For our June 2015 issue, we explored (and tried to explain) the ins and outs of the Queen City.
Locals have argued for eons over what constitutes the city’s seven hills. Practically speaking, it doesn’t matter. What you need to know is this: Those concrete and steel piers at the base of Mt. Adams? They keep Oregon Street from tumbling onto I-471. In other words, the hills that give us spectacular views can also cause spectacular problems. Our steep, glacier-carved slopes are comprised of weak clay on top of slippery shale and limestone. That means mudslides during heavy spring rains, especially in places where old style cut-and-fill construction ruled the day—Columbia Parkway, we’re looking at you. Modern zoning and building codes have helped remediate the problem, but unless we repeal the Law of Gravity, that’s our reality. The city will always have to budget for repairs; there will always be bureaucratic complications for projects in landslide-prone areas; and there will always be some beautiful hillsides where building is verboten. Which is not such a bad thing, after all.