Monthly Archives: January 2010

Portland: Overrated?

Is Portland overrated? I’ve tried pitching the following words to the New York Times and the LA Times as an op-ed column, over the last few weeks. Needless to say, neither of them wanted it—they’re too busy running “Ra Ra Portland” pieces. And why not, when it sells advertising?
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Picture-Perfect Portland?

Portland is one of the most-praised cities in contemporary America. But is the hype real? To some extent, it actually understates the case.

Portland didn’t invent bicycles, density or light rail — but it understood the future implications of them for America’s smaller cities first, and put that knowledge to use before anyone else. The longest journey begins with a step, but you have to take it. Nobody else did. In an era where most American cities went one direction, Portland went another, either capturing or even creating the zeitgeist of a new age. Continue reading

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Seattle, Vancouver, and Portland by Rail, Bus, Streetcar, and Foot: Part Three

Portland, like its famed streetcar, is an interesting case. It boasts many of the pieces found in successful cities and some that no other American cities can match. The streetcar. Light rail. Cycle tracks. Skateboard tracks. An aerial tram. Traffic calming. No major downtown arterials. Local music. Local art. Local beer. Great food. Environmental awareness. A history of proactive and progressive decision making. Historic urban fabric. Food trucks. Park blocks. It’s walkable. It’s bikable. There is much to like in Portland, and the hype is not all smoke and mirrors.

But…
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Food for Thought: Roy Mankovitz

In my opinion, the very phrase “smart growth,” like the phrase “sustainable growth,” is an oxymoron. At our present point of evolution, I see nothing smart about continued growth.
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Mapping Future Growth

IF every acre of unprotected open space on Long Island were developed with single-family homes, the landscape could hold another 90,000 homes. On the other hand, if erected as town houses, garden apartments and apartment buildings, the same 90,000 units could be built in downtown areas, utilizing about half of the 8,300 acres — or 13 square miles — of available parking lots, vacant land or open space on the Island. How the area can grow, what it will take to be economically viable going forward, as well as how much and what type of new development is possible and preferable, is the focus of the 2010 Long Island Index released last week. The study and an accompanying interactive map (www.longislandindexmaps.org) examined 156 places, including 111 classified as downtowns.
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