Architecture on the transit mall

Lisa and I decided one afternoon to check out some of the notable buildings along the newly opened transit mall.

TriMet, the Portland area transit authority, recently opened the new North/South light rail route in the downtown area. After a lengthy period of construction, traffic snarls and businesses struggling to deal with the turmoil, a free-ride day opened the new route.


It is interesting to sense the contrast between the modern electric-powered transit infrastructure and the classically inspired buildings.

Replacing all but one lane of automobile traffic on two major downtown streets is an example of the self conscious decision Portland made about it’s transportation future. And yet it could be argued that Portland’s growing network of light rail is, if anything, a lesson learned from the past.

The sleek new MAX light rail train

There was once an extensive network of electric trolleys throughout Portland. Like so many other American cities, the automobile led to the eventual abandonment of most of that legacy.

It’s perhaps ironic to contemplate the fact that some of the the earliest Portland trolley lines were set up as real estate promotion lines although this is not true of the trolley shown below.

Mt Tabor Trolley -
Mt Tabor Trolley -

The web site has an interesting page of early streetcar history in Portland which includes the photo above – Mt. Tabor Car No. 438 near 65th & Belmont.


Our habit of taking the occasional walking tour of Portland’s architecture was rewarded on this particular day by the beautiful light that often follows a bit of rain while there’s still water on the ground.


I enjoy that brief time between the soft light of a overcast day and the challenging light of a cloudless sky when things seem especially vibrant. We seized the moment and strolled along to take in some less familiar buildings from the city’s past.


Bet even here were reminders of the troubled economy.


It was a nice distraction from the Bungaloft project.

We’re thinking it would be cool to have a small group of people who would like to do architecture walks. Maybe a Meetup group is in the works . . .

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