Published In


Document Type


Publication Date

Winter 2007


Historic preservation -- Oregon -- Portland, Endangered structures -- Oregon -- Portland, Historic architecture -- Oregon -- Portland, Cultural property -- Protection --Oregon -- Portland, Historic preservation -- Law and legislation -- Oregon


James Conway’s September 2005 description of Portland in Preservation typifies the city’s image as a place where innovative planning has created an exceptional and impressive urban landscape. Portland prides itself on being uniquely livable. Known for clean streets, urban parks and a laid back lifestyle, for many it’s the very model of a successful city. Public transportation is widely used, the city’s downtown remains vibrant, and smaller neighborhood commercial centers provide big draws for shopping and entertainment. Local natural amenities are widely enjoyed, as residents fl ock to urban parks and natural areas outside the city. As a result, the metroscape is growing rapidly. The increase in population can be seen in the thriving construction industry and the plans for a new MAX line. It is during periods of rapid growth and change that communities must define themselves, strengthening their futures through deliberate and structured development. In many ways the metroscape excels in urban planning. However, our success is not clear in the preservation of historic resources. Citing the popular local chain McMenamins and several unidentified buildings in the Pearl District, Conway lauds locals for successfully embracing historic preservation. But in reality, the majority of buildings in the Pearl are not historic warehouses retrofitted for new lives as luxury condos and trendy commercial spaces, but rather new buildings with architectural elements that simply allude to the area’s industrial past. The few historic buildings that have been converted along with the small but successful McMenamins chain suggest the potential for adaptive reuse, but what have we really done in the way of historic preservation?


Originally appeared in the Winter 2007 edition of Metroscape, published by the Institute of Portland Metropolitan Studies, Portland State University.

Persistent Identifier