Tuesday, April 17, 2007

On the Waterfront -- I Coulda Been a Contendah!

Like it or not, the new urbanism is here, as spotlighted recently in the San Francisco Chronicle. We have Santana Row, Belmar and other Disneyesque instant inner city feeling developments. Criticized for not being organic and just window dressing for the evolution of strip malls, they are none the less a current reality. Variations on San Francisco and Manhattan lofts are popping up in places like Houston, Omaha and Fargo, new buildings pretending to be old warehouses converted into new uses.

It’s been a year since I was in Portland (unless you count those five hours at PDX airport during the Christmas transit a visit). Quicker than you can say Jiffy Pop, there’s now a new city south of downtown called the South Waterfront District, complete with high rises, an “old-fashioned” trolley, a sky tram and edgy urban non-picket fence residences. Dropping by this afternoon during a break from my short work trip here, the only residents I encountered were a few hired geese who seemed to be enjoying the freshly planted lawns. It sort of felt like I was Brasilia on the Willamette, minus the humidity and decimated rain forest.

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