What is it that make city pairs flip in importance and influence? If you know of another pair (I know little about the economic history of any states except Oregon/Washington and California), please let me know what happened.
I suspect flips vary from pairing to pairing, but certainly one significant factor is the presence of the aviation industry.
For decades, Portland, Ore. (the largest Portland in the world, meaning it is the largest of the 31 in the U.S.) was the dominant city in the Pacific Northwest. For much of the 19th and early 20th century, it had the largest number of millionaires per capita of any U.S. city. Most of that money came from timber and beaver pelts. (Funny: I grew up in the Beaver State and ended up at a university with a beaver mascot, and I wear a beaver ring)
Seattle was a secondary city. It must be more than population. Portland had 821 people in 1850; Seattle wasn’t even included in the Census until 1890. It’s been bigger than Portland since 1910.
Portland was joined to the national railroad system in 1887, six years earlier than Seattle.
Portland is considered an ocean port since the mighty Columbia River is dredged deeply enough to carry ocean-going vessels 50 miles inland. Score one for Seattle; it is much closer to the ocean. Which has nothing to do with the federal decision to base nearly all Pacific Northwest offices in Seattle (they always choose the most important city in a region).
For whatever reason, Seattle won the race to be “King City of the Pacific Northwest” decades ago, certainly by my birth in 1952.
(continued―next week LA versus SF)