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In the 1970s, Portland, Oregon decided to reject construction of additional freeways and apply the $500 million in federal funds (this took some wheedling by then mayor, the now-disgraced Neil Goldschmidt) to building a business transit mail downtown and a rail mass transit system.  The first leg of the rail system, called MAX Light Rail, was completed in 1986.  

I-5 northbound congestion at Skidmore Avenue
      I-5 in Portland Oregon, looking north.  A classic illustration
      of the futility of freeway transport for mass transit. Neighbor-
      hoods are destroyed, while a miles-long traffic jam forms
      on the roadway for which the neighborhoods were sacrificed.
      ©WSDOT, limited reuse per CC BY-NC-ND-2.0.
     
The struggle against the freeways
The original plan of the Oregon Highway Department developed in the 1950s was to build a whole network of freeways in Portland.  Some of these were built, with I-5 in particular punching right through the only African-American neighorhood in Portland. (See here for a map of the built and proposed freeways.)  

One proposed freeway was the Mount Hood (aka "the Highway to Hell"), which would have run from the world's ugliest bridge (the Marquam over the Willamette river) east along along a route two blocks wide running between present Division and Clinton streets, to 52nd street, where it would have met the proposed 52nd Street freeway, then SE to to a route along present-day Powell Boulevard and then E to the city of Gresham.  Present day north-south 20th Avenue, then and now a two-lane residential street, would have been converted into an "expressway" accessed via a cloverleaf intersection.

Clearance of the right of way would have required condemnation and destruction of 1,750 residences, about 1% of the housing stock of the city.  

Substantial steps towards this were made. One-quarter of the properties in the freeway's path were acquired by the Oregon Highway Department, and some housing demolition had begun. Here is a blog with some images of the route the freeway would have carved through the city.

The whole thing could have been cooked up by an evil cartoon:

Judge Doom: A few weeks ago I had the good providence to stumble upon a plan of the city council. A construction plan of epic proportions. We're calling it a freeway.
Eddie Valiant: Freeway? What the hell's a freeway?
Judge Doom: Eight lanes of shimmering cement running from here to Pasadena. Smooth, safe, fast. Traffic jams will be a thing of the past.
Eddie Valiant: So that's why you killed Acme and Maroon? For this freeway? I don't get it.
Judge Doom: Of course not. You lack vision, but I see a place where people get on and off the freeway. On and off, off and on all day, all night. Soon, where Toon Town once stood will be a string of gas stations, inexpensive motels, restaurants that serve rapidly prepared food. Tire salons, automobile dealerships and wonderful, wonderful billboards reaching as far as the eye can see. My God, it'll be beautiful.
More on the struggle between the hobbit citizenry and the Freeway of Sauron, and its ultimate results below the fold.

Following a long struggle (see here for a comic book version), the community was able to prevent the Mount Hood Freeway from being built, although as a compromise, the 52nd avenue freeway was built, but further to the east, at about 92nd avenue, and became known as I-205.  Here's a link to a 2006 video from streetfilms.org which compares the implemented freeway projects in Brooklyn, NY to the similar but unimplemented projects Portland.  It's a bit propagandistic, and somewhat dated in terms of the current light rail / bus mall situation, but I think it gets the point across.

Modern plans for the area
The many years of uncertainty over the area's future had inhibited both both business development and residential construction.  Since the area had been considered to be a low-rent district in the first place (and thus eligible under the thinking of the time to be replaced with a freeway), this man-made blight had made things all the worse.

Since that time there has been a bit of a rebound.  The city has developed, as they have for many other areas, a comprehensive development plan for Division street, see here (.PDF).  Division is intended to be a "Main Street" with commercial intensive zones at intervals, and an emphasis on mixed commercial and residential use throughout.  

Clinton Street, basically parallel to and two blocks south of Division, has been designated by the city's transportation bureau for special enhancements for bicycle use.

P1030659
     Image 1: Mixed use structure in lieu of freeway cloverleaf
Image 1 shows a dual use structure located on the north side SE Clinton Street, near SE 20th Avenue in Portland, Oregon.  There are four dwelling units located above commercial premises.  This structure is located on a long narrow lot back from the street.   One can see the attractive nature of the open two-story main room in the dwelling units. The cloverleaf interchange for the 20th Avenue expressway would have been at just this point.  Instead nowadays a bus route, Line 10, runs south down 20th Avenue and turns east on Clinton, immediately to the right of Image 1.  

P1030715
      Image 2: In-fill housing on formerly projected freeway
Image 2 shows on the left side an in-fill single family residence.  The new residence is staggered back from the street, giving it a better sense of privacy.  There is no provision for a garage in either residence shown here, although both residences are located within easy reach of bus routes which run east and west along Division Street (Route 4) and Clinton (Bus 10).  Construction of the Mt. Hood freeway would have required the destruction of every structure in this image.  In-fill housing has been encouraged by the city, and has attracted national attention (See here for a HUD-sponsored report (.PDF)).

P1030712
      Image 3: Residential use over business, upper floors overlook city
    rather than freeway
Image 3 shows a mixed-use structure located at 3103 SE Division Street in Portland, Oregon.  This is very close to the houses shown on Image 2, and about 10 blocks to the east and two blocks north of the structures in Image 3.  

The building shown in Image 3 has twelve dwelling units placed above 8,000 sq. feet of commercial space. This was built over a substantially reconstructed building that once housed the Reliable Auto Parts, and is still called the Reliable Building. The developer has a detailed webpage, with more detail.  Image 3 also shows new multi-use structure under construction on the right.

Had the Mount Hood Freeway been built, this section of Division Street would have been designated a "frontage road".  The point from where Image 3 was taken would have been just on the edge of the drop off into the freeway trench, making the whole area much less attractive to investment in construction such as the Reliable Building.

P1030724
      Image 4: Residential use over business, separate structures
    connected by multi-story breezeway.
Image 4 shows the 3810 Building, on the south side of Division, and therefore well within what would have been the westbound lanes of the freeway.  

This remarkable building is actually two structures connected on the top three floors by a multi-story glass-walled breezeway.  Commercial space is on the lower floors, and one can walk into a quiet well-garden plaza to access businesses located in the rear of the structure.  Although there are 24 residential apartments, there is no space provided for off-street parking.  The idea of the developer is to appeal to people who prefer to use mass transit or bicycle as their primary mode of travel.

P1030733
      Image 5: A new food cart on Division street, attracted by better
     business opportunity.
Image 5 shows one of Portland's ubiquitous food carts, one of the most beloved features of the city.  I spoke with the owners of this particular food cart, which is a striking red color outside, and has a wonderful stainless steel modern kitchen inside, and they told me they'd relocated to Division Street a couple months ago.  

These folks were serious people -- you have to be of course to be successful in this trade, and in their late 20s.  They said business was better here, on account of the many businesses and new development projects in the area, and they felt it would support their somewhat higher priced menu.  The food cart nation is of course highly oriented to twitter and social media for promotion, this particular cart receiving good reviews here .

