Researcher ORCID Identifier

Graduation Year


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Environmental Analysis

Reader 1

Guillermo Douglass-Jaimes

Reader 2

George Gorse

Reader 3

Marc Los Huertos

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Rights Information

© 2023 Marcello A Ursic


Portland has been on the cutting edge of American mobile food for over fifteen years, becoming a critical darling in the popular and academic press for its role in trailblazing progressive mobile food policy buttressed by broad-based civic engagement. In recent years, Portland’s mobile food landscape has begun shifting as downtown development has picked up post-recession, displacing some of the oldest and most prominent city center food cart pods with others likely to follow. Meanwhile, a new breed of formalized, purpose-built food cart pods has gained ascendancy. Called “food courtyards,” their armored, insulated, and bourgeois character is distinct from traditional street-facing and class-heterogenous food cart pods. Displacement and formalization as depicted here demonstrate the extensive gentrification of Portland’s mobile food landscape, which has serious implications for working-class Portlanders, homeless Portlanders, and food carts’ enduring and highly publicized status as a culinary incubator accessible to marginalized groups. As a case study, this thesis documents the life and times of the late Alder Street food cart pod in the Portland downtown; its 2019 closure to make way for the 35-story mixed-use luxury tower Block 216; the difficult journey of a fraction of the ex-Alder carts to The Cart Blocks; the unwelcome implications of the Block 216 development project for Portland; and ultimately situates Block 216 and the Alder Pod as the largest, most dramatic, and most traumatic link in a long chain of mobile food displacement and formalization that barring significant interventions will persist.