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turning portland


Turning Portland skyline

The First Interstate Tower and Big Pink set a future that didn’t happen.

Concerned citizens got a break before turning Portland into mini-Seattle

One tall building was enough, or so the thought went, but two is better?

Because they’re bookends instead of standing side by side, the space between them look as ripe for in-fill as hillbilly’s broken grill.

That it didn’t happen sooner bodes well for keeping Portland clear of more towers. The vibe is more crown jewel than kingdom.

Now comes the building boom. The Oregon crown city is getting a few more jewels.

What will it look like four years from now? Seattle? San Francisco? It could be worse.


Turning Portland into a more tolerant place than San Francisco? There’s a news flash.

Check with Mayor Ted Wheeler the next time he books a hotel room when homeless activists target his house.

From naked bike rides, to the Pride Parade, to endless beer festivals, it might look oh so tolerant until you visit Waterfront Park at the wrong time and get worked.

Chinatown got a gateway, but the other ‘towns’ still wait for their close-up.

I’ve always felt exclusive titles like ‘—-town’ reek of segregation instead of culture, but maybe that’s just me.

Preservation and reuse

Since Portland is a known leader in cast iron architecture, it’ll be hard knocking those buildings down for new ones.

On a walk around downtown I’ve seen cast iron as urban art, bolted to implanted I-beams like a big metal tooth in the sidewalk.

That’s one way of dodging the threat of being crushed by the stuff in an earthquake.

Using the Pearl District as a guide, how many cities have spruced up a warehouse section near the train yards and charged top rent for empty nest couples looking for their ‘urban experience?’

The Pearl has come a long way from prime storage to prime loft-living.

Instead of a once upon a time transition between the bum-scape of Old Town and the once dive neighborhood of NW Portland in the 70’s and 80’s, it’s a destination.

Public transportation projects

A light rail bridge work crosses the Willamette south of the Ross Island bridge.

Now living in Milwaukie is cool.

Listen to the smart guys talk about riding bikes to a light rail stop connecting the Metro area.

Alternative transportation isn’t a hipster dream. Instead of a two hour commute every day eastside residents add more living to their day now.

Call it leadership, follow the leader, or just good luck, but Southeast Portland carries the torch for a better city of beer fests and naked bike rides.

Grid relief

Big city East Coast shows Portland with only one real city street.

The SW Park Blocks have bad parking and narrow streets for destinations that draw crowds.

Visitors from out of town, like Gresham, see the Park Blocks and freeze up. Every street isn’t big enough for a U-turn, so don’t try.

They may see everyone in Portland as a thug or a weirdo based on reputation.

That sort of word of mouth keeps people away.

Turning Portland Parks

A park named Forest Park, and it’s an actual forest, could use a new name, some Lewis and Clark magic.

Chain your bike up in Lower Macleay Park in NW Portland and walk the only trail you’ll find.

Stay to the left and you’ll eventually leave the claustrophobic canyons and come out in the parking lot of the Pittock Mansion and one of the best views of the city.

That walk shows what the West Hills used to look like.

For a different sight, ride your bike up NW Thurman until it turns into a gravel.

Take Leif Erikson Drive all the way to Skyline for a huge view of the westside suburbs.

Waterfront Park is the only example you need to see how much Portland loves its parks.

Pioneer Square might be Portland’s living room, but Waterfront Park is the backyard.


Old timers and historians know Portland as the one-time Stumptown.

A huge forest once sat on the banks of the Willamette, then the remains of a huge forest in the way of huge stumps.

Think Detroit Lake with low water.

How big? You can find ancient stumps in second growth clear cuts. Think redwoods, then scale back. That big.

Big trees cover the Park Blocks to create a green tunnel down the middle. More grow in NW Portland, lifting up sidewalks to keep the residents spry.

There are so many trees in Portland that leaf disposal is an institutionalized effort.

Over population turning Portland into a drive by city

If you’re in the middle of a big love affair with the city you’re turning Portland into a memory of what was.

Last year was different than the year before, and so one, and you’ve got the right to complain.

But you keep talking it up and people keep showing up.

The only way to stem that tide is talking Portland down.

One way is to visit Old Town on a Saturday night for the party.

Who are these people and why are they such a pain?

For the answer talk a drunk bro at midnight while they’re in full scream celebration of turning Portland into a place you want to avoid.

The real answer?

Too many people are turning Portland into a walk on the wild side.

Ask not for whom the bell tolls? Who?

About David Gillaspie
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