One of the most beautiful bike routes in Portland is even more likely to stay that way thanks to a listing on the National Historic Register.
Earlier this month, Friends of Terwilliger announced their effort to officially designate this beloved parkway was successful. The historic designation applies to 115 acres of the Parkway from Duniway Park to SW Capitol Highway (see map below).
You likely know Terwilliger as a great way to escape the city for quick rides into the West Hills (it’s been part of my Council Crest loop for years) or as a relatively low-stress north-south connection into downtown. For many people who work and visit OHSU medical facilities, it’s a welcome alternative to the freeway-like conditions on SW Barbur just to the east.
But did you know that Terwilliger is also part of a 2.5 mile “lineal forest corridor” first envisioned by John Olmsted in the late 19th century and opened to traffic in 1914?
Here’s a snip from the Friends’ historic register listing application that was sent to the National Parks Service last year:
“A pedestrian or driver experiencing the parkway experiences the curves of the parkway or the views from the pedestrian path much the same as was intended by the Olmsted brothers and Portland Park Superintendent Emanuel Mische. The uniform and continuous character of the roadway and the regular cadence of the light poles create a kinetic experience as one moves along it and they tie together the various experiences of expansion and contraction, of views, enclosing forest, open lawns, and screened development from one end to the other with little interruption from cross streets or stops… Winding along the hillside, the roadway alignment is laid out with a focus on grace and ease. To provide for contemplative but safe motoring given the conditions, the steepest grade is only 6%, and the sharpest curve has an outside radius of 200 feet.”
Not mentioned in that description are the swooping bike lanes that run along both sides of the 36-foot wide roadway. They’re not nearly as nice or safe as the 9-foot wide pathway used by walkers and runners (and some bike riders), but they’re better than nothing. And the curves and beauty of Terwilliger also act as a traffic calming device that help keep driver speeds and behaviors in check.
Friends of Terwilliger President Anton Vetterlein said, “The listing establishes a heightened level of review and protection for projects in the parkway which is critical considering that OHSU and city bureaus are frequently doing work that affects park property and the roadway through it.”
It will be interesting to see how or if the listing impacts future roadway changes.
— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and email@example.com
— Get our headlines delivered to your inbox.
— Support this independent community media outlet with a one-time contribution or monthly subscription.