I'll say this: for all of our differences, Seattle and Portland are eerily similar. First, both cities were clearly designed by Easterners, and IMO, Seattle WREAKS of Boston. My girlfriend thought it looked like DC. I think that, if Portland wasn't divided by a river, and if half of our "downtown" buildings weren't on the other side of said river, the panoramas would, again, be eerily similar. It makes sense to say that similarity breeds rivalry.
Anyway, I went in with an open mind, all prejudices aside, and came back with a mixed bag of thoughts
To start - and this is more of a feeling than a statement of opinion - it was smaller than I expected. I thought it would be as big as Philadelphia, but it's not. No worries though. Seattle is clearly bigger than Portland; Wikipedia gives Seattle the nod at 3.4 million people, versus PDX's 2.2. That extra million peeps gives you some taller buildings, two large stadiums, and more street life downtown. Portland is a divided city, and as an east-sider, I know all of the cool is over on this side. While downtown Seattle had far more "bustle", and a slew of fancy international boutiques, the cool part of town is definitely Capitol Hill. So our average hip-seeking visitor staying in a downtown hotel has to cross a river, and yours has to climb a steep-ass hill. Same diff.
Regarding the concert: First: damn, what a long walk from the LINK station! How do you guys do that so often!!?? Second, the crowd represented Seattle as one of America's premiere music cities VERY well. I was expecting Lizzy, as the opening band, to come on with the house lights on, and overall disinterest from the crowd. Instead, it was a full-on show, with lights, smoke, etc - and the people were INTO it. REALLY warmed my heart - I thought I was the only Lizzy fan on the continent, but holy shite, the crowd sang along with gusto! (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z51wfp3hua8). The band LOVED the crowd, and vowed to come back. I definitely hope so.
After the show, we went to a lovely dinner at Olivar on E. Roy St. Taking the 49 bus up Capitol Hill was convenient and easy, and I adore your "night owl" transfers. We need that! Exhausted after a big Halloween party chez nous the night before, followed by 4 hours of sleep, a 3 hour drive, and a concert, we just hit the hay after dinner, eschewing what looked like a vibrant nightlife along Broadway and Pike/Pine. Being Halloween weekend, people were out in full force, and almost everyone was in costume. I'll say this about Seattle: you guys do enthusiasm VERY well. Portlanders tend to be more self-deprecating, whereas you guys seem more unabashed. Again, we could use that! The next morning, we walked (ouch!) up the hill, to Oddfellows for brunch, which was a lot of fun, and reminiscent of PDX, in look, quality, affordability, and attention to detail. But minus the hour wait.
Biggest positive: Streetlife. Kudos to you guys for using those magic things called sidewalks! PDX's bike culture has killed a fundamental aspect of urban life: walking to places. Kills the New Yorker in me. Our bars and restaurants may be full, but our streets are empty. And at night, there was generally a sense of "we're all going out!" all along the Broadway corridor, and had we not been exhausted and still mildly hungover from the previous night, we would have had no trouble finding a great time.
Biggest negative: Guh. Pike Place Market. Tourist attractions generally suck, but I had higher hopes for this one, since it's technically an active public market. I applaud it for simply existing - Portland desperately needs an indoor central market, and while there's a plan to build one, the simple fact that Seattle has had one for 100+ years is commendable. Otherwise, it's smaller than I expected, the fish throwing was infinitely lamer in person than it looks on TV, and it's miserably over-priced. I wanted to be excited, but was really let down.
One bit of snark, from a transportation nerd: 1920's Zurich called. They want their buses-stuck-on-a-network-of-overhead-wires back. Build an expensive and infrequent streetcar that doesn't go anywhere, like we did!
Overall, I give it a solid B. Maybe an 84 to Portland's 85 :-)
Thanks so much for your suggestions. I'll be back for sure, and we should grab a beer.