Oregon, The Free State
Oregon, The Free State
Oregon, The Free State
Portland is one of the most beautiful and efficient cities ever developed in the United States. It is surrounded by the rich soil and forestry as well as the mountains and rivers that Oregon has to offer. From personal experiences, I can tell you that it is one of the most breathtaking picturesque places in the Country. However, developers see this place as an asset to their financial prosperity rather than a peaceful place. They want to continue with the latest trend by developing more shopping complexes outside of the city. And not only that but, also destroy historical buildings downtown for an expressway. Oregon�s rich country and growth are becoming a threat to its own well being. That is why it is necessary for Oregon to continue with their zoning laws.
In attempt to rescue their city in 1978, they approved the nation�s first directly elected metropolitan government, which coordinated the growth-management plans of three counties and twenty-four municipalities in the Portland metropolitan region. This government set aside an area of 234,000 acres which would be solely used for developing for the next 20 years. Everything else would be left for nature. That government would also look over each development plan in that area before it was constructed. This ensured nothing would be too drastic and ruin the atmosphere of the city. As a matter of fact the city was developed so that no buildings would block the view of Mount Hood, and so that no skyscrapers would run up against the river�s edge.
Transportation was another problem for Oregon. The developers were constantly trying to demolish historic buildings to make way for freeways. Mayor Goldschmidt�s response was, �But in the rush to grab federal highway funds, cities built highways indiscriminately, against their long term interests, paving the way toward decentralization, disinvestment, and ultimate decay (Moe and Wilkie 220).� Instead, Portland wanted to do something else with their funds. Portland did not want little parking lots filling the city from all of the cars coming from the suburbs. Goldschmidt�s words were,
�We have a downtown plan, an economic study, that says don�t have these little, small postage-stamp lots. They�re bad for circulation. They�re bad for air quality. And they frustrate the parkers who expect to find parking when they get to these lots, but there isn�t any there (Moe and Wilkie).�
Instead they constructed a fifteen-mile light-rail line to the eastern suburbs in the 1980�s. It was free for the users in the downtown zone. Within fifteen years, employment rose from under 60,000 in 1970, to over 100,000 in 1995.
The restoration of downtown Portland was the key ingredient their success. Owners of downtown structures that were rotting were given a tax break on those buildings in order for the people to be able to afford restoring them. Then one developer and property owner, Bill Naito, donated a huge space of land right downtown for a Saturday Market. This Saturday Market gave people a chance to walk the streets and shop around for art, music, instruments, clothing, and other novelties. It brought the community together.
Though sprawl could not be avoided, it is possible to control it. Portland designed its outer suburbs so most things would be in walking distance. This would keep the city clean of autos and congestion.
From personal experience I can tell you that Portland is a city worth saving. Its downtown atmosphere welcomes you and gives you a comfortable setting. You can see the wonders of nature and breathe clean air while in the city. Everything is also accessible without a car. These things are not worth throwing away. Developers are trying to erase Portland�s identity and create another no-name metropolis which launders the own developer�s money. It is the same deal with the residents of the north Virginia Piedmont. These Virginians do not need a Disney theme park or the expressway that is attached to it. That historic land is there for a reason, for us to remember our past and keep our identity. When that is destroyed so is our heritage. People need to have pride in their environment, otherwise it will go to waste. Portland takes care of it is people and of its environment. That is why it is such a prosperous community. Many well-respected people have commented on the beauty of the city. Why let it be ruined for large buildings only to be made vacant in a matter of decades? The city has thrived successfully without the aid of major developments, thus demonstrating that major developments are not needed for every city. And Portland is a city that should stay free.
Moe, Richard and Wilkie, Carter. Changing Places. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1997.
Romell, Rick. �Portland Keeps Firm Grip on Growth.� Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 26 October 1997: 1A.