On larger scale, the coming of this food cart to the area to be a good sign -- the cart itself clearly represented a substantial investment of money for the young owners, and they had chosen their site with care.  Could the presence (or absence) of food carts in a community be a macro-economic indicator?  If it is, y'all owe me a Nobel Prize.

pretty-pony
      Need to tie up your horse?  Portland has your solution!
     © Marie Richie limited reuse per CC BY-NC-SA
Personal observations
In researching this diary I walked around the neighborhood.  I ran into a fellow named Dennis working on his house in what would have been the Mount Hood freeway and I got to talking with him about the freeway proposal.  He said the area was the only place they could afford, and at the time house prices were down in the vicinity because the state had condemned so many properties in the area for the freeway right of way.  

I zigzagged up and down the neighborhood streets walking between Clinton and Division Streets.  Division is a busy street, with much new development.  But there are still signs of underuse, a vacant lot where an auto repair shop burned, an unfortunately closed former Japanese restaurant with a vacant parking lot.  

There's even a porno theater, a rare survivor in the days of the internet.  this particular theater was built in 1926, I'm sure as an ordinary establishment.  By the 60s and 70s according to this blog, it had shifted over to a porno format, complete with a since-removed classic garish neon sign.  This seems to be a holdover from the lower level of economic development in the community at that time.  

Over on Clinton Street, where a streetcar once ran back in the day, the traffic is much less and slower.  (Clinton you'll recall marks the southern edge of the projected freeway right of way).  Clinton street is mostly residential, with a combination of older duplexes and apartments, some infill, and also a number classic bungalow style houses.  Clinton Street is definitely much safer for bicycles, with speed bumps and traffic islands to keep down vehicular traffic.  

Portland now gives names to the east-west roadways, like Division and Clinton, and calls them (mostly) "streets", but gives numbers to the north-south roadways, and calls them (mostly) "avenues".  However, the concrete pours in the area show that the now ho-hum numbered avenues once had names of their own, and these can still be read, such as "Kenilworth" in the concrete.  

The contractors also were proud to show their names in the concrete pours, as well as the date of the work.  I saw "1911" quite a bit.  (There is actually a monograph on this!)  Some Portlanders seem to love the old names and the sidewalk dates, see here for a blog with a lot of photos.

Back in 1911, horse-drawn transport was still common, and one still sees the curbs protected by steel angle-irons, which was necessary to keep the steel rims of cartwheels from destroying the concrete curbs.  Horse rings are still common, my house has one.  

weenie-deux
      Two Portland residents out for a stroll on Clinton Street.
     © Marie Richie limited reuse per CC BY-NC-SA
Conclusion
Please notice that the decision to build the freeway, the decision to abandon it and emphasize other transportation alternatives, and the later revitalization of the community, have spanned almost 50 years of time.  Decisions we make today will have similar effects over similar time scales.  

In my earlier diary on the Portland Street Car, I mentioned that the street car was not a magic potion to cure a city's problems, but it could be part of a solution.  

Another key solution, which I hope to have shown here, is the encouragement of local small business, you can see this throughout the area I have described.  These generate local jobs which cut down on the need to build transportation infrastructure.  Also, a large number of successful smaller businesses will IMHO be a more stable economic base than one or two large businesses, which, should they fail, will take down the entire community with them.

Avoidance of destruction of significant portions of a community for freeways, and instead conversion to more densely populated areas served by mass transit, and deemphasizing the private automobile, can contribute further to an improved quality of life in the city.

It's right to be guarded about too much urban planning, as that in the 50s and 60s that became a code word for neighborhood destruction as opposed  to what was really needed, which was neighborhood revitalization.  

But it won't do to call a city's planning for neighborhood development socialism -- that wasn't what we heard when cities were being diced up into pieces by freeways.  And surely it is just as much socialism to favor a policy of constantly expanding suburbs, consuming more and more resources, both in land and in public construction of roads, schools, etc., while leaving behind a zone of decay and civic neglect.

One of the finest books on this topic is The City in History (1961), by Lewis Mumford, and the point of this book, if I understand it correctly, is that people's lives and philosophy are organically linked to the cities they live in, and vice versa, and if, as a primarily urban society, we wish to change or control our lives, then we must seek to change and control the development of our cities.

I mentioned the sidewalk dates and contractor names.  Of course in our world of time-pressure and constant demands, one has little time free to spend on such concerns.  But I think there is a need for a sense of history and community, and this is why we are encouraged to be able to look down to see instantly when a sidewalk was poured, and the names of the people who did the work.

Well, that's all for now.  What do you think?

Pax.

Originally posted to Plan 9 from Oregon on Fri Mar 30, 2012 at 02:58 PM PDT.

Also republished by PDX Metro, DK GreenRoots, Ecocities Emerging, and Community Spotlight.

Poll

How satisfied are you with the effect of freeways on our cities?

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Comment Preferences

  •  And thanks to this foresight you can live in most (24+ / 0-)

    neighborhoods in Portland and still be able to walk to most essential services.

    When gas tops $6.00 a gallon residents will not need to move just to be able to get to the grocery store.

    Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance.

    by Horace Boothroyd III on Fri Mar 30, 2012 at 03:13:24 PM PDT

  •  Europeans knew: Keep highways out of downtown. (36+ / 0-)

    They have London, Paris, Rome, Berlin, Edinburgh, Dublin, etc. We have Atlanta, Las Vegas, and Philadelphia and other self-inflicted urban wounds.

    All is not lost, however.

    Check out the Congress for the New Urbanism's Project for Transportation Reform and fight back.

    •  that's an excellent link, thanks for posting! (6+ / 0-)

      You have exactly 10 seconds to change that look of disgusting pity into one of enormous respect!

      by Cartoon Peril on Fri Mar 30, 2012 at 03:23:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I'm proud to have lived the alternative (6+ / 0-)

      having lived in two state capitals, both where the freeways are kept away from the true downtown (they come close in Nashville due to later growth of downtown, but nowhere near in Madison).

      Male, 21, -4.75/-6.92, born and raised TN-05, now WI-02, unapologetic supporter of Obama and Occupy. Tammy Baldwin for Senate and Recall Walker!

      by fearlessfred14 on Fri Mar 30, 2012 at 09:44:33 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Great point. Loved Madison. (3+ / 0-)

        Madison also has the advantage of hosting both the state Capitol and the state university system's flagship campus. It's an urban synergy that Springfield, Ill., where I lived for a year, could desperately use.

        •  Nashville could use it badly too (4+ / 0-)

          Especially given that it's a close second in population to Memphis, it's a real shame that the flagship campus is in the smaller and less vibrant city of Knoxville. In fact, UT does not have a large campus in either Nashville or Memphis!

          Male, 21, -4.75/-6.92, born and raised TN-05, now WI-02, unapologetic supporter of Obama and Occupy. Tammy Baldwin for Senate and Recall Walker!

          by fearlessfred14 on Fri Mar 30, 2012 at 10:57:35 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I've been to Nashville once (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Cartoon Peril

            and was struck by the crazy number of freeways. Those can't all have been necessary.

