Portland State Magazine Fall 2022

In response, city leaders and residents came together to set a vision for a growing downtown Portland. The result was the 1972 Portland Downtown Plan. A medley of maps, urban planning policies, hopes, and dreams, the published plan envisioned a bustling metropolis filled with pedestrians and a web of transit, restaurants, shops, and hotels bringing visitors and workers together in a space centered around the city’s living room, Pioneer Courthouse Square. The plan also carved out a role for Portland State, not as a collection of buildings, but as a full civic partner and driving force of innovation that would benefit the city in the decades to come. Fifty years later, the plan is, in many ways, a success story, responsible for shaping some of downtown Portland’s most beloved features. It’s also a lesson in the unintended consequences of developing a burgeoning mecca—and a reminder of vital work still left to be done. by Katy Swordfisk In the early 1970s, as many urban dwellers across the country were fleeing to the suburbs, Portland was in the throes of a grassroots movement to pivot away from car culture and toward the city’s people. A freeway separating downtown and the Willamette River, then known as Harbor Drive, was facing expansion. Property owners had proposed parking structures to replace historic buildings. The people rebelled. FALL 2022 // 21 erous. s "traffic free." only be approached. d emergency vehicles affic. e with major use ty district--or they locks. Eliminating .vironrnental objecTHE PLAN THAT BUILT PORTLAND ,, ➔