All the Things We Can Learn About Portland From Maps

What do these maps tell us about our future?

Over the past 40 weeks on the Dive podcast, we’ve discussed a wide-ranging array of topics. From homelessness to beer, from COVID to sports, no topic is beyond our boundaries. But maps? We haven’t really yet dug into maps.

As a kid, I used to love going to the Lewis & Clark forts in Astoria and looking at the maps they used to make on paper and cloth using ink they made from oak trees. Don’t check my facts on that but I think that’s what they did. It was a long time ago.

Ever since then, I have loved maps. I know it sounds nerdy, but the way they tell stories and the analysis that can be taken from maps can keep me occupied for an afternoon. The good news for me is that there is one person in the world who definitely likes maps even more than I do. And that man is my boss and the editor of Willamette Week, Mr. Aaron Mesh.

In this week’s cover story, Aaron took readers on a journey as he brought to life five maps that are a part of a fascinating book published by two Portland State University professors. In this week’s episode, we talk to one creator of these maps about what can be learned about Portland through cartography. What makes Portland unique? How do we compare to Seattle and San Francisco? What do these maps tell us about our future? All of these are questions that we attempt to answer in our interview with Hunter Shobe.

We also talk to Aaron himself. How did this cover come to be? What childhood experience made him obsessed with maps? Should I stop just posing questions in this article? Maybe, but if any of them intrigue you, be sure to listen to the 40th episode of Dive.

Listen on Apple Podcast.

Listen on Spotify.

Willamette Week’s reporting has concrete impacts that change laws, force action from civic leaders, and drive compromised politicians from public office. Support WW's journalism today.