            "The great lie of democracy, its essential paradox, is that democracy is the first to be sacrificed when its security is at risk. Every state is totalitarian at heart; there are no ends to the cruelty it will go to to protect itself." -- Ian McDonald

            by Geenius at Wrok on Sat Mar 31, 2012 at 06:55:53 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Not entirely true for Rome (5+ / 0-)

      Granted, there are no freeway that run through the historic center, but there's one that was constructed in 1960 for the Olympics.  It runs from the Olympic stadium on the northern side of the city and makes a curve to the southeast, where there's a link that takes you to the beltway, or Grande Raccordo Annulare.  The neighborhoods surrounding it were just being developed in those years, so the tangenziale didn't really split neighborhoods, though it certainly disconnects them.  

      One of the most interesting projects to attempt to recuperate lost space created by the tangenziale is Renzo Piano's Auditorium, which has become Rome's premiere concert space as well as a lively cultural center.  It's a true urban model.

    •  Nice to see the CNU is still alive and kicking (4+ / 0-)

      In the 1990s, bookstores were flooded with books on new urbanism, and I devoured them. In the last 10 years, though, nary a peep has been heard; it was as though the whole idea had keeled over and died with Al "Smart Growth" Gore's presidential loss. As for me, I moved into the city of Chicago, then to Cambridge, Mass., then (after an unpleasant rural interregnum) back to Chicago, so I've been immersed in the old urbanism. I still believe, though. I also still believe that Americans will not substantially change their driving and development habits until gasoline reaches $9 a gallon. That's been my prediction for years, and I'm sticking with it.

      "The great lie of democracy, its essential paradox, is that democracy is the first to be sacrificed when its security is at risk. Every state is totalitarian at heart; there are no ends to the cruelty it will go to to protect itself." -- Ian McDonald

      by Geenius at Wrok on Sat Mar 31, 2012 at 06:54:45 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  But what about essentials deliveries (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cartoon Peril, lorzie

      My dad is a truck driver (been driving for 35 years), and I've been on a lot of trips with him.  Sure, building highways without regard is stupid and misguided, but if there isn't at least some highways close to the downtowns (or even through them), how do you expect tractors + 53 foot trailers to easily make the trip into areas that are narrow and congested.

      Sure, you could say "well, then let's have only 25-30 foot straight-job trailers", but that's just unreasonable; it would drive up the cost immensely for shipments.

      It's difficult enough traveling around NYC in a 18-wheeler even with all the highways there.  I can't imagine how awful it would be if literally thousands of big trucks were forced to travel entirely on city streets and avenues.  It would be a nightmare.

      "Give me a lever long enough... and I shall move the world." - Archimedes

      by mconvente on Sat Mar 31, 2012 at 08:23:18 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  First, why (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Cartoon Peril, native, adrianrf, ybruti

        is an 18 wheeler delivering to a downtown establishment?  I have never seen one delivering in the downtown of my city of 180,000.

        Essential deliveries should be handled via delivery trucks, not long distance 53 foot long haulers.

        "Growing up is for those who don't have the guts not to. Grow wise, grow loving, grow compassionate, but why grow up?" - Fiddlegirl

        by gulfgal98 on Sat Mar 31, 2012 at 08:37:01 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well they make tons of deliveries in NYC (6+ / 0-)

          Yes, there are smaller trucks that make deliveries, too, but there are plenty of 53 foot trucks that deliver all kinds of items throughout the city.

          My dad used to deliver produce to Hunts Point market in the Bronx.  Interstate 278 is about a mile away from the market.  Without that Interstate being constructed, you would have had 53 foot trucks coming from California, Florida, etc. driving on two lane avenues constructed who knows how long ago.

          Maybe NYC is a unique example because the density is so high.  With the amount of essentials needed based on the density, it would cost a lot more to have every single essential delivered by a 25 ft straight-job truck.  The 53 foot trailers are already at max capacity, and you'd be cutting that in half, so that equals 2X as many as trucks and 2X as many drivers.  Way more expensive.

          "Give me a lever long enough... and I shall move the world." - Archimedes

          by mconvente on Sat Mar 31, 2012 at 08:47:43 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  I've noticed more tractor-trailers making final (5+ / 0-)

        deliveries to small shops and causing traffic headaches for everyone else. Sometimes the only place for them to park is the street itself.

        This is an example of the kind of "efficiency" that is killing our economy. We used to have things called "depots" and "warehouses" where long-haul trucks would transfer goods to smaller "step-van" type delivery vehicles. That system increased the cost of shipment, but it also created jobs.

        Using full-size semi's to make local deliveries doesn't reduce costs, it just transfers costs to the other drivers using the city streets. I'm sure your dad operates his rig with as much safety and consideration as he can, but the system should not require him to operate a big rig on city streets. If we all have to pay an extra five cents for a bag of Fritos, so be it.

        Have you noticed?
        Politicians who promise LESS government
        only deliver BAD government.

        by jjohnjj on Sat Mar 31, 2012 at 08:41:15 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  They still exist in NYC (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Flying Goat

          Hunts Point market in the Bronx, for example.  But even with places like that, there still are a lot of direct deliveries in Manhattan, which does cause headaches for both drivers and residents.

          Thankfully my dad has been out of the produce game for a while (moved on to sports television).  Of course, driving a 53 foot trailer to Madison Square Garden isn't exactly peachy either! =P

          "Give me a lever long enough... and I shall move the world." - Archimedes

          by mconvente on Sat Mar 31, 2012 at 08:50:20 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  how about trains into the urban area.... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Cartoon Peril

        .... and then smaller delivery trucks?

        Tractor trucks are ideally suited to take large amounts of material from a factory to the closest major rail head, so that large containers can go across states by train.

        Why we still have so many trucks driving multi-state trips is a mystery too me. In Europe all that stuff goes by train.

        Is there no major train depot for shipments into Manhattan?

    •  Atlanta is an excellent case (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cartoon Peril, adrianrf, ybruti

      for not building more roads.  It is an absolute night mare of concrete and suburbia stretching nearly to the Tennessee border.

      More roads promote urban sprawl which is a cancer that has eaten up our land and our society since the early 1950's.  We need to look no further than Atlanta for a great example of urban sprawl.

      "Growing up is for those who don't have the guts not to. Grow wise, grow loving, grow compassionate, but why grow up?" - Fiddlegirl

      by gulfgal98 on Sat Mar 31, 2012 at 08:33:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Portland has a European housing price structure (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Old Lefty, varro, Angie in WA State

      Very expensive downtown, and cheaper the farther out you go.

      Grab a real estate map of Portland, put in parameters "less than X dollars" for a housing price, and you will get a doughnut shape (a squashed doughnut, to be sure, because of the geography). The lower the value of X, the wider the doughnut.

      And the farther away from Voodoo Doughnuts you will have to live!

      (Voodoo Doughnuts = the most successful business ever run by a pot-head)

      Sometimes . . . I feel . . . like a redneck with chopsticks . . . Dreaming of squirrel while I'm sucking down squid . . .

      by Pale Jenova on Sat Mar 31, 2012 at 10:03:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  For some perspective (17+ / 0-)

    Born in PDX in '54, I'm now in NorCal, having spent time in many cities in many states and countries in the interim. I chose the bicycle as my primary mode of transportation in the late 60's and have rolled along all those streets and avenues you mention as well as most of those you don't starting then and off and on since.  In the context of this post, my recent 3 year stint in Las Vegas 'springs' to mind.

