Riding Against the Grain: A Photographer on Portland’s Line 75


Portland-based photographer Geoffrey Hiller is best known for a marvelous book Daybreak in Myanmar, which interleaves pre- and post-revolution images of that country.  Now he’s turned his attention to one of Portland’s most interesting bus lines — at least in terms of the diversity of unsung corners of the city that it serves, and the beautiful and often eccentric people who live and do business there.   His blog lays out the work in little photo vignettes with commentary.  It’s wonderful.


I did an essay for his blog and any future book, in which I say things like …

As it makes its long orbit around Portland, then, the 75 tours the shifting front lines of many epic struggles. Gentrification loves the bohemian but chases it away. Defenders of history scream “stop demolishing Portland!” even as a desperate need for housing calls for bigger buildings. And in parallel, everywhere on the 75, you can watch the parallel dramas of power and weakness: power struggling to protect itself, while others struggle for survival and dignity.

To this shifting landscape, Geoffrey Hiller is the perfect guide. He knows you’ve seen the real estate photos, the chamber of commerce photos, the tourist photos, and the photos of cashed-up millennials in designer grunge luxuriating in sculpted authenticity. He wants you to see something else. Here is the Portland in between things, the struggling and hopeful Portland, the Portland that’s happening anyway despite everyone’s grandest plans.

You might find it a useful accompaniment to Geoff’s photos.  It’s all about a Portland you may have missed in your perusing of real estate magazines, or for that matter your urbanist-guided tour.


All photos: Geoffrey Hiller

3 Responses to Riding Against the Grain: A Photographer on Portland’s Line 75

  1. Mike P. June 25, 2016 at 7:14 am #

    A commenter, Mr. Shusterman, to Mr. Walker’s essay on the 75, felt that Trimet had “written off folks who need to travel between N/NE & SE Portland.”
    I was curious about the realities of that comment.

    • Jarrett October 13, 2016 at 7:00 am #

      TriMet has pretty extensive orbital/crosstown service, as I described, and most of the lines are frequent. You can see the map here: https://trimet.org/pdfs/maps/trimetsystem.pdf Lines 72 and 75, which do the movement that Mr Shusterman refers to, are both among the most frequent and busy in the network. Is it everything I’d want? Of course not.

      • Alan Shusterman January 20, 2017 at 2:20 pm #

        It’s true that some N/S lines do exist (I’ve used #75 more times than I can count as a home/work commute; it passes reasonably close to my workplace, and doesn’t come even remotely near my house). A more objective way, maybe, to think about Trimet planning is to apply the standards that urban and transit planners use. They know from survey work and ridership data how far people are willing to walk to catch a bus, and from this they know that ridership drops with each additional block that a person has to walk, and the vast majority of potential bus riders are not willing to walk anything like a mile to get to a bus stop and stand around waiting. Given that the main N/S routes of #72 & #75 are 2 miles apart and the gap between the #75 and Will. River is more than 2 miles, one can reasonably conclude that Trimet planners are not expecting very many N/S travelers to go by bus.