The DenverInfill blogger spent some time in Portland recently taking photos and observing the city through his urban planning-colored glasses.
In Downtown Portland Perspectives, Part 1 he comments on Portland’s “manageable, intimate pedestrian environment” and credits part of that to our narrow streets, in comparison to other Western U.S. cities. I noticed this on recent trips to Salt Lake City and Denver: mile-wide (I exaggerate a bit) streets running through the downtowns. These may serve automobiles better than our 3-lane wide Broadway, but pedestrians feel insignificant and crossing the street is daunting (in SLC there are, seriously, short red flags for pedestrians to wave as they attempt to cross the street; you pick one up from a basket by the crosswalk on one side and deposit it in the basket on the other . . . if you make it!). Portlanders can thank the original platters of the city for the short blocks and narrow streets.
Downtown Portland Perspectives, Part 2 brings up something I think most Portlanders take for granted:
Trees. They are such a critical element in a downtown streetscape, given all the concrete, asphalt, brick, and other hard and heat-radiating surfaces found in urban centers. . . .
In Portland, Oregon, most streets in the Downtown area are lined with a generous dose of leafy cover. It made a huge difference in enjoying the two days–hot and sunny days–I recently spent wandering around their Downtown.
Trees are mentioned frequently in the Part 1 comments. Check out the blog posts to see what the commenters notice from the photos.