21 August 2014

[PDX] Faux Telephoto - Hawthorne And The Big Hill East of César E Chávez

It was said, on the Hawthorne Street Fair Facebook page, that this was the first time the Boulevard between 30th and 38th had been closed in decades.

This gave the perfect opportunity, of course, for some angles that you couldn't otherwise get else the chance of grievous bodily injury. An always-inspiring view is the view east down Hawthorne, with the street rising to meet, and appear to be utterly defeated by, our legendary volcano-within-a-city, Mount Tabor.

It will be remembered, though, that Hawthorne Blvd was named after Dr. Hawthorne, who once ran what they called then an "Home for the Insane" down near where the Hawthorne Bridge now, and the street started life as Asylum Avenue.

So, on Hawthorne, unless anything's possible and everything's a little crayzee, then it ain't right. Not really.

The above photo looks down Asylum Avenue east from just west of Chávez up tow where the street jogs south on the side of Mount Tabor. That edifice at the apparent termination of the street is the Portland campus of Western Seminary.

Notice the dude there in the lower left of frame. He's doing what I'm doing, except his only companion is a tripod. Tripods are nice, but wives are better to have around. Just my opinion, of course. Now, when  you widen the angle, here's what you see …

The loftily-named 'Mount' Tabor is merely a hill, though a most pulchritudinous one. It is an extinct volcano, and one of the western outposts of what is amusingly called the Boring Volcanic Field. A great number of small, knobbly hills spread out south and east into the Multnomah and Clackamas hinterlands; these all erupted over one period, with nary a peep since the last 300,000 years.

In short, it's dead, Jim.

The summit elevation is reported as 636 feet above sea level; the surrounds are about 200 feet above sea level, though, so that's a 400 foot hill there. Still, remarkable; of all the cities in the USA, only four are thought to have extinct volcanoes within the city boundary. Two of them are in Oregon.

When you zoom in, crop and frame, and go for a compressed perspective view, though, that's where I fall in love:

The parts of Hawthorne west of Tabor are kind of in two parts to me: the painfully cute and fashionable, which stretch from about SE 30th Avenue to Chåvez Blvd, and the more clubby section, which run from Chávez to 50th.

When reviewing the photos I was going to put there, I realized that I tend to prefer photos with few people in them. This one, with the two young dudes there, just ambling down the street enjoying life, spoke to me, saying that maybe I shouldn't be so aloof. But, just to satisfy the aesthete in me:

… here's one where you can ignore the peoples, if you want.

A few years back, when we Portlanders went through the spasmic renaming of what we then called NE and SE 39th Avenue to César E Chávez Boulevard, it was such a strange thing. Yet again, the careful rules that were agreed on to ensure that everyone … especially those along the route, who would have to spend money changing up stationery and signage … was on board with the change, were rather casually set aside because reasons. And more than a few people, of more than one ethnic POV, pointed out that it'd take more than a street name change to really address the problems that we all saw in a mere street name-change.

But the change did go through, as it did. And I don't think I'm off the beam in saying that it very much appears that the vast majority of us have not only made peace with the change, but have embraced it. I like the idea that my hometown has a street named for Chávez; it fits with the sort of place Portland's trying to collectively constantly reinvent itself as.

So when I take a picture like this:

… with the street blade settling in against the charming latticework of the windows in the façade of the Hawthorne Theater, there's something there that's never been more natural somehow. It's part of the fabric of Portland now, which has been many things, sometimes simultaneously, often contradictingly … corrupt and holy, fair and unjust, progressive and regressive, rich of heart and poor of spirit …  All of that. Depending on time you look and the angle of persistence.

Exegesis in a photo.

One more: as addicted as I'm becoming to the forced perspective, the Telepfauxto, in sizing and cropping for display, this angle and crop hit me as perfect. Just makes me happy. That's all it is here:

I love you, Portland.


Brenda said...

And remember folks:
no photographers were squished in the production of these pictures.

I guess closing off streets can be a good thing. The inveterate driver in me sometimes disagrees, though.

- TheWife™

Samuel Klein said...