23 June 2015

[pdx] SW 11th And W Burnside … A Flash Of What Was

The first few blocks of SW 11th Avenue, looking south from West Burnside Street, are amongst my favorite views in town … and not just because seeing it in this light, on a Sunday evening, means we're about to spend a blissful few hours in the litmosphere of Powell's.

It's just so delightfully close to my idea of urban, the ideal I formed growing up in Silverton. There are a lot of things to recommend it, in my view. The old façades of the buildings, reminding us of a time when Portland was a bit more affordable. One building down that block is still an SRO cheapass place, the Joyce Hotel.

The angle of the street a block up is a geographic detail I adore about Portland: the original city grid's alignment and the alignment of the old Couch DLC mesh at this point, giving interesting bends, beguiling views, and interestingly shaped blocks and buildings.

But there's a lot of old Portland still echoing from these blocks. It's a charming view and one you can lose yourself in, and resonates with my rememberances of all sorts of Big Towns on the television, in old movies and half-hour comedies and dramas.

And if you pull in and frame just right …

There really is a kind of down'n'dirty magic to such a view. An urban view. An American view. You can hear the echoes of the town that was … calling you. Old Portland and New Portland are having an argument over what kind of Portland will be going forward from here. Here, at SW 11th and West Burnside, it hangs in the air, a palpable thing.

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