Monday, October 15, 2012

Portland Geography

It's occurred to me a number of times that we don't actually have travel times within the show - for understandable reasons, since the ideal setting for the film crew may be in a different neighborhood from the one the writers intend it to be, logistically speaking. But in certain situations, timing matters, such as at the cluster of eps at the end of season 1/beginning of season 2, when we have lots and lots of things happening in several places at once, and very tight timing.

I haven't been to Portland in twenty years, give or take, but I have Googlemaps and just enough knowledge to be dangerous. If any of the assorted natives watching Grimm out there have things to add to this, feel free to drop us a comment.

Let's begin with a couple of really common locations: the precinct and the trailer. It's fairly apparent that Aunt Marie's trailer is in some trailer park, but the trick is figuring out which one it's supposed to be. I'd say we're not sure which police precinct the cop crew works at, but I'm about 90% certain it's the main downtown one on SW 2nd Ave. That's partly to do with how they've been filming the place and partly to do with the fact that it seems to be the primary location that gmaps wants to throw at me. And somehow I don't think they're in the records building. Most of the trailer parks appear to be a 10-20 minute drive from there, though I will laugh and LAUGH and laugh if Nick's got it stashed somewhere around PDX, purely because that means Mia was within spitting distance of the damn thing (and Renard, but I bet Mia would be more upset) and never knew it.

In fact, most of the standard points A to B appear to be under half an hour's drive from each other. I don't remember Portland well enough to know if this is standard geography for the city or if this is somewhat unusual; I do know Portland has a lot of surrounding suburbs that aren't touched on as major locations in the show. They may be used sometimes for case of the week type places, and we know for sure they did at least a little filming north of Portland (Lonelyhearts), but all our consistent locations appear to be set in Portland proper.

Renard we know lives in the Pearl district, and if we wanted to get really disturbingly stalkery we could probably match up building exteriors from season 1. I am being GOOD and not going there, since for these purposes I'm only looking to match approximate travel times. Googlemaps offers me three different routes, none of which take more than ten minutes. (Technically it says seven, so probably even less if one's in a hurry.) This helps explain the rapid response time when they knew Renard was in danger in Woman in Black, for one thing. It also fits with Renard's obvious wealth and status - but it's a nouveau riche kind of place, judging by both the set design and what I'm getting off Wiki about the neighborhoods. Old money would be in long-established residential neighborhoods. It's a nice way of setting up Renard's heritage and lack of status as as bastard within his Family in the location on top of everything else.

Speaking of that whole sequence from Woman in Black/Bad Teeth/The Kiss, there's a number of hospitals within easy walking/driving distance of Renard's condo, though I think the one they're using for filming purposes is probably Legacy Good Samaritan (whatever the hell the locals call it, someone please enlighten me because that is a MOUTHFUL to say every time). Said hospital is also not too far away from the Union Station where Nick dropped his mother in The Kiss, by the way - about a four minute drive as compared to a two minute drive from the Pearl district. Which explains how the timing on Renard leaving Juliette's room right as Nick shows up can be that tight; I don't know how much thought the writers put into such things but it's a subtle way of including the city in the show.

We also know the rough location of Monroe's place! Because the screen behind Renard in the pilot tells us the little girl who got kidnapped by the other Blutbad was right around Berkeley Park, which is 15-20 and across the river from the police station. This looks to be a fairly affluent neighborhood, probably upper middle class, fitting in with what we know of Monroe's trade and probably some family money in there.

Speaking of the river, the main docks in town seem to be located just west of PDX. Nearish one of the possible trailer park locations, and a pretty straight shot to either Renard's place or the station. So there's that, too. The river as a whole plays a fairly noteworthy role in the setting so far - all of the metaplot episodes involve the river or bridges or both in some way.

What I don't know and can only guess based on socioeconomic cues and vague guessing via what few Wiki pictures I can get my hands on, is where Nick and Juliette's house is. If I had to guess I would say they filmed that (and also probably Catherine's house) in Ladd's Addition, for the historic feel of it. While I'm sure Catherine Schade could afford to live there, I'm far less certain Nick and Juliette, even with both their incomes, could do the same. (Vet school: not cheap, not quick, and Juliette's almost certainly still paying off her student loans.) I don't know if the writers have said where they're supposedly living, but if you do, let me know! I have to assume that wherever they're living, it's not too far from the precinct or from Juliette's work. Emphasis on the precinct, because Nick's got a greater likelihood of being called out in the middle of the night. Ladd's Addition is right across the river from downtown, so I suppose it's possible they got as lucky as Kitty did with her house (K: HAH. Not likely.) and now have a massive mortgage to deal with? But that's about all I got on that one. That guess would, though, put Nick and Monroe within a 10-15 minute drive of each other.

I don't think we have enough exterior shots of Hank's place to really say where it is within Portland, but based on the interior I'm going to say somewhere with newer but not newest construction, and fairly solidly middle-to-working class, since Hank has to afford his place on his own.

Adalind's place is pretty obviously meant to be downtown, in one of the areas that's probably just outside the Pearl proper. Expensive, upper class, but not quite as much money as Renard has available to him. Close to Renard's place in multiple senses; I'm sure that's on purpose.

Rosalee's shop is probably supposed to be somewhere in Northwest Portland, going off economic/historic appearance, but apart from that I got nothing offhand.

Unfortunately until we get confirmation from the PTB, or some useful street signs or something, this is about all I can muster for facts. I can't tell you a damn thing about where Wu's apartment might be located other than one of the neighborhoods with apartment complexes. Least helpful hallway shot is least helpful. What I would love is some explanation of why all our civilians drive instead of taking public transit, at least so far as we've seen. I mean, Doylist reasons are easy, they don't want to shut down a bus route or the lightrail just to use it in an episode. Watsonian... well, public transit makes up a large part of Portland, both the feel and look of it, and though they've done some nudging with the not!Greyhound Ian Harmon came into town on, and the shots of Union Station, we don't have nearly enough to make it make sense. Is public transit something that only certain economic classes take? Presumably even if transit runs 24-7 there are times when services are reduced, which means the cop crew has to all have cars in order to get to crime scenes quickly. A couple line references from Monroe or Juliette or Rosalee would help fix that part of the city in place even if they can't afford the time/trouble to put the public transit in the foreground, is all I'm saying. Or biking! Bikes are cheap and we know certain people already have them and okay, so part of me really wants to see Renard in his suit biking to work. Because that would be hilarious.

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