    With the exception of the 4 months of pelting sideways 40 degree rain, I loves me some PDX architecture, streets, people and most of all I love to see how 40 years of consistent, enlightened urban planning driven for the most part by popular consensus is such a beautiful, practical, positive and, in the ancient sense a 'civil' good.

    I am most familiar with the Northwest section of the city, having lived down river and can recall in intimate detail how parts of the old industrial area there have been transformed from a blighted wasteland to a vibrant 24 hour a day neighborhood with artsy street level shops, public parks and squares, and steel, brick and frosted glass apartments above. The entire city and the hinterlands out in some cases 30 and 40 miles are connected with an efficient bus system that feeds in to the city center along the Willamette River where you can hop on the Maxx electric train that ties the airport in to the city and well out into the suburbs to the north and east. And a beautiful old brick Victorian style train station along the riverfront anchors the local public transportation system to regional rail.

    Of course, Portland is not perfect but Vegas from the urban planning perspective is a fine example of a polar opposite; a ring of freeway more or less bisected north-south and east-west by feeder freeways that tie into four and six lane feeder avenues that tie finally into neighborhood scale two and four lane grids with very sparse, slow public buses for the wheel-less. Its actually not a bad arrangement for any cyclist willing and able to deal with the temperatures, but otherwise its pretty much drive or die.

    There are no neighborhoods at all in the Portland sense of the word. There are miles and miles of 6 and 10 foot high walls everywhere except in the poor areas. The Strip is familiar to many, but venture out just a few blocks east or west and it can be a true Blade Runner experience unless you've got a nice walled compound to flee into. Lovely.

    You don't have to go as far as Vegas to find other good examples of how not to build a city Vancouver , in fact IMHO Portland is the finest example of urban planning for a city of its size in the country.

    The perfect has not been the enemy of the good and the good is far from perfect but it is really impressive what people can do together when they stick to their principles, have a coherent plan and strategy and let that guide tactics over an extended period of time in the service of the common good. Now if only the Democratic party could come up with a coherent plan and strategy and apply it over time in the service of the common good........

    In closing I can't fail to shout out to the Portland bike system and bike culture, excellent!

    "Liberals support..... constitutionalism, liberal democracy, free and fair elections, human rights, capitalism, and the free exercise of religion." Wikipedia. And that's bad how?

    by Old Lefty on Fri Mar 30, 2012 at 04:36:56 PM PDT

    •  thank you, I was in Vegas very briefly 5 years ago (6+ / 0-)

      and it was just hell to drive.  The freeways were like racetracks, and they seemed to be sunk in trenches.  I drove from there out to Kingman Arizona across the Hoover Dam (you can't do that anymore) and Vegas just seemed to never end, all low density, all new, all accessible only by automobile.

      You have exactly 10 seconds to change that look of disgusting pity into one of enormous respect!

      by Cartoon Peril on Fri Mar 30, 2012 at 05:08:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Four miles past the dam (5+ / 0-)

        on the Arizona side you can take a fantastic 2 mile hike down to the river then back up a narrow canyon, climb a 20' high steel ladder through a warm waterfall and find Arizona Hot Springs tucked down 300' inside a 12' wide slot canyon where a group of locals replace the sandbags after every flash flood to build 3 or 4 40-50 foot long hot pools. Nothing like it to wash away the urban grime, spiritual as well as physical.

        I cycled out there several times while the bridge was under construction, sometimes returning to Vegas late at night. Nothing quite like riding across the Hove Dam at 3 AM. Now I'm going back to ride the bridge.

        "Liberals support..... constitutionalism, liberal democracy, free and fair elections, human rights, capitalism, and the free exercise of religion." Wikipedia. And that's bad how?

        by Old Lefty on Fri Mar 30, 2012 at 05:55:22 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  There's a little Tom McCall in your writing... (8+ / 0-)

      But I wouldn't disagree for a minute:

      With the exception of the 4 months of pelting sideways 40 degree rain...
      The rain! Oh hell you don't even want to experience it!

      Pelting!

      Fucking sideways!

      And 40 degrees? Not where I am. It is much, much colder. And, didn't we both mention it is fucking pelting? Yes, yes we did.

      So...come visit. But bring an umbrella so we can tell you're a visitor. And then leave.

      Or not.

      Hell, we've got a bit more room.

      Just try to adjust.

      (Hint, more fun has seldom been had  than riding a good bike in Oregon while wearing appropriate rain-gear).

      And when the sun shines, there is nothing so glorious.

      •  I wear Shower Pass gear and ride a Trek Portland, (6+ / 0-)

        my friend and sincerely appreciate the comparison to Tom McCall however undeserved and even with the 'but' appended. I've paid the 40 degree 40 mph tax on most of the major and many of the minor roads between Crater Lake and Mt. Rainier and from the Olympic Penninsula to San Francisco so I do know the (not to be too poetic) piercing joy of a high sweat in a driving rain, teeth bared like a madman as the great Pacific hurls itself upon Cannon Beach. Woo Hoo! And the gear I had back then was, to say the least, more modest and far less functional than what I have now.
        I look forward to coming up this spring or summer but I doubt I can ever match riding from the town of St. Helens to Eugene the day after the July 22, 1980 eruption of Mt. St. Helens, 35 miles west of the town. In town and along Hwy. 30 the ash was about a foot deep and fine as pastry flower and climbing Cornelius Pass was one of the most dangerous and foolish things I've ever done. At some point I recall telling myself "this is stupid, but it will make one hell of a story". The ash finally petered out around McMinville, I was alive, very dusty and in fact had one hell of a story that takes up no room at all in my panniers.

        "Liberals support..... constitutionalism, liberal democracy, free and fair elections, human rights, capitalism, and the free exercise of religion." Wikipedia. And that's bad how?

        by Old Lefty on Sat Mar 31, 2012 at 03:27:56 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Try riding a motorcycle in a dress in the rain. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Cartoon Peril, peachcreek

        The docs where I worked as a lab tech laughed thier asses off to see me ride up on my Honda 90 in snow or rain... I could ride across Eugene  (18 miles) to the office for less then a $1 a week. Eugene of course has an excellant bus system , always has had as long as anyone I know remembers.

        This year is exceptional at the level of the Willamette through Eugene...

        We chase sunshine on days that we are desperate LOL.

        Proud Slut...Fear is the Mind Killer

        by boophus on Sun Apr 01, 2012 at 12:58:16 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Quack (0+ / 0-)

          U of O '77-'82, got a great big nasty scar on my right elbow from going a little too fast one moonlit night down by Pre's Trail. The bike/run/millrace/Willamette River systems are a real treasure and a great example of progressive urban planning, a good deal of which came came out of the School of Architecture which I attended back before I had quite figured  what Ayn Rand was really all about.

          You paint a funny picture with proudly flapping and no doubt slutty skirt. Apropos of which devinerush I give you a Devine Rush.

