If you’ve biked across the new carfree Blumenauer Bridge (and hopefully you have by now), you’ve probably noticed a huge, colorful mural welcoming you to the Lloyd neighborhood on the north side of the bridge. The mural — which covers a large swath of a Metro-owned parking garage on NE 7th and Lloyd Blvd — was done in collaboration between Metro, the Portland Street Art Alliance, the Lloyd Community Association and local artist Jeremy Nichols. It was completed earlier this fall, and we finally got a chance to find out a little more about it.
Joshua Baker, a Lloyd Community Association board member and Outreach Program Manager for the Lloyd EcoDistrict organization, shared some insights about the mural. He said organizations in the Lloyd neighborhood wanted to use the construction of the Blumenauer Bridge as an opportunity to collaborate on a project to represent the neighborhood and its many unsung virtues.
“The Lloyd District has been seen by the rest of Portland as less vibrant than it really is,” Baker told me. “We wanted to create a new entrance to our district.”
One of the reasons the Blumenauer Bridge installation was so exciting and prompted so much fanfare is because it provides a vital link between the Central Eastside and Lloyd neighborhoods across I-84. Now that people walking and biking have this new connection, it opens up many more opportunities for revitalization in both districts, which are currently lacking in some amenities compared to other inner Portland neighborhoods. Since the bridge opened in August, NE 7th has cemented itself as one of Portland’s most critical north-south bikeways and a major player in the Green Loop initiative.
One of the Lloyd’s most notable virtues is the presence of diverse public transportation options. The mural highlights the Lloyd’s status as a Portland transportation hub, featuring bikes — both upright and recumbent — and a TriMet map, as well as a white cane to represent transportation accessibility.
A September press release for the mural quoted Metro’s Capital Asset Management Director Ryan Kinsella discussing the transit elements of the mural:
“It’s fitting that the Metro Regional Center can be a canvas for a mural that resonates with our goals and values of conserving natural areas and planning for the region’s long-term transportation needs! With this new mural, we look forward to inviting our communities across the Blumenauer Bridge, into the Lloyd District and their Metro Regional Center.”
Beyond the transit illustrations, the most prominent elements of this mural are all the depictions of flowers and pollinators — like bees, monarch butterflies and a lovely giant hummingbird. The Lloyd EcoDistrict organization has led a ‘pollinator corridor’ initiative, putting native plants in green areas on NE Multnomah street to create an environment where pollinating animals can thrive. (And in placing these plants along Multnomah, the street became the first ‘pollinator corridor’ bikeway in the country!)
These are just a few mural highlights — if you have a few minutes to look at it, try to spot some other more hidden elements. (My favorite are the Earl Blumenauer-inspired bowtie butterflies.)
It’s great to see the Lloyd district experience new life thanks to all the organizations invested in making it a hub for Portland coolness. This mural is emblematic of its rebirth, so make sure you check it out and brighten up a gloomy winter day.