I’ve been walking a lot more lately and the other day I came across something in my neighborhood that shocked me. In a good way. In a wow-this-is-amazing-how-did-I-not-know-this-was-here kind of way.
With a nagging knee injury that’s kept me from biking since October and a new dog who loves heading out with me, I’ve been walking through my part of north Portland more than ever. My boundaries are usually Lombard to the north, Martin Luther King Jr Blvd to the east, the Willamette bluffs to the west and the Humboldt/Boise neighborhoods to the south.
I like to think I’m familiar with these neighborhoods since I’ve lived in them for nearly 17 years now. But both biking and driving tend to give us a very limited view of a place. That’s one reason I love walking. I find myself on blocks of streets I’ve never been before.
A few days ago my son and I were weaving our way east from the Piedmont neighborhood to find food on lower Williams Avenue. After walking past Jefferson High we found ourselves on North Commercial Ave. About a half-block south of Blandena we came to an unfamiliar section of a familiar street. It was North Going Street like I’d never seen it before.
Further east and west I know Going Street well as Portland’s marquee neighborhood greenway and the main vein into Swan Island respectively. But in the 10 blocks between I-5 and N Vancouver Ave, Going Street is something very different. In fact in half of those blocks Going Street doesn’t exist at all.
For three blissful blocks between Congress and Gantenbein, Going is a carfree path. And on one section there’s a wonderful new, large-scale mural by Portland artist Daren Todd (@TheDailyDaren on Instagram). It has several panels that recount the past and present racism and struggle for civil rights in the neighborhood.
You’ll notice in the photos that there are no curb ramps, so this isn’t a great, through bike route. But for folks in the neighborhood (especially kids!), this must be a great place to walk and roll.
I’ve lived in this area for 17 years and somehow I had never been privy to this fun piece of hidden Portland (seriously, how come none of you told me about it?!). Next time you’re in the area, I highly recommend checking it out. When you do, keep in mind that the path crosses two alleyways (which are open to car users) and when you cross streets you’ll be mid-block and other people won’t be expect you to be there.
— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and firstname.lastname@example.org
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