It’s Portland MADNESS at ExtentPNW! In anticipation of NACIS 2012 and with shameless hopes of piggybacking on the momentum from Nick’s awesome map of Portland’s bridges, in this post I’ll share some quick maps I made of the streets of Portland using Metro data. The first uses color variations to show changes in address numbers for the Portland area: double-digit addresses begin at red and then progress through the color spectrum as the numbers increase.
Although this map is wholly unoriginal (see Andy Woodruff’s “Paint by Numbers” post, as well as a follow-up for San Francisco at The Swordpress) and more artsy than data-y, some interesting aspects of the area’s geography jump out. The vertical and horizontal banding comes from numbers steadily radiating outwards from downtown Portland, mostly along Avenues and Streets (more on that in a moment). One of my favorite aspects of this map is how it shows the independent street numbering schemes of Portland’s satellite cities – hence the several nuclei of red, low-numbered addresses. Interesting patchwork effects pop up in many places, depending on which roads buildings front onto, which I assume are the results of decades of layered policies and development planning. Portland’s urban growth boundary is also distinctly visible. Vancouver, Washington is the inexplicably stripey black hole of no data in the top right of the image.
The second set of maps is also essentially devoid of originality (it’s sort of my thing). Echoing Bill Rankin’s street toponym maps, I made a series of graphics showing the patterns created by isolating the most numerous street names in the PDX Metro area. Most popular are Streets and Avenues:
Nothing particularly groundbreaking: Avenues run from north to south, while Streets tend to go from east to west. Still, similar to the patchwork on the address numbers map, the anomalies in these two images are interesting. One of the most prominent is a distinct “X” pattern visible
southwest southeast of downtown Portland (near all of the bridges!). This is Ladd’s Addition, Portland’s first planned neighborhood. I’m not an expert on the city by any means – I wonder how many other stories about the history, landscape, culture, or economy of the area are hiding behind these variations in the density and direction of Streets and Avenues? (Share in the comments if you notice anything!)
I’ll leave you with a few more street maps to ponder (in order of name frequency): Roads, Drives, Courts, Lanes, and Places. Although the patterns for these names aren’t as dense as those of Streets and Avenues, the images highlight a few interesting things, such as changes in elevation and transitions from high-density areas to suburbs.