a .75.

  13. While I loathe Gresham as much as the next person, your writing skills make it seem as if you were educated at a public school in Gresham.

  14. Can’t wait to move back to California. Spent enough of my California earned money in this backwards ass state.

  15. “I love watching at how happy they are to escape the depression of suburbia.” Umm, can we stop the suburbia hatred?

    We live in SW Portland and are SO SICK of hipsters disdainfully referring to non-eastside areas as suburbia. We live in a great neighborhood, surrounded by a nature preserve. There are cool stores and restaurants within walking distance and we actually know all of our neighbors by name. We have friends who live on the eastside and they have had to deal with crimal activity that we’ve never even considered. There are pros and cons to living anywhere. Can we please stop the anti-suburbia b.s.?

    • By the way…I don’t think he is completely serious. I don’t see any “lets burn down suburbia” signs going up anywhere near here. So its ok.

  16. Alright, having lived in Portland for some time I agree that Gresham sucks. A lot. But, now I have moved back to my hometown of Bakersfield, California (about two hours north of Los Angeles). Let me just say – Bakersfield doesn’t compare to the sucking that Gresham does. There are suburbs of Bakersfield that may be Gresham-like, but not the entire city itself. There are nearly 400,000 people living in Bakersfield – and are a pretty huge contributor to the country’s agriculture. Instead of Bakersfield, use a town that really does compare to Gresham – like Lebec, Taft, or Maricopa. Thanks.

    • You have a point about Bakersfield vs Gresham. Bakersfield contributes a lot more. Fuck, Gresham’s nickname known prettymuch universally is ‘Greshamphetamine’. They’re not kidding, either. :p

  17. FOR REAL!! Seriously, I grew up in both Gresham and Sandy and you could not be more right. I HATE HATE HATE HATE having to go back to those sh*t holes to visit my family and friends that still live there.
    I got out ASAP and will never ever go back. Gresham is so trashy and Sandy is right on its heals with their run down shopping centers and having to drive everywhere- not at all walker/biker friendly. Bad, disgusting, over priced chain restaurants where you are just encouraging big corporations instead of a delicious mom and pop place. So sad. And then the red necks complain about jobs going over seas and how expensive everything is???
    Thats probably the worst thing about those towns- the red necks. The know NOTHING and pretend like they know everything from reading Star and People Magazines. “The Shack” and National Inquirer are high brow reading out there…
    Sorry if you do not fit into these generalizations because I do know a lot of awesome, broad minded, people who actually think and care… I was one before I moved the HELL out of that place.

    • Hahaha. I’m beginning to think you hipsters have a handbook for this rhetoric.

      “Chain restaurants, blah, blah, blah” “Big Corporations, blah, blah, blah”. You know how many Walmarts Gresham has? Zero. How many does Portland have? Let me know when you get done counting. Good ‘Mom & Pop’ places survive anywhere. Although I know you’d like to think that the Willamette Week’s latest/greatest bar-of-the-week that you frequent is in business because of you and your trendy friends….BUT in reality, they survive (or don’t) because they are good at what they do. This theory really isn’t unique to Downtown settings. Believe it or not the same theory applies in suburbia and, gasp, rural America as well. Good business + good ownership + loyal customers (AKA, customers not swayed by what is “in” or “cool”)= long term success. FYI; Downtown Gresham is filled with them: JazzyBagels, SunnyHans, SweetBettys, Cafe D, Glass Butterfly, Trufflehunter, etc,etc

      “I can’t ride my bike there, blah, blah, blah” Biking accessibility has more to do with population & housing density than a city’s demographic, crime rate, or space planning objectives, dontcha think????

      Anyway, here’s to hoping you someday realize that your jaded view of Gresham, and cities like it, has more to do with who YOU are than what restaurant you were able ride your bike to……..

      PS: Willamette Week is your PEOPLE MAGAZINE.

  18. Forget Sizzler and Red Lobster… they have a Red Robin in that shopping center that looks like a community…. not sure what the address is. But it has an Old Navy, Bed Bath & Beyond… ect.

    Red Robin… Bottomless fries!

    • Yeah, that’s Gresham Station! I *love* that place. And also, to Mathew below, I lived in Lake Oswego, and I prefer Gresham for real!

  19. Yeah, Gresham isn’t Lake Oswego. I think we all know that. But it is SOOO cliche to keep pointing it out. Moreover, there are several areas in both SE and NE Portland that have Gresham beat in terms of sketchiness.

    Gresham is what it is: A suburb full of people who largely can’t afford to live closer into town. This doesn’t make those people any less “hip” then those who live in inner SE.

    OK, so maybe it does. But still, it really ain’t that bad. I lived there for six months (I was in transition after moving back here from across the country), and I’m not all that certain it was as bad as you claim. In fact, I kinda have happy memories of those days…even though I DARED to live in Gresham!

    Get over it. Like I said, picking on Gresham is a little too cliche these days.

  20. I lived in Gresham when I was 18 and loved it! Then again I was just on the west side of 200th and never strayed far from Powell. When I used to hang out we loved Cafe Delirium, and Gresham Station is still one of the nicer shopping areas Portland has, IMO. Whenever I see those stories on the news I’m kind of surprised, as I saw more sketchiness when I lived in SE Portland.

    But, I guess your survey doesn’t lie, so I’ll let Gresham take it! Gresham is nothing but an extension of SE anyway, right?

    Um the comment before mine makes no sense… LOL

  21. Funny fact: The place most people escape from not being awesome in the US is……… PORTLAND, OR!!! WHOOOOO!!!! TAKE A BOW PORTLAND FOR SUCKING ASS!!

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