Portland Planning
Portland is considered one of the most livable cities in the U.S., due in large part to its urban planning. Despite its growth in population faster than most cities, it has been able to keep its high quality of life for its citizens. The Parks system, envisioned in 1904 by Frederick Law Olmsted as a "comprehensive system of parks and parkways", provided Portland with varied and beautiful connections to nature. Also in the 1890's to 1920's, many beautiful cast iron, terra cotta and stone and brick faced buildings were built in Portland's downtown core, designed by talented local architects. In the post Second World War II era, like most U.S. cities, downtown Portland fell victim to suburban sprawl and a partial exodus from center city. In the spirit of the time, to make the city supposedly work well for the automobile, New York planner Robert Moses was commissioned to plan a large freeway roadway system that would have decimated many neighborhoods. A significant part of his plan was built. In addition, in the 1950's and 1960's, large swaths of north and south Portland, were demolished for 'urban renewal'. In the downtown core, scores of historic buildings were demolished for parking lots. But Portland downtown's geographic location, character and the activism of its citizens in the late 1960's onwards turned the tide. Steps were taken in this era that have led to Portland's character today, with an active downtown, less sprawl than almost any other U.S. city, and a high quality of life. In the late 1960's, due to the efforts of governor Tom McCall, every Oregon city was required to determine an 'urban growth boundary', a measure that would preserve farmland and natural areas, while encouraging cities to densify their existing footprint as they grew. 'Between 1970 and 1980, Portland made a number of decisions that transformed the city by moving from automobile-oriented development to pedestrian and transit oriented development. The most important were: 1. Pioneer Square: In January, 1970 the Portland City Planning Commission voted to deny a permit to build a 12 story parking structure on Pioneer Courthouse Square. The site had been occupied by a two-story parking structure, and it is now an attractive, pedestrian oriented plaza. 2. Harbor Drive: In May, 1974, the state of Oregon closed Harbor Drive so it could use the land to build Tom McCall Waterfront Park, which would open up the waterfront to pedestrians, creating an important amenity for downtown. 3. Mount Hood Freeway: In summer, 1974, the Portland City Council killed the Mount Hood Freeway and instead used the freeway’s federal funding to build the downtown transit mall, eastside light rail, and other transit projects. This freeway was part of a plan to criss-cross Portland with freeways, drawn up by Robert Moses, and killing it also killed all the freeways that were to follow. 4. Comprehensive Land Use Plan: On October 16, 1980, the City Council adopted the Portland Comprehensive Land Use Plan, which established an urban growth boundary to stop sprawl and concentrated new development around public transportation stops. The comprehensive plan is best known of these decisions. But tearing down Harbor Drive and replacing it with Tom McCall Waterfront Park was also a key step in transforming Portland from a freeway-oriented city to a pedestrian oriented city.'1 The trend was set, and as Portland continues to grow, more housing gets built in downtown, much of it in the Pearl District, Lloyd Center, and west end; 100's of miles of bike trails and lanes are being built; transit continues to expand with new light rail lines and a larger streetcar system; the Parks system continues to expand, and the beautiful natural areas surrounding the city are accessible and preserved by the urban growth boundaries. 1. Preservation Institute. http://www.preservenet.com/freeways/FreewaysHarbor.html
Portland Public School students