Thursday, June 04, 2009

June 8 What's the Big Plan? (For Portland)

The Bright Light series is sponsored by the City Club of Portland and Portland Spaces magazine. It's a gathering spot for planners and architects to hear from speakers on planning and architecture.

Portland has had a series of "big plans". The 1904 Olmsted plan established Skyline, Terwilliger and Willamette Boulevards; Tryon Creek, Mt Tabor, Forest, Laurelhurst, Washington and other Parks, as well as Ladd's Addition. A 1932 plan proposed a Westside Waterfront Park and what became the urban growth boundary. Lewis Mumford's 1938 plan proposed a collective of Portland and surrounding towns, presaging Metro. The 1966 plan proposed a neighborhood orientation, eventually contributing to Portland's neighborhood associations; and now, the 20 minute walk goal for the distance between home and neighborhood services. The 1972 plan, influenced by the ideas of Jane Jacobs, led to the Transit Mall and Pioneer Courthouse Square replacing a parking garage. The 1988 plan resulted in the streetcar, the Pearl District, Eastbank Esplanade and large scale expansion of housing in the central city.

Of course not every aspect of these plans were carried out, that is the nature of the process. For instance, Robert Moses proposed a grid of Portland super highways in 1943 - the Going-Prescott Freeway, the East 30th Freeway, 82nd Avenue Freeway, McAdam Freeway, the Multnomah-Sellwood-Johnson Creek Freeway, St Helens Freeway and the SE Clinton-28th-Powell Freeway to Gresham, with convenient interchanges at 11th/12th, 39th, 52nd and 82nd. It was proposed to be an interstate highway. Luckily they were never built. (There is some controversy about exactly what Moses proposed and how the highway department adapted it, but this 1966 map of the Mt Hood Freeway is a monster!)

The result of all this planning, built and unbuilt, is one of the most livable cities in North America and an internationally known school of planning at PSU.

The Portland Planning Bureau has just merged with the Portland Sustainability Bureau. Susan Anderson, former head of the Sustainability Bureau, is now responsible for the combined bureau. What is her plan? How will it shape Portland as have previous "big plans"?

Find out this evening. (And for something completely different, the Village Building Convergence is going on now too)

Susan Anderson speaks at the Bright Lights Series. At Jimmy Mak's, 221 NW 10th. Doors 5:30PM, discussion 6. Free