July 25, 2024


Travel Adventure

Photo Exhibit Explores TriMet’s Bus Route No. 75

2 min read

TriMet’s bus route No. 75 cuts a wide, if not always glamorous, swath through the city, spanning close to 20 miles across Portland’s eastside, from upper St. Johns to downtown Milwaukie. This month, it is the subject of an art exhibition called Bus 75: Hidden Portland at PLACE Landscape Architecture in the Pearl District.

Hidden Portland was a 2015-17 project and it received a grant from the Regional Arts & Culture Council during that time. The photographs in the exhibit are by Geoffrey Hiller and the text is by Tom Vandel. Hiller rode the 75 nearly every day of 2016 to get the shots.

“The point of the blog was not to show the trendy, hip places up near Alberta, but to go to places that were kind of forgotten or ‘hidden,’ so to speak,” Hiller says.

Standout photos in the exhibit include: a mother and daughter sitting on a couch together but looking at their phones at Papaccino’s Coffeehouse in Woodstock; a very relaxed group on blankets at the Heartbeat Silent Disco in Laurelhurst Park; young and sweaty U.S. Marines exercising at Columbia Park; and people casting long shadows on the side of Hollywood Town House Apartments as they perhaps return home from work.

It wasn’t always a smooth ride on bus 75, which stops about one block from his house. Early on, Hiller decided to trade in his normal Fuji camera for an iPhone so he could be less intrusive.

Still, in one image, about half of the passengers crammed into the back of the 75 are looking at the camera like they’re about to start a fistfight. The accompanying text: “Most bus riders look outward—but seldom into the face of a fellow passenger. Alienation and melancholy hang in the air and you almost despair for mankind.”

Hiller has been a photographer for about 50 years and has actually done a transit project before. In his hometown New York City, Hiller captured New York’s longest subway line, the A train, in the 1980s. He has traveled the world as a photographer, including being a Fulbright Fellow in Bangladesh and teaching photography in India, Cambodia, Pakistan and Vietnam. His work has run in publications such as Newsweek, Mother Jones, and The New York Times Magazine.

These days, Hiller is much more likely to be cycling than hopping on the 75. His next project focuses on Portland’s biking community.

SEE IT: Bus 75: Hidden Portland at PLACE Landscape Architecture, 735 NW 18th Ave., 503-334-2080, place.la/placemaking/bus-75-hidden-portland. 10 am–6 pm Monday–Friday, through July 19. Free.


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