It’s not every day you see The New York Times delve into gentrification in Portland.
Today’s NYT story focuses on the conversation that black and white Portlanders are having as more and more young whites move into North and Northeast Portland, strongholds of Portland African Americans since the Columbia River flooded in the late 1940s and took Vanport with it.
The story points out that, for many African American residents of Portland’s northern hoods, the influx of new neighbors isn’t the problem. It’s the onslaught of city dollars–aimed at improving streetscapes and transit service– that concern them. Those improvements aren’t meant for them, they say. Rather, they see investments raising land values and forcing them out, the story says.
You can’t miss all the improvements made in Bridgeport’s northern reaches in the past few years. I’ve marveled at them myself. I was an undergrad at Lewis and Clark College in the late 1990s, lived for a few years in Northeast Portland after school, and regularly go back to visit friends, most of whom are white and living in North or Northeast neighborhoods.
The changes can be seen as improving the quality of life for everyone. Like the yellow max line that now provides safer and more consistent connections for the northern reaches, and the new sidewalks and streetlights that have been incubating small local businesses along North Portland’s streets.
It’s hard to see the changes as only benefitting some of the people who live there. But those streets stood dark and the sidewalks cracked for decades and only now see to be undergoing a rapid spruce up.