Portland Walking Tours

How to spot a genuine Portland Hipster

February 1st, 2017

Hipsterius Portlandae — the common Portland hipster. This indigenous species thrives in the secluded urban landscape of the Willamette Valley. Herds roam the wet pavement of Portland from Northwest Trendy-Third to Southeast Hawthorne, biking to impromptu gatherings at food carts, dive bars, and parks before heading to house shows to drink PBR and watch each other’s small indie bands perform. But there’s something unusual about this particular species that can make them difficult to identify:

An authentic hipster will never ever admit to being a hipster.

So that leads us to the question, how do you know what a hipster is, and more importantly, where can you find one?

Many visitors to Portland, excited by TV shows like Portlandia, thrill at the chance of seeing the hipsters in their ironic T-shirts, plaid flannels, and puffy vests riding fixed-gear bikes. It’s easiest to find them in well-known Portland hipster neighborhoods such as Mississippi, Alberta, NW 23rd, The Pearl, and through the inner Southeast Belmont-Hawthorne-Division region. Here, among the vegan eateries, tattoo parlors, and obscure indie record shops, we have the best chance of observing the hipster in its natural habitat.

From well-documented sleep patterns, we know the hipster will be up at the crack of noon…or sometime after, so that is when any investigational expeditions should begin. By careful observation of the hipster’s behavior, we have identified the following characteristics:

  • Amiable yet aloof, engaging yet deeply and more pointedly condescending
  • Makes pretentious and/or witty comments as a display of intellectual prowess
  • Flaunts extensive knowledge about the obscure
  • Deeply offended by anything perceived to be “mainstream”

The Portland hipster seems to be clearly definable, yet somehow it can still be difficult to validate their authenticity once encountered. Extensive research has exposed one more piece of information essential to our pursuit, and possibly the reason why Portland’s beloved mascots — our “overeducated and underemployed” — seem so elusive even though our city is abundantly populated with them.

One of the defining characteristics of this region’s hipster hive is rapid evolution. The moment the rest of us had a taste of the coffee brewed in their Chemex coffee makers, the hipster already began morphing and moving onto the next thing you’ve never heard of. Only time will tell what their next incarnation will look like, but we’ll certainly be keeping a finger on the pulse.


Article by Tori Christensen

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