Transecting Portland’s Urbanism

September 30, 2012

“Transect” is a word given an additional usage by new urbanist planners to mean a continuum of neighborhood types ranging from the dense central city out to the increasing less dense edges of a region.

Today, returning from the East Portland Sunday Parkways, I rode home on the Springwater Trail and had the opportunity to transect Portland’s various flavors of urbanism, including:

  • A restoration project on Johnson Creek helping bring salmon back to the creek
  • The “Cartlandia” food cart pod – a bike-friendly oasis, complete with beer garden, on the very auto-centric 82nd Ave – where I had lunch (and I can’t see what all the fuss at City Council about the liquor license was about – it’s a very family-friendly environment)
  • Light industry and urban agriculture (Zenger Farm), side-by-side
  • The vibrant, built-in-the-streetcar-era urbanism of the Sellwood neighborhood
  • The amusing urbanism of Oaks Park, side-by-side with withe nature-in-the-city urbanism of Oaks Bottom
  • Kayakers enjoying Ross Island, just before I encountered our newest streetcar terminus and rail museum
  • A view of the downtown skyline from the Eastbank Esplande

We are truly blessed…


  1. You neglected to mention all the folks who call the Springwater Trail area home because of the flavor of Portland’s urbanism that promotes gentrification, no-cause eviction and housing that is unaffordable for far too many. Perhaps you could get a different perspective on how blessed we are if you’d stopped and talked to them, or had come to the Housing Justice community forum on Thursday night.

    • Fair enough, I did indeed ride past a camp on the Springwater, and of course there are others near the Esplanade. It’s a very real issue in our city.

  2. I’d caution against blanket assumptions about the folks camped on the Springwater. Some of the folks further east are houseless by choice during the summers. Many are houseless because they’ve burned through many housing options and can’t come to terms with their addiction issues in order to stay housed. The common denominator is their less likely to be disturbed on the eastern edge of the trail – by services, do-gooders, patrols etc.

    It isn’t all about housing availability. We also have to be able to come to terms with the fact that there will always be some people who live out of doors and aren’t able to conform to the norms of what society expects as far as choice of living arrangements and lifestyle.

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