Foster’s neon lights inspire greenway improvement project

Unlikely inspiration for tactical urbanism.
(Images: Michael Geffel)

Michael Geffel had a novel inspiration behind his idea to connect the Center Street and Gladstone Street Neighborhood Greenways in southeast Portland: Neon lights.

A landscape architect and visiting professor at University of Oregon’s School of Architecture and Environment by day, Geffel’s idea is to use art to improve these greenways while creating safer streets and a stronger community identity.

His “Foster is Neon” project (PDF below) came together initially as an entrant into PBOT’s Portland in the Streets Community Grant program. Geffel and other supporters of his project wanted to improve wayfinding and safety between SE 52nd and 62nd, where the greenways meet in a confusing, zig-zagging mess. Not only is the route hard to follow, it also crosses SE Foster Road, a high-speed arterial. Geffel’s inspiration came from the many neon signs that still dot Foster corridor businesses like George Morlan Plumbing Supply, Mt. Scott Fuel, Devil’s Point, and others.

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