“The urban growth boundary can be viewed, experienced, intellectualized, conceptualized, and perceived as a finite measurable line, a known quantity that is highly specific. Likewise, the urban growth boundary can be thought of as a less tangible, more abstract place that partially determines how we live and how closely we live together…There are numerous ways to examine the UGB: analytically, metaphorically, abstractly, intellectually, politically” -Orlo (quoted in “Imagining Portland’s Urban Growth Boundary” by Carl Abbott and Joy Margheim).
The Google images above and below are views that reveal the unique qualities of Portland’s urban growth boundary (previously blogged here and here). The political line creates a shifting bordered landscape of assumed dichotomies and contrasts between urban and rural. The planning boundary also seems to create a unique form of condensed suburbia via the intentional containment of sprawl.
Attempting to take a step away from the abstractions and politics that surround the UGB, I’ve made excursions to the periphery of the city over the last year to see what its really like out there. Taking a UGB map along with me I tried to decode exactly where the invisible line is (Writer David Oats did a more thorough, circular version of this, well documented in City Limits).
Sometimes the edge is obvious and sometimes its not. Like any other suburbia, the fringe landscape is dominated by open space and odd juxtapositions of programs. Sometimes its brutally ugly. Often its banal and repetitious, and sometimes unique and astonishing.
The following snap shots were made on these journeys, some of them while driving a vehicle at the same time. All images are taken either on or very near the current UGB boundary.