There’s an intriguing idea at the bottom of The Oregonian’s nicely written piece today about folksinger Woody Guthrie’s ties to Portland.
The article (which is actually the last from former transportation reporter Joseph Rose, who’s headed to a job on the East Coast) focuses on the 30 intensely creative days the Oklahoma-born folksinger spent in a 400-square-foot apartment in Lents in spring 1941. It’s two blocks from the trail, and still available for rent today.
Guthrie was visiting for a one-month gig with the Bonneville Power Authority, which paid him $266.66 to write 26 songs promoting hydroelectric power on the Columbia. They turned out to include some of his enduring classics about the people who helped win World War II by industrializing the West Coast: “Roll On, Columbia,” “Grand Coulee Dam,” “Oregon Trail” and “Pastures of Plenty.”
Bike transportation is essential to the future of Portland. But every year it also becomes more and more a part of Portland’s history.
At a free event next week, a local biking writer and three Oregon biking advocates will meet up at a brewpub to talk about the history of biking in Portland — both its early heyday in the 1890s and the modern renaissance that began around 1970.
Then Mychal Tetteh of the Community Cycling Center, Rob Sadowsky of the Bicycle Transportation Alliance and Steve Schulz of Cycle Oregon will join a panel about the movement’s modern history. I’ll be moderating.
Part of NW Portland Week.
Thurman Street is the last neighborhood north where you can find the sort of stuff that, for a lot of people, make Portland Portland.
One block north of the Food Front Cooperative Grocery and the gluten-free bakery Dessert Labs, you hit the Holiday Inn Express. Then come the railroad tracks, warehouses, gravel distributors, floodplains and eventually just trees to the end of the earth, or at least to Scappoose.
Walking down Thurman Street itself is so rewarding that one of Portland’s most famous residents wrote a whole book about it. They keep a copy behind the reference desk at the branch library on NW 23rd and Thurman: Blue Moon over Thurman Street, published in 1993 by the novelist Ursula K. Le Guin and the photographer Roger Dorband.
What did cycling routes in Portland look like over 40 years ago? That’s something we’d never known until coming across this “From here to there by bicycle” map.
This is a guest post from Carl Larson, a Portland bike advocate and all-around bicycle culture Renaissance man. Amid many other bike-related activities including bike polo, World Naked Bike Ride, Mini Bike Winter, Zoobomb and Pedalpalooza, he’s worked for the Bicycle Transportation Alliance since 2008, currently as its engagement manager. The BTA is eliminating the job on Jan. 31.
“I feel sheepish about suggesting anyone would care about my memories but they’re not just mine,” Larson writes. “These highlights remind me of what a ride so many of us have been on and it’s been really fun to look back at some of them. It has helped me, and will hopefully help others, recognize the BTA at its best.”
This is the second in a three-part series. Read the first installment here.
For most of Portland’s history, the land we know today as the Lloyd District was best known for failure.
Holladay Park: named for a scoundrel who planted its trees and then gambled away his fortune. The state and federal buildings along Lloyd Boulevard: advance outposts of a government center that never arrived. And Lloyd himself: an oil multimillionaire who died all but cursing the city he’d fallen in love with 40 years before.
Most of Portland’s conversation about ways to create enough new homes to defuse our deep and ongoing housing shortage has focused on the four-story apartment buildings rising along a few main streets.
But there’s a growing awareness in Portland’s housing policy community that low-rise apartment buildings — let alone the taller buildings rising in the Lloyd, Burnside Bridgehead and Pearl — aren’t the only buildings that can increase the supply of housing in the walkable, bikeable parts of Portland. In fact, the other options might be more popular with neighbors, too.
The only problem: in almost all of Portland, creating such buildings is forbidden.
(Newspaper images: Oregonian archives at Multnomah County Library)
Slow-moving, prosperous and desirable arterial streets are nothing new; they’re just a return to the traditional ideas of our great-grandparents.
And here in Portland, a citywide goal to take public responsibility for traffic fatalities isn’t new, either. In the 1930s, as they felt their city changing fast, our great-grandparents’ generation responded with what became a nationally-known campaign that was strikingly similar to Vision Zero or the Dutch Stop de Kindermoord movement of the 1970s.
A group of Clinton Street fans are meeting at SE 30th and Division Saturday to plan a party this summer that will celebrate this iconic bike route and everything it’s brought to the mix of residential and commercial uses that have made Portland’s Hosford-Abernethy and Richmond neighborhoods what they are.