Tag: Downtown

Five Historic Portland Neighborhoods Nearly Destroyed by Highway Projects

Five Historic Portland Neighborhoods Nearly Destroyed by Highway Projects

The rise of the automobile as the most common form of transportation after World War II made building highways a top post-war priority. As cities were connected by larger highways with higher capacities, and the suburbs blossomed on the edges of urban areas, the need for high-capacity corridors through major cities became more acute. Before 1950, most highways were routed on city streets in urban areas, streets that often were designed for a fraction of the traffic.

Lents Town Center

Historic postcard of downtown Lents, before annexation by Portland (image via Vintage Portland

With Eisenhower’s Interstate Highway plan, the die was cast. Urban planners such as Robert Moses saw their visions of grade-separated thoroughfares to carry traffic through cities quickly come to life. The promise of living in the idyllic suburbs and working in the city seemed to justify the cost. Unfortunately, as the first wave of construction tore through cities, it became apparent there was another cost. Historic neighborhoods, some over a hundred years old, were suddenly torn apart, divided by six to ten lanes of speeding traffic. It is hard to imagine how different life in these neighborhoods was before the freeways were built. Here are five examples of Portland neighborhoods that fell victim to the all-mighty automobile.

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Portlandia (the Statue) and The Portland Building

Portlandia (the Statue) and The Portland Building

Portlandia Statue - Side View

Portlandia Statue, viewed from the south

In 1980, Portland was planning a new building to house many of its public workers, and decided to hold a design competition (a fairly novel ideal at the time). The winner, famed architect (and designer of snazzy Target blenders) Michael Graves, produced what is considered the first major “postmodern” building, the Portland Building (apparently, a contest to name the building was not a priority). At the time, glass curtain boxes with little personality had begun to dominate urban skylines…Graves building was a strong, and many would say ill-considered, reaction to that movement. Using a variety of surfaces, colors and decorative flourishes, the building would definitely not be confused with the modern glass office towers nearby.

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Exploring Churches in Downtown Portland

Exploring Churches in Downtown Portland

Portland Korean Church, Portland, OR

Portland Korean Church from the west

When you think of Portland, religion may not be the first thing that springs to mind, but like most cities, a lot of Portland’s most interesting historical buildings are churches. I’ve been trying to capture as many as possible while walking around the city. In this post, we visit several churches in the southwest corner of downtown, generally in the area from the South Park Blocks to the Stadium Freeway (I-405). Almost all of the churches are over a hundred years old, and they display a wide variety of architectural styles and building materials.

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