So Portland moved a freeway to build a park! How many cities can say that? This park is emensely popular with pedestrians, cyclists and skaters. You'll see business people taking lunch strolls and homeless people watching the world go by (they tend to be harmless and placid). In the spring the pink blossoms on the cherry trees are beautiful! From May through to the fall the park hosts events including Cinco de Mayo fair, a beer festival, gay/lesbian pride, the Rose Festival, and the Blues Festival. Many people miss the sublime Japanese American Historical Plaza on the north end of the park. On the south end by the marina you'll find a bustling little shopping and dining zone. If walking the 22 block length of the park isnt' enough, you can cross over either the Hawthorne Bridge or the lower level of the Steel Bridge and walk along the East Bank Esplanade.
Sometimes urban renewal works, sometimes it doesn't. Here, the long held dreams of reuniting the City with the Willamette River have come to a very successful fruition. In the 1920's a seawall was built along the river's west bank to provide flood protection for the downtown area. Along the riverfront a large Market Building used to dominate the scene. The market failed over time and the building became home to one of the City's two newspapers (that paper has since been sold and incorporated into the one and only Oregonian). A long the seawall, used to run Harbor Drive, a very busy street. Harbor Drive was not as important a street after the State Transportation Department installed the Eastbank Freeway. So, in 1974, Harbor Drive was torn up, the Journal Building was demolished and the area between Front and Harbor became the 37-acre Waterfront Park, renamed after the popular governor who put the forces in place.
The Park is a vast public open space that serves as a center for many festivals - including the Rose Festival - in the warmer months. A huge sewer project is underway at present at two ends of the Park - ongoing till 2006. Upon completion some changes are in store for the Park that serves as Portland's living room. Walkers, joggers, bicyclists all enjoy the vast promenade above the River along the sea wall. Up close views of many of Portland's bridges are afforded. At the north end of the Park is the Japanese-American Memorial - in memory of those Japanese-Americans who were interred during WWII. At the south end of the Park, is another product of urban change, the RiverPlace district. Walking the Westbank Promenade, you can link over to the Eastbank Esplanade via the Hawthorne and Steel Bridges and make a pleasant three-mile walk.
Dedicated in 1990 to the memory of all Japanese Americans who suffered inland internment during WWII because of fears that these people would help potential invading Japanese forces. The garden and artwork is at the north end of Waterfront Park next to the west end of the Steel Bridge. See my TL for more on this unique Park.
Over one hundred ornamental cherry trees surround the Japanese American Historical Plaza giving a wonderful impression in early spring or mid fall. One of Portland’s longtime Sister Cities is Sapporo, Japan. There is a strong link between both America and Japan here in Portland – a link commemorated here.
Replacing two earlier bridges, the Morrison was completed in 1958 with minimalist architecture in mind. The bridge is a very busy conduit into the central city - some 50000 vehicles a day. Like the Burnside Bridge, the Morrison is a double-leaf bascule draw span - opening about 30 times a month on average. It makes an interesting counterpoint to its neighbor - the Burnside - to the north.
The older of the two inner city double-leaf bascule drawspans, the Burnside Bridge was built in 1926 replacing an older 1896 structure. One of the designers involved was Joseph Strauss, better known as the bridge designer for San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge. The Burnside Bridge is the only bridge designed with the help of an architect, which maybe explain the Italian Renaissance-inspired bridge towers. Busy Burnside Street crosses the bridge serving to separate the City on a north - south axis. Streets to the north are either northwest or southwest (or north in one smaller region of the City) and to the south are either southwest or southeast - the Willamette River serving as the east-west axis.
Owned by Multnomah County - as are six of Portland’s other Bridges - this is the City's oldest, dating back to 1910. The bridge features a 244-foot steel through truss vertical lift span, which can lift 110 feet. The Hawthorne Bridge has undergone several major modifications during its lifetime, the most recent during 1999. The bridge serves the heart of the central business district and provides a dramatic foreground to the city towers beyond, when viewed from the eastbank. The bridge is also one of the lower bridges, which means that the lift operation gets to be operated on a more frequent basis.
Wander along the riverside boundary of Waterfront Park and you walk along the edge of a seawall built in the 1920’s to provide flood protection to the central business district. For the one and only time since the seawall was erected, in 1996, a huge plywood/sandbag wall was erected atop the seawall, during the height of a huge flood that threatened to top the wall.
The seawall is also the home of the huge Rose Festival fleet, a centerpiece for the Rose Festival week. A literal fleet of American and Canadian vessels berthed along the wall. Post 9/11 fears of terrorism and sabotage have severely diminished the numbers of vessels visiting in early June. The huge black bollards along the wall belie the docking opportunities still presented by the Rose City.
In another excuse for Portlander's to get out when the sun might be out is the waterfront Cinco de Mayo festival.
For five days, thats right F-I-V-E, the waterfront park is transformed into a open festival with parades and food to celebrate the Latino community.
I find the length of the celebration a little funny coming from San Jose where the Hispanic population is hundred of thousands with a one day festival - and a much, much smaller community is in Oregon.
But, so be it for an Oregonian to pass up a chance to lift a pint during the nice season. Well, may be the nice season that early...
May 1-5th, coronas on the waterfron t on me!
Portland has a nice park along the waterfront of the Willamette River downtown. It is right along the Old Town shore of the river, once a busy commercial area and a heart of the city's early economic activity.
There is plenty of grass for kids to run in, or to relax, plus walking and bicycle paths, sculptures, etc.
The Tom McCall Waterfront Park, named after a former Oregon governor, borders the west side of the Willamette River. It's a great place to walk, bicycle, people watch, or just hang out on the grass.
Several Portland festivals, like the Blues Festival, are held in the park, and it's a popular place for families on weekends.
The day we were there, some young artists were making chalk drawings on the pavement.
Portland is famous because of the Rose Festival and it is commemorated here at the Watefront Park. This is like what venice beach is to los angeles so the center of festivals, event, parties, etc in the portland area is here. there are also restaurants, bars and shopping areas in it so you can enjoy the atmosphere.