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This article describes two contesting paradigms of urban planning employed successively in Portland, Oregon; (1) urban planning typical of the US in the first half of the 20th Century that was focused on traffic and infrastructure, and (2) progressive urban planning focused on neighborhood livability and connections. It gives a history of their implementation in Portland, focusing on issues of racial and socioeconomic justice in the Albina neighborhood. Recent knowledge about air pollution’s impacts on human health, and infant and childhood development, are integrated into the discussion of urban planning. It describes racially and socioeconomically disproportionate access to urban green spaces, with the corresponding health implications. It also describes attempts to mitigate such health implications, sometimes resulting in “green gentrification” and displacement. The article asks if the results of the two paradigms of urban planning were objectively different from one another in terms of impacts on minority and disadvantaged communities. Future urban planning, and the need for human health concerns becoming central, are discussed.

Author Supplied Keywords

Urban planning, Environmental justice, Pollution, Children’s health, Green space; Portland; Oregon


City planning; Neighborhood planning; Urban transportation; Oregon--Portland; Air--Pollution--Health aspects

Publication Information

© 2022 Steve Kolmes

Archived version is the final published version.


10.3390/ environments9100130



Document Type

Journal Article