Two River Cities
Look closely at the two views of two cities from space. What is similar and where do they differ? As can be seen by the size of the "super highway" loops, the scale is about the same.
The central part of each city is to the left of the river - although the rivers are flowing in opposite directions. By the size of the highway interchange and entrance infrastructure, it would appear that the one on the left has more people. Actually it is less than one fifth of the population of the other. The highway only conveys an illusion of economic power. The reality is much different.
The image on the left is Albany on the Hudson River, capital of the Empire State of New York with a population of less than 100,000. The other image is Portland on the Willamette River, largest city in Oregon with a population of over 500,000.
Look at the urban structures in the two cities. Portland shows high-rises throughout the image. Albany's high-rise buildings seem limited to the area within the 'V' created by the riverside highway and city entrance highway stub. At the end of that stub are the high-rises lining former Governor Rockefeller's Empire State Plaza.
This Plaza, together with the waterfront and plaza entrance super highways, were crucial factors in the death of any hope for Albany as a liveable city. Ironically, in a city that had seen a steady increase in population to 1950, the construction of the plaza and super highways (envisioned by Rockefeller as the saviers of Albany) actually were associated with the greatest decline in the city's population - a decline of some 40,000 people between 1950 and 2000. Finally, in 2010 the population increased 3,500.
The Hudson River, one of the city's greatest potential assets, is now generally cut off from the rest of the city by the massive highway. The plaza on top of a great podium is set above and segregated from the life of the surrounding city - much of whose history was obliterated in the highway's and podium's construction. State workers drive in their automobiles via the super highways from the surrounding suburban cities and towns, enter the parking garage beneath the plaza and never have to set foot in what is left of the city.