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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Ground Zero for Nothing

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The other night I found myself waiting for the traffic signal at NW 11th and Lovejoy in Portlandia's Pearl District. Without a doubt, that is one of the fakest intersections in the world. It's like a bad theme park mockup of Manhattan. Vera Katz's "vision." Eddie Bauers and Starbuckses and condo bunkers. And sucking the economic life out of the city's real downtown. It would be hilarious if it weren't so sad.

Comments (23)

I am reminded of a quote by my favourite poet Charles Bukowski.

I see the soul of humanity of
my city and it's ugly, ugly, ugly: the living have choked the

I used to think the Pearl was a developer giveaway, but it's nothing compared to the South Waterfront and the crazy plans on the horizon elsewhere. At least the Pearl isn't a financial disaster. The bonds could be paid off if they wanted to pay them off. But you're right, the Pearl doesn't capture the essence of Portland. I sure don't like walking around there as much as places like SE Division, Belmont, NE Fremont, etc.

"I sure don't like walking around there as much as places like SE Division, Belmont, NE Fremont, etc."

I shouldn't have typed that. Now the dark side will redouble their efforts to f*** up those places, too. Sorry.

The Pearl thinks it's Manhattan. But it's really just an upscale part of Queens.

People have known for some time that corporations suck the soul out of damn near everything they touch. Unfortunately they have very deep pockets and can hire whatever they need to get their way with elected officials - lobbyists, prostitutes, private jets, destination resorts, etc. The rest of us, who care about the more important things, are left fighting constant rear-guard actions on multiple fronts...

ummm, I know this neighborhood well and I dont think its that bad. This is being pretty negative Jack. Do you remember what this intersection used to be like? I think this is an improvement. The streets are clean and well maintained. There are parks nearby. People walk around with their children. Baby strollers are everywhere. Your complaints are without merit jack.

Do you remember what this intersection used to be like?

It used to be an elevated street ramp through a true industrial section of town. It had grit. It had history. It was local. It was real.

You could have done great things in that neighborhood without making it a Universal Studios set.

I've lived here since '03. Born in Seattle, grew up in L.A (hated it, 18 and I was outta there). I know what a f'ed up city looks like. I used to say when I moved here to my Seattle family/friends that I love Portland because its kind of like what Seattle used to be before they frakked it up.Remember when the Emerald City was hailed as Most Livable...kinda like we are now? At least I'm getting to enjoy PDX before it transforms into Seattle South.

You should have had the Streetview facing North instead of South, Jack. That way, it'd be facing the infamous "Go By Streetcar" sign and further emphasizing what a farce it is.

I think the Pearl was alright when they first started converting little parts of it (before the Streetcar went in)--that was kind of funky.

But that intersection is now total Fake New York garbage. Not to mention totally a monument of city government waste. And not is it only a total theme park, it's a theme park with only one lame, overpriced ride.

I have no issue with Starbucks, though, even though they tend to open up shop in these TOD heckholes. I'm a White Chocolate Mocha junkie, and they tend to make a really mean one.

I moved to Portland in 1987 to go to school, and loved to hang out in NW because it was gritty and real- rail cars in the street (not streetcars, but actual rail cars delivering useful stuff). Warehouses producing and storing actual products, including Henry's! I left in '99 for job purposes, and get the occasional yearning to go back, but pictures like this make me cringe- how sad it is to see the soul of Portland gone. How sterile can they make it?

I think I'm going to start using "Fake New York (FNY)" as my new nickname for the Pearl.

Pretty good chinese food right on the corner.

"I am reminded of a quote by my favourite poet Charles Bukowski."

Be careful, Charles Bukowski also said:

"There's nothing phonier than a guy who claims I'm his 'favourite' poet in order to advertise how soulful and authentic he thinks he is. The people I can stand don't romanticize me. They just drink and mumble their hatreds."

I'm not the biggest fan of the Pearl, but I think the planning overlords got this one right. It hit the real estate bubble just right and it's a great location. The area around 11th and Lovejoy was an abandoned railyard, I'm not sure what you would've like to be built there instead. No residents were pushed out and the developers in that part of the Pearl didn't destroy any historic buildings.

I'm not seeing how the Pearl has hurt downtown proper. That area south of Burnside b/n 10th and 13th has really grown since the Brewery Blocks were completed. The South Waterfront on the other hand is an unmitigated boondogle. I work downtown and it's amazing seeing all the the construction and renovation going on, even excluding the light rail construction.

If you want souless, try the "new and improved" Bridgeport Brewpub. It looks like they hired Starbucks' architect and told them to use as much steel mesh as possible.

Upside: the beer and pizza still taste great and the worst smelling street in NW Portland has been paved.

I wouldn't mind it if I wasn't paying for those sterile buildings and Disneyland levels of service while my own neighborhood crumbles. This is a massive transfer of wealth from the lower and middle classes of this town to the rich. So much for the People's Republic of Portland! But, as long as we keep re-electing the authors of thise program, we have nobody to blame but ourselves.

FNY works but is it upper West or upper East?

I suppose it could be modeled after one of those corporate corners in Soho, but that's about it.

In fact, it looks less like NYC than just about every other big city with renovated areas.

If you want "Grit" in NW, you can still go farther north. I have a friend who maintains a photography studio off of NW Nicolai and NW 27th.

Warehouses, heavy rail tracks in the pavement, etc.

It's a perfect location for his studio. I'm sure the mucky-mucks down at City Hall will ruin it before too long.

While "grit" is certainly something this city needs, I personally would rather see a return of the living wage jobs which that area used to house.

The myth of the Pearl district being "abandoned warehouses," "industrial wasteland," etc., is a lie, and rather an Orwellian one at that.

In case anyone forgot (or never knew) what we know now as the Pearl District once was, here's an incredible picture that should show you just how much it's changed in 20 years:

The picture was taken in 1988.


Thanks for linking to that fantastic photo. I remember driving over the Lovejoy ramp when I was a kid ("being driven over the Lovejoy ramp" is probably more accurate) but had never seen an aerial shot. What a change of scenery!


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