Another missive from Scot’s trip to Portland:


Colourful and well-scaled residential infill along Division Street in Portland:



It’s quite an intimate streetscape with the building elevations +/- 50 feet apart with street neckdowns of 24 feet at either end of the block, reducing traffic speed and book-ending the small commercial strip.  Unlike Vancouver’s main arterials which are largely stroads with high traffic volume and speeds, Portland’s main Eastside routes (Burnside, Hawthorne, Division, etc.) are narrow in cross-section and, subsequently, with lower speeds and volume, making living above them more pleasant.




Intersection is SE Division Street & SE 32nd Avenue looking east. (Map here.)


  1. If you zoom out on the map, the continuous line of larger buildings (retail commercial, presumably) on those east–west “smaller” arterials is quite striking.

    By comparison, Vancouver has much smaller pockets of retail strips, even along the arterials, and generally not parallel to each other for great length. i.e. Main Street, Cambie Village, and South Granville may be on the same latitude, but Oak is devoid of a commercial strip, and only Main Street’s commercial zone extends any great length.

  2. PS – dare I say that these east-west Portland streets can afford to remain small because of the existence of the I-84 freeway, so long distance travellers from the east will not need to traverse the neighbourhood on surface streets. i.e. these roads do not “need” to be stroads because of the existence of the freeway, so they can remain smaller and more neighbourly.

    1. Yeah I think about that too. What I find interesting is how close the building elevations in Portland are to each other on the old streetcar streets. For example Mississippi Street is 60 feet compared with South Main Street in Vancouver which is 90 feet so its quite easy to jam more lanes in without tearing down buildings.

      1. and that’s the difference – the street right of way in Portland was designed thinner right at the moment the streets were laid out – which was before that highway was built. This issue probably predates the highway and is totally unrelated.

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