ÒGreater Portland: Urban Life and Landscape in the Pacific NorthwestÓ


  Carl Abbott
256 pages, 35 black-and-white illustrations, $19.95 paper

Portland, Ore., has been called one of the nation’s most livable regions, ranked among the best-managed cities in America, hailed as a top spot to work and favored as a great place to do business. It’s also known as a great place to enjoy the arts, pursue outdoor recreation, and make one’s home. Its thriving downtown, its strong neighborhoods, and its pioneering efforts at local management have brought a steady procession of journalists, scholars and civic leaders to investigate. What they find is the “Portland style,” which values dialogue and consensus, treats politics as a civic duty and assumes that it is possible to work toward public good.

Probing behind the press clippings, Carl Abbott, professor of urban studies at Portland State University, examines contemporary Portland’s people, politics and public life, and its history and geography to discover how Portland achieved its reputation and to determine whether typical pressures of urban growth are pushing Portland back toward the national norm.

In “Greater Portland,” the inaugural volume in Penn’s new “Metropolitan Portraits” series, Abbott argues that the city cannot be understood without reference to its place. Its rivers, hills, and broader regional setting have shaped the economy and the cityscape. Portlanders are Oregonians, Northwesteners, Cascadians; they value their city as much for where it is as for what it is, and this powerful sense of place nurtures a distinctive civic culture. Abbott reveals the tensions in Portlanders’ diverse visions of the future and plans for development.

Strong civic participation in city planning and politics is what gives greater Portland its unique character — a positive setting for class integration, neighborhood revitalization, and civic values.


Originally published on May 17, 2001