All those big square houses

I was on a bike ride this weekend and we were riding down Salmon St in inner SE, between 23rd and 12th. One of the women on the ride was exclaiming about how beautiful the neighborhood was with “all these big square houses”. I listened to her rhapsodize for a few sentences, thinking how funny it was to hear someone describe the houses that way. I realized that I’ve gotten used to how inner Portland looks, and it no longer seems odd or remarkable to me, although I continue to find it very beautiful.

It also reminded me of a story my dad tells about me as a very small child asking why all the houses in Detroit (where we used to fly in order to drive to Canada to visit my dad’s family) had pointy roofs. My eye was apparently already calibrated to the flat roofs of many New Mexican houses and found the long rows of pointy houses remarkable, just as this woman found Portland’s “big square” houses remarkable coming from Beaverton.

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