          Just getting a handle on the knobs and dials.... Hey, don't touch that!

          by Old Lefty on Mon Apr 02, 2012 at 03:26:47 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Last year, (5+ / 0-)

      my husband and two buddies took a two week bicycle trip from Seattle to Bellingham, then east over the mts and then south down to the Columbia River into Portland.  My husband had visited Portland before, but this was a first time via bicycle.  He had very high praise for the bike system there and for being able to safely ride into Portland and throughout Portland.

      "Growing up is for those who don't have the guts not to. Grow wise, grow loving, grow compassionate, but why grow up?" - Fiddlegirl

      by gulfgal98 on Sat Mar 31, 2012 at 08:43:33 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Roots grow down and out (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        gulfgal98, Cartoon Peril, KenBee

        As the tree up it grows, yeess it does. And I can think of no better way to nourish my me-child that hopping on a bicycle. The Cascades are rock and Portland rolls, both on two wheels.

        "Liberals support..... constitutionalism, liberal democracy, free and fair elections, human rights, capitalism, and the free exercise of religion." Wikipedia. And that's bad how?

        by Old Lefty on Sat Mar 31, 2012 at 11:23:26 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Infrastructure: jobs per dollar. (11+ / 0-)
    Overall we find that bicycling infrastructure creates the most jobs for a given level of spending: For each $1 million, the cycling projects in this study create a total of 11.4 jobs within the state where the project is located. Pedestrian-only projects create an average of about 10 jobs per $1 million and multi-use trails create nearly as many, at 9.6 jobs per $1 million. Infrastructure that combines road construction with pedestrian and bicycle facilities creates slightly fewer jobs for the same amount of spending, and road-only projects create the least, with a total of 7.8 jobs per $1 million.
    http://www.peri.umass.edu/...

    "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

    by HeyMikey on Fri Mar 30, 2012 at 10:41:05 PM PDT

  •  I would walk everywhere if I could. (8+ / 0-)

    Currently I drive 20 miles to and from work, and I hate it.
    The 405 Freeway sometimes makes it better, but not really.
    It's on;y real advantage is that it follows the coast diagonally while all of the other streets in the OC go East West or North South.

    I walk my son to school before I drive to work. My daughter takes the bus.
    I envy them.

    Thank you for the diary.

    Please Vote for the Democratic nominee for President in 2012.

    by mungley on Sat Mar 31, 2012 at 12:32:03 AM PDT

  •  I HATE the architecture. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cedwyn, lorzie, native

    HATE HATE HATE cheap aluminum window frames on those overpriced condos that plague Portland.

    9-11 changed everything? Well, Katrina changed it back.

    by varro on Sat Mar 31, 2012 at 12:42:01 AM PDT

    •  you and me both (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lorzie, varro

      very european, not that there's anything wrong with that.  but it just doesn't match the old portland style.  and they lack warmth.

      Never forget that the Republican War on Women originated with religion; the GOP is but theocracy's handmaiden.

      by Cedwyn on Sat Mar 31, 2012 at 06:18:37 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I like the Chicago-style six-flat.... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Cedwyn

        ....for city apartment buildings.  Brick, with concrete lintels.  Solid, yet inviting and dignified.

        The current architecture (just see ANY new condo development) looks cheap and flimsy - probably a ton of Chinese wallboard behind there.

        9-11 changed everything? Well, Katrina changed it back.

        by varro on Sat Mar 31, 2012 at 11:35:37 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I agree, but hate is a strong word (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cartoon Peril, Old Lefty

      I do not see why they cannot build mixed use buildings and at least try to make them blend in with the existing architecture.

      Where ignorance is our master, there is no possibility of real peace. - Dalai Lama

      by kimoconnor on Sat Mar 31, 2012 at 07:34:19 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  One word; cost (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        liberte, KenBee

        As a designer and builder of public spaces I know for a fact that no matter what you do somebody's gonna HATE it. Here's an example just down the river in St. Helens, where they now do this on what used to  be a broken glass encrusted embankment. After a year long construction project utilizing 90% private funding we had a dedication ceremony attended by all the local Luminaries and a prominent Judge told me when I asked what he thought "It was better before".

        Inertia is a powerful force and taste is, ah, idiosyncratic, in my experience. Put yourself at the drawing tables in the position of the designers of Portland's new face and I can personally guarantee you that your principle satisfaction will not come from having made everybody happy, it will come from having created a durable public good or not at all.

        Just sayin'

        "Liberals support..... constitutionalism, liberal democracy, free and fair elections, human rights, capitalism, and the free exercise of religion." Wikipedia. And that's bad how?

        by Old Lefty on Sat Mar 31, 2012 at 12:10:50 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  At least they banned "snout houses" (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lorzie, KenBee

      You know, those GARAGES with tiny living quarters in the back. Up and down the sidewalk-less streets on both sides: GARAGE doors!

      Freaking nightmares.

      Don't let the garage door hit you . . .

      Sometimes . . . I feel . . . like a redneck with chopsticks . . . Dreaming of squirrel while I'm sucking down squid . . .

      by Pale Jenova on Sat Mar 31, 2012 at 09:54:46 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  See above.... (0+ / 0-)

        .....I like the brick apartment buildings of back east, as well as townhouses that are narrow, but three-story, with the garage/basement as the first floor.

        They should ban the ugly new condos like on Mississippi, Hawthorne, and Belmont.

        9-11 changed everything? Well, Katrina changed it back.

        by varro on Sat Mar 31, 2012 at 11:37:40 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I thought Occupy Portland (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      varro

      should have made the case to stay in the parks because, averaged with the neighboring (and ghastly) Portland building, their camps improved the look of the city architecture.

      Sometimes . . . I feel . . . like a redneck with chopsticks . . . Dreaming of squirrel while I'm sucking down squid . . .

      by Pale Jenova on Sat Mar 31, 2012 at 10:00:32 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Notice that the cops immediately went in.... (3+ / 0-)

        ...when Occupy Portland threatened to occupy the Pearl (Jamison Park).

        You do not contaminate the beautiful minds of the Pearl People with the realities of life.  They must live in their exclusive bubble of expensive sustainability, all the while people scrape to survive in a very un-green manner.

        9-11 changed everything? Well, Katrina changed it back.

        by varro on Sat Mar 31, 2012 at 11:39:32 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Very dissatisfied with Portland. (6+ / 0-)

    Portland is a city where workers are grossly underpaid compared to the expenses of the city, particularly housing expenses.

    The Portland Tribune explained it this past summer, where a survey of expenses in a number of major cities showed Portland's income is below the median, but expenses are well above the median.  (For comparison, Seattle's expenses were above Portland, but salaries matched the expenses.)

    I'm concerned about the unsustainability of the city and the displacement of working-class people from the city, with it becoming a playground for profligate upper-middle-class and higher people.  

    9-11 changed everything? Well, Katrina changed it back.

    by varro on Sat Mar 31, 2012 at 12:53:05 AM PDT

    •  That's an excellent point (6+ / 0-)

      New housing development needs to be both mixed use and mixed income.  

      I live in Rome (which does have a freeway, called the Olimpico and the tangenziale, that just skirts the historic center of the city) and I'm teaching two classes on the city's architectural and urban history.

