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Greater Portland

Greater Portland: Urban Life and Landscape in the Pacific Northwest

Copyright Date: 2001
Pages: 248
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  • Book Info
    Greater Portland
    Book Description:

    Selected byChoicemagazine as an Outstanding Academic Title for 2001

    It has been called one of the nation's most livable regions, ranked among the best managed cities in America, hailed as a top spot to work, and favored as a great place to do business, enjoy the arts, pursue outdoor recreation, and make one's home. Indeed, years of cooperative urban planning between developers and those interested in ecology and habitability have transformed Portland from a provincial western city into an exemplary American metropolis. Its thriving downtown, its strong neighborhoods, and its pioneering efforts at local management have brought a steady procession of journalists, scholars, and civic leaders to investigate the "Portland style" that values dialogue and consensus, treats politics as a civic duty, and assumes that it is possible to work toward public good.

    Probing behind the press clippings, acclaimed urban historian Carl Abbott examines the character of contemporary Portland-its people, politics, and public life-and the region's history and geography in order to discover how Portland has achieved its reputation as one of the most progressive and livable cities in the United States and to determine whether typical pressures of urban growth are pushing Portland back toward the national norm.

    InGreater Portland, Abbott argues that the city cannot be understood without reference to its place. Its rivers, hills, and broader regional setting have shaped the economy and the cityscape. Portlanders are Oregonians, Northwesteners, Cascadians; they value their city as much for where it is as for what it is, and this powerful sense of place nurtures a distinctive civic culture. Tracing the ways in which Portlanders have talked and thought about their city, Abbott reveals the tensions between their diverse visions of the future and plans for development.

    Most citizens of Portland desire a balance between continuity and change, one that supports urban progress but actively monitors its effects on the region's expansive green space and on the community's culture. This strong civic participation in city planning and politics is what gives greater Portland its unique character, a positive setting for class integration, neighborhood revitalization, and civic values. The result, Abbott confirms, is a region whose unique initiatives remain a model of American urban planning.

    eISBN: 978-0-8122-0414-8
    Subjects: Population Studies, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-VI)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. VII-VIII)
    (pp. IX-XII)

    The Metropolitan Portraits Series seeks to understand and describe contemporary metropolitan regions in a fresh manner—one that is informed and informative. Carl Abbott was among the first to answer the call to become part of the Metropolitan Portraits series, and I am grateful for his belief in this effort. This book shares a common thematic structure that will suffuse the series: the inherited land and its contemporary reworking, the effects of important external events, and the power and importance of local cultures. As more volumes emerge, it is hoped that comparisons of many city regions will be possible, despite...

  4. Introduction: Portland’s Historical Personality
    (pp. 1-16)

    In 1970 the City of Portland completed the Forecourt Fountain to local applause and national acclaim. Located in an urban renewal district near the southern edge of downtown, the fountain was a carefully crafted landscape that covered an entire city block. Although themselves outsiders to the city, designers Lawrence Halprin and Angela Danadjieva created a distinctive place that is emblematic of Portland’s approach to city making, for it holds in tension the distinct values of environmentalism and urbanism.

    Set between an office building and a parking garage, this oasis and refuge within the city anchors a series of open spaces...

  5. CHAPTER ONE Capital of the Columbia
    (pp. 17-74)

    Mount Hood hovers over Portland like a watchful god.

    The iconic view of many cities features a skyline or a manmade feature—an Eiffel Tower, Gateway Arch or Brandenburger Tor, Transamerica Tower or Empire State Building.

    In place of cathedral spire or capitol dome, Portland offers its natural setting. “The mountain is out,” we say when the winter clouds clear and Mount Hood shimmers white in the afternoon sun. Snowmelt from the mountain’s northwestern valleys flows pure and untreated through Portland water taps. We worry occasionally, when small tremors shake the still living volcano, that Hood may suddenly erupt as...

  6. CHAPTER TWO Everyday Portlands
    (pp. 75-128)

    The 1950s that I remember from my grade school years in Dayton, Ohio are alive and well in Portland. Kids walk to school and the branch library; neighborhood movie theaters show double features suitable for families; hardware stores, groceries, and florist shops still line old commercial streets. This is the city whose downtown and older neighborhoods remind many observers of a miniature Toronto.

    It is also the city of Henry Huggins, Ramona Quimby, and their friends on Klickitat Street and Tillamook Street. Henry and Ramona are the creations of Beverly Cleary. In fifteen children’s books published from 1950 (Henry Huggins)...

  7. CHAPTER THREE The Best Planned City?
    (pp. 129-198)

    In 1957 the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers put the finishing touches on The Dalles Dam, the second, counting upstream, of fourteen dams that block the main stem of the Columbia River. The Dalles Dam extended the reach of barge navigation upstream and tapped the stored force of the river for electricity. It is far less massive than Grand Coulee Dam and less important for regional development than Bonneville Dam, but it plays a central role in the narrative of the Pacific Northwest.

    A few miles upstream from the dam site, a great basalt dike created Celilo Falls, the beginning...

  8. Conclusion: Civic Opportunity
    (pp. 199-214)

    Seattle? Sure. But Indianapolis? Kansas City? Columbus?

    Portland on paper has an interesting set of peer cities. Take the nation’s second level metropolitan areas with populations of 1 to 3 million—pick a score of social and economic indicators such as percentage foreign-born, median educational attainment, industrial distribution of workers, and the like—and find the places whose socioeconomic profile resembles Portland.

    Despite obvious differences in style and tone, Seattle is a close match. Less expected as statistical siblings are cities along the American main street—the old National Road, U.S. 40, 1-70. Start on East Broad Street in Columbus...

  9. NOTES
    (pp. 215-228)
  10. INDEX
    (pp. 229-240)
    (pp. 241-242)