Recently my wife and I and two other couples from the Portland area spent a long weekend in New York City. The weather was perfect, and we toured the city by subway, bus and on foot and had a wonderful time just playing tourist.

But we found that there was something missing in the big city that we normally experience in Portland, and it took us about a day to finally pinpoint what Portland had that New York City did not: panhandlers.

In three days of traveling through a city with over 7 million people in it, not once were we approached by or did we see a person with a sign asking us for money. Sure, in Times Square there are those who dress up as Mighty Mouse and pose with tourists for money, but at least they are entertaining and they are, in a way, working.

On the other hand there is a panhandler on most corners in Portland, which does not present a pleasing entrance to our city or for our invited guests from other parts of the country and the world.

As a property owner in Portland, I understand that we attract people to live and visit here because the city is an attractive and comfortable one in which to be.

I fear, however, that those who drive into our city, and are continually asked for money as they do, might in the not-too-distant future decide that Portsmouth, Newburyport or even New York City is a more comfortable place to visit than Portland, Maine.

David A. Dodge