      In the late 1910s, with the growth of the city as the new capital of a united Italy, there was an enormous problem in finding housing for workers and for the indigent who were living in shacks outside the ancient city walls.  A neighborhood called Garbatella was designed according to the English "Garden City" model.  One of the interesting things about the neighborhood is not only the way building sizes and functions were mixed, but also the recognition that people of varying income levels should live together.  So, there was humble, subsidized housing together with larger apartments that could be purchased by Rome's middle class residents.  

      Unfortunately, Mussolini's urban planners altered this scheme, using the unbuilt areas to build "hotels" (temporary housing) for people being thrown out of houses in the neighborhoods torn down to make room for Mussolini's grandiose propagandistic works in the city center.  

      So, Garbatella had the reputation for being a "popular" (working class) neighborhood until about 30 years ago, when a process of gentrification began.  It now really does have a nice mixed-income environment.

      •  and rome's metro (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Cartoon Peril, varro

        is utterly useless unless you're headed in the very narrow directions of its simple X design. just contrast with paris or london. but then it's almost impossible to get permits for construction in downtown rome.

        The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

        by Laurence Lewis on Sat Mar 31, 2012 at 08:52:44 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Quite a lot of work has been done by the (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      marykk, adrianrf, Old Lefty, KenBee

      Portland Housing Bureau (see link) with the objective of having low-income housing available throughout the city, and not just rentais, but ownership as well.

      You have exactly 10 seconds to change that look of disgusting pity into one of enormous respect!

      by Cartoon Peril on Sat Mar 31, 2012 at 05:38:49 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  that would be (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      paxpdx, lorzie, varro

      the evils of gentrification.

      Never forget that the Republican War on Women originated with religion; the GOP is but theocracy's handmaiden.

      by Cedwyn on Sat Mar 31, 2012 at 06:20:12 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Which is worse? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Cartoon Peril

        Gentrification or decay. In the world of engineering and design we are constrained by physics, regulation, oversight, economics, politics and practicality to name but a few of the limits implicit in actually building cities. Theory and aesthetics are necessary and good in principle but their execution, in the real world will always be limited, imperfect and have unintended consequences. As messy as it is, I recommend the practice.

        "Liberals support..... constitutionalism, liberal democracy, free and fair elections, human rights, capitalism, and the free exercise of religion." Wikipedia. And that's bad how?

        by Old Lefty on Sat Mar 31, 2012 at 12:20:45 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  gentrification is only occasionally about decay (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Cartoon Peril

          its usual pattern is:  bohemians/freaks concentrate in the cheap parts of town. those places become hip.  suddenly, it's all "hot" and no longer affordable to those who made the place desirable.  

          so the bohemians get priced out and move somewhere else and the cycle begins anew.

          Never forget that the Republican War on Women originated with religion; the GOP is but theocracy's handmaiden.

          by Cedwyn on Sat Mar 31, 2012 at 06:09:28 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yes and (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Cartoon Peril

            no. On the surface this is clearly true, and if it were the only dynamic at play it would be a more informative point. But, if I might say as a 'Bohemian/freak' myself by any definition but perhaps that of others of the same ilk, 'Bohemians/freaks' occupy space within a larger social and political context, which, by and large is deemed regressive, oppressive and 'the enemy' within the B/F world view. To me this smells like identity politics with the aim of ennobling the community as the holders of a higher wisdom.

            IMHO, wisdom and worthiness reside outside any single community and any community that chooses isolation from and un-nuanced rejection of its wider context will make itself irrelevant over time.

            "Liberals support..... constitutionalism, liberal democracy, free and fair elections, human rights, capitalism, and the free exercise of religion." Wikipedia. And that's bad how?

            by Old Lefty on Sat Mar 31, 2012 at 09:11:55 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  I'm confused...where do those "profligate (5+ / 0-)

      upper-middle-class" people get all that money? Usually people like that do work, at least into their 30s or 40s, perhaps as consultants or as owners of their own companies, but they do "work"... The problem of gentrification in places like that is most likely due to the fact that the city is a very desirable place to live, situated in a country where national policy is tilted towards a reverse-Robin-Hood redistribution of income from those with less towards those with more. Under the circumstances, anything nice ends up in the hands of those with more money.

      "All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out." --I.F. Stone

      by Alice in Florida on Sat Mar 31, 2012 at 07:10:00 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Right (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Old Lefty, soros, Flying Goat

        In Boston, the top 20% of income earners make over $111k per year.

        I take exception to the idea of 'profligacy', those of us in that category spent years and tons of effort building a skill set that allows us to make that kind of money. And those people still go to work every day, pay bills, have financial problems analogous to those had by other people, etc.

        (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
        Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

        by Sparhawk on Sat Mar 31, 2012 at 08:56:17 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  What are the rules there about new housing? (0+ / 0-)

      Are developers required to include low or moderate level housing or can they just build expensive condos?

      Where ignorance is our master, there is no possibility of real peace. - Dalai Lama

      by kimoconnor on Sat Mar 31, 2012 at 07:36:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  depends which part of town (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cartoon Peril

      there are mixed income neighborhoods all over portland. compare with a city like san francisco.

      The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

      by Laurence Lewis on Sat Mar 31, 2012 at 08:54:30 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  That's what I'm afraid of.... (0+ / 0-)

        ....Portland becoming totally unaffordable for the working and middle class, while being taken over by the upper-middle-class and the desperately poor.  

        The mixed-income neighborhoods are being pushed out beyond 82nd, into what the African-Americans who used to live in inner NE and N call "The Numbers" and into Gresham.  

        I'd prefer to live in eastern unincorporated Washington County (near Sunset High School - that area) or along the MAX line in that area, but I own a house in Woodlawn, where the gentrification hasn't hit (we fought off most of an ugly bike-centric scuplture/bike rack the city tried to foist on us), but property values have skyrocketed.

        9-11 changed everything? Well, Katrina changed it back.

        by varro on Sat Mar 31, 2012 at 11:31:21 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Is the traffic horrible on regular streets now? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cartoon Peril, FG, lorzie

    Frankly my city needs another freeway...the two-lane thoroughfares are choked death traps all day M-F.

    But if not, I definitely see where you're coming from on this. I'm a big proponent of the "halo" model where the freeways are around the outskirts of the city (with MAYBE one across the diameter) so the city is free of just through-traffic or 70,000 highways.

    Today, strive to be the person you want to be.

    by GoGoGoEverton on Sat Mar 31, 2012 at 05:28:41 AM PDT

  •  Highways are necessary but their use inside the (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cartoon Peril, Cedwyn, marykk, Old Lefty

    city core should definitely be limited. Baltimore had similar story with I-83.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/...

    Last 5 miles of it were not built b/c it would have destroyed a historic neighborhood. And it looks like it was a great idea. But it's impossible for cities to exist without highways since most cities have no public transportation to speak of linking them to suburbs.

    •  portland's rail goes deep into the suburbs (7+ / 0-)

      and people told them they were crazy for it back in the day.  

      Never forget that the Republican War on Women originated with religion; the GOP is but theocracy's handmaiden.

      by Cedwyn on Sat Mar 31, 2012 at 06:21:29 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Pittsburgh, where I grew up.... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Cartoon Peril, Cedwyn

        ....had a trolley line into the south suburbs that was converted to light rail in the 80s.

