On a 1992 trip to Portland, Oregon, Philip Langdon tries to discover how the "courteous, well-kept city of 453,000" became "a paragon of healthy urban development," especially successful at maintaining a vibrant downtown core. He left impressed by "the sense of common purpose, the easy communication among the area's leaders, and the longstanding conviction that Oregonians should conserve the good life, even at the sacrifice of some self-interest."

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