        I grew up there, and it was easy for me to go downtown or to the Civic Arena or Three Rivers Stadium by light rail - dad would just drop me off at the station, which was a mile or so from my house, and pick me up after the game.  

        9-11 changed everything? Well, Katrina changed it back.

        by varro on Sat Mar 31, 2012 at 12:08:10 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I lived on Squirrel hill in the 60's, it was a (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          varro, Cedwyn

          fine neighborhood, high density, lots of families, right next to Frick Park and the famous blue side.  Very much my idea of a good neighborhood.

          You have exactly 10 seconds to change that look of disgusting pity into one of enormous respect!

          by Cartoon Peril on Sat Mar 31, 2012 at 12:35:24 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Bethel Park here, in the 70s and 80s. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Cartoon Peril, Cedwyn

            It (along with Mt. Lebanon) has a downtown along a main street with the light rail running through it.  I think Bethel should develop some of the neigborhood around the light rail more - it does have local businesses along Brightwood Road near the municipal building/library.  

            My dad grew up in Greenfield, and my parents lived on Beechwood Blvd. before they moved to Bethel before I was born.  Squirrel Hill isn't as jammed together as I see the new Portland development, though.

            9-11 changed everything? Well, Katrina changed it back.

            by varro on Sat Mar 31, 2012 at 02:22:45 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  I watched it all unfold (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Cartoon Peril, Cedwyn, boophus

        And I've been to at least 100 counter examples of development. I'm obviously biased, and damn but its hard to show people what it might have been otherwise. Portland took a sharp left from the mainstream of American Urban Planning beginning in the mid sixties due to the influence, in part of both Portland State University and U of O academics and theorists and the courage and vision of some local politicians as well as a growing public consensus.

        Play Sim City in your head with Portland circa 1965 and run it forward on the course it was following then, but without the sharp left. What has been accomplished speaks for itself, is far from ideal and still a work in progress. Its SPICY too.

        "Liberals support..... constitutionalism, liberal democracy, free and fair elections, human rights, capitalism, and the free exercise of religion." Wikipedia. And that's bad how?

        by Old Lefty on Sat Mar 31, 2012 at 12:39:32 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  For at least 25 years there was a group called (5+ / 0-)

          1000 Friends of Portland that worked hard to implement a new vision for the city.  In the early 90s when we were unsuccessfully fighting a new freeway in Fresno, CA, we studied what Portland had been able to do and often referred to it. We even formed a group (1000 Friends of Fresno) that is still working to improve the downtown area.

          The spirit of liberty is the spirit which is not too sure that it is right. -- Judge Learned Hand, May 21, 1944

          by ybruti on Sat Mar 31, 2012 at 01:52:56 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  I would think most big cities (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cartoon Peril, Egalitare, adrianrf, varro

      would have public transportation going to the suburbs.

      You might need to drive to the station, but that is better than driving all those cars into a city, no?

      Where ignorance is our master, there is no possibility of real peace. - Dalai Lama

      by kimoconnor on Sat Mar 31, 2012 at 07:39:51 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  After the 1989 earthquake here in SF (7+ / 0-)

    the city made a great decision to eliminate parts of freeways that cut through the city.

    The Embarcadero has become beautiful without the raised highway!

    I only wish the developers here would be more limited on how much parking they add to new housing. I am all for encouraging new residents that prefer to use public transport and zipcar or taxis.

    Where ignorance is our master, there is no possibility of real peace. - Dalai Lama

    by kimoconnor on Sat Mar 31, 2012 at 07:29:17 AM PDT

  •  Hmm... mixed feelings (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cartoon Peril, lorzie, varro

    As a Portlander who recently (and likely temporarily - four more years or so) relocated to the SF Bay Area, it's always sweet to see photos of home. If I take a magnifying glass to the freeway shot, I might even be able to see my house there. I didn't sell it when I moved, but my dad moved into it and is gardening and keeping it up in his retirement.

    But all of the shots along Alberta and other parts of North Portland hide social consequences that aren't noted - the dispersal and diaspora of  Portland's black community. Many of those neighborhoods were built for shipworkers during WWII, and what was originally simply social segregation gradually built up to be a thriving cultural center, one of the few neighborhood areas in Oregon that wasn't majority-white. It is no accident that both Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Rosa Parks Way are in, and intersect in North Portland. Especially in the past decade, though, the growth of "Alberta Arts" and "the Mississippi District" have gentrified those pockets of the city, and driven away many families who had been there for at least a couple of generations.

    I attended one community meeting shortly before moving to California where community leaders and neighbors were trying to explain to newcomers - many 20-something and young 30-somethings with dogs - why all of the big dogs in the neighborhood were intimidating and disquieting to the African American community. The images of dogs being turned loose against civil rights protesters are visceral in the minds of many people of color, but aren't often even noticed by the white progressives. "But my dog is friendly!" It was a heartbreaking meeting. (It was part of a series that made the front page of the NYTimes.)

    So yes - some of the traffic planning and population density decisions have made Portland more liveable - for white progressives, especially. The consequences for many others, though, aren't nearly so pleasant.

    Sorry for injecting a bit of a downer note, but many of us long-time Portlanders especially see the very negative consequences that have come from this "renewal". I love Portland, but it's in spite of everything that's made "Portlandia" so popular, not because of it. I'm really saddened by what it's become.

    "I like to go into Marshall Field's in Chicago just to see all the things there are in the world that I do not want." M. Madeleva, C.S.C.

    by paxpdx on Sat Mar 31, 2012 at 08:28:27 AM PDT

    •  Not to mention.... (0+ / 0-)

      ....the city ramming through the expansion of the bike lane on N. Williams Avenue to satisfy the Mississippi hipsters at the expense of the residents.

      9-11 changed everything? Well, Katrina changed it back.

      by varro on Sat Mar 31, 2012 at 12:11:39 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Neat diary (4+ / 0-)

    I'm roommates with two city planning masters students at Penn now, so that's why this caught my eye.  I must admit, planning is not my field (I'm a molecular biologist, hehe), but I've learned bits here and there from seeing my roommates' projects and such.

    I also have an interesting perspective when it comes to highways, being that my dad is a truck driver (35 years in service), so I understand how vital the Interstate system is to our economy.

    Which brings me to a point about your picture of I-5 at the top.  Your image legend suggests that you find that particular location of I-5 through Portland to be completely misguided.  But wasn't the original purpose of the Interstate system was to create a transportation system for cross state and country travel?

    That is, wasn't the system designed with a macro perspective in the first place?  Sure, that part of I-5 through Portland may have been able to be better located, but that's not that main point of the Interstate system; it's the total route of I-5 that matters (allowing people and most importantly goods to be transported from southern California to northern Washington).

    We definitely need more investment in public transit systems, but highways definitely serve a purpose (which is why I voted #3 in your poll).  Case in point - imagine if all thousands big truck deliveries had to travel the streets of NYC because the expansive highway system was never built?  It's hard enough traveling around NYC in a 18 wheeler even with all the highways.  Good luck having timely deliveries for your grocery stores and restaurants!

    "Give me a lever long enough... and I shall move the world." - Archimedes

    by mconvente on Sat Mar 31, 2012 at 08:33:51 AM PDT

    •  The trick is only to use big trucks... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cartoon Peril, adrianrf

      ...for 'last mile' deliveries. Smart urban planning would have most long range deliveries be by rail (or possibly air).

      (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
      Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

      by Sparhawk on Sat Mar 31, 2012 at 08:51:05 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  for the record (6+ / 0-)

    it was multnomah county commissioner (and portland state professor) ben padrow who first came up with the idea of tearing down the partially built mt. hood freeway and instead building mass transit corridors. goldschmidt got it done, but it was padrow's vision.

    The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

    by Laurence Lewis on Sat Mar 31, 2012 at 08:43:09 AM PDT

  •  Thanks for this diary (6+ / 0-)

    I live in Boston, where we banished I-93 from the city by moving it underground in the biggest construction project in history.

    Urban planning is hugely important so cities don't turn into horrible nightmares, especially now in the age of Peak Oil.

    I don't understand how people allow their cities and towns to be overrun by strip malls and similar horror shows.

    (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
    Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

    by Sparhawk on Sat Mar 31, 2012 at 08:48:47 AM PDT

  •  i just wish my suburb would opt in (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cartoon Peril, joe wobblie, adrianrf

    to public transportation.  it won't.  "brings in the wrong kind of people" according to our hispanic repub mayor.  

    whose canvassers i repeatedly and seriously tell to get away from my home!  makes me feel like a cranky old "get off  my lawn guy" but, heck, i don't have to listen to claptrap on my own property.

    this is north central texas, they loooove their huge cars, fast freeways and they want more of them.  it's a losing battle even when it's pointed out that people would get out and shop more if they didn't have to drive everywhere.

    Republicans ARE cooties!

    by labwitchy on Sat Mar 31, 2012 at 09:02:35 AM PDT

  •  Oh noes! Multi-use! Density! (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cartoon Peril, adrianrf, Old Lefty, KenBee

    This type of development is a target of tea partiers and conspiracy theorists. The UN is behind it, and the government will be taking over all the open land. Yes.

    Still, many public officials continue to blithely go along with the politically correct plan of Agenda 21 to encourage people to live in high-density communities, de-populate rural areas and fund financially unsustainable public transportation, among other goals.
    http://www.chattanoogan.com/...
    Since last spring, as this southwestern Colorado county considered a new comprehensive land-use plan, carnage has piled up. By mid-December, casualties included a fired planning commissioner, a resigned county planning director and the plan itself -- a 400-page document that took two years, $750,000 and 137 public meetings to produce....

    ...But perhaps most surprising was who emerged the untarnished victors: Activists who believe that smart growth, clustered development, smart meters and even bike paths are all part of a nefarious United Nations plot to rob citizens of their liberties.

    They may sound like folks on the fringe. But they are increasingly influential -- and they've sabotaged planning efforts nationwide.

    http://www.hcn.org/...

    from a bright young conservative: “I’m watching my first GOP debate…and WE SOUND LIKE CRAZY PEOPLE!!!!”

    by Catte Nappe on Sat Mar 31, 2012 at 10:18:26 AM PDT

  •  Vancouver is larges city in N America w/o freeways (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cartoon Peril, mconvente, Old Lefty

    It has its share of problems. Vancouver's east-west commute has a reputation for being awful. Yes they have the Sky Train but its route is very limited.

    Republicans take care of big money, for big money takes care of them ~ Will Rogers

    by Lefty Coaster on Sat Mar 31, 2012 at 10:40:25 AM PDT

  •  Detroit (my hometown) in the 50's (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cartoon Peril, citydem

    had good public transportation with trollies going all over the place. It was a very livable town. Then they carved up the city with expressways (as they were called) slicing in half old established neighborhoods like Polish town and lots of black neighborhoods that were poor but functional, not slums. You had to go for miles to get across one of the damn things, so essentially those communities were killed.

    Then they tore up all the old trolly lines and replaced (some of) them with bus lines that were not very reliable. The expressways accelerated "white flight" to the suburbs, causing property values to fall in the core city.

    It was all downhill from there. The long sad story of a once thriving city. It wasn't all on account of the expressways, but they played a big part in Detroit's decline.

    "Here's another nice mess you've gotten me into." - Oliver Hardy

    by native on Sat Mar 31, 2012 at 11:47:07 AM PDT

    •  Detroit has little congestion (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cartoon Peril

      so destroying the transit, degrading the street grid and building Billions of dollars on freeways succeeded in meeting the state of Michigan's goal of winning the battle against congestion. Congestion isn't a big problem in the motor city anymore.
      Actually congestion isn't all bad. It's like cholesterol; you have good cholesterol and bad and if you don't have any you die. Detroit needs some congestion, especially that produced by transit riders, bicyclists and pedestrians so it can become vibrant again. Freeways should be replaced with avenues and boulevards.Detroit's streetcar system at the end of WWII had more than 300 miles of track. Michigan should start restoring it.
        see http://www.cnu.org/...

      Cities are good for the environment

      by citydem on Sat Mar 31, 2012 at 08:26:56 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Great Diary and interesting topic! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cartoon Peril, citisven

    I have been writing a "fun with highways" series and I like the aesthetics of them, but also see the social and engineering benefits of not having them within urban environments.  The two cities I know best, San Francisco (where I live now) and New York (where I grew up) are good examples, with the removal of the Embarcadero Freeway and West Side Highway, respectively.

    The irony is that while I like the highways visually, I prefer to walk and take subways.

    •  Of course I'm not anti-highway or anti-car, I'm (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      citisven

      for a balanced approach, and I think it's been well shown over the years that punching freeways right through cities is a giant mistake.  

      Vancouver, BC was mentioned, I haven't been there in a long time, but as I recall, you just go along the freeway until it gets to the city, and then it just ends.

      You have exactly 10 seconds to change that look of disgusting pity into one of enormous respect!

      by Cartoon Peril on Sat Mar 31, 2012 at 12:47:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  My house was bought by the state (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cartoon Peril

    via eminent domain and resold when the freeway plan was canceled.
      Wherever it is I am...:>

    We have several stamped chunks, these stamps are often right at corners, and city workers were busily cutting them out to put in wheelchair accessible curbs and crosswalks, we asked, and for a few years, whenever they had one they would drop it off to us..and they weigh 75-150 lbs!

    Someone must have offered more beer, or the fella we used to know has died or something...stamps and old nonexistent street names...

    From those who live like leeches on the people's lives, We must take back our land again, America!...Langston Hughes

    by KenBee on Sat Mar 31, 2012 at 08:04:30 PM PDT

  •  Impressive Work (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cartoon Peril

    I especially like the maps. Other cities could learn a lot from how Portland has developed its neighborhoods, although it probably has more dirt roads than most counties.

    Maybe you could do a blog post on the building decorations. Portland has a lot of interesting buildings and I'd be interested to know some of the details. It wouldn't surprise me if a lot of the terracotta came from Gladding McBean in Lincoln, CA.

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