Sketch Review: Between Gears by Natalie Nourigat

In Between Gears, we watch Natalie Nourigat as she completes her last year at the University of Oregon. It is a sweet story of changing from one life stage to another. And we get a look into life in Eugene, Oregon.

The story is made up of a comic recording each day of the year. These records run from September 17, 2009 to June 14, 2010. Nourigat originally posted these on a blog. You can purchase them in book form though.

Eugene Locations

I liked the story since I graduated from the University of Oregon too. Nourigat goes to several important places for college students.

Rennie’s and Taylor’s

The social life of the university is focused on the many bars and coffees houses close to campus. With so many it can be hard to choose which one to go to.

Nourigot’s social trips mostly take place in two bars across the street from the university grounds called Rennie’s and Taylor’s. They are dive bars that are popular with locals. They give out lots of fried food and beer for a low price.

Chapman Hall

drawing of main entrance to Chapman Hall

Chapman Hall is the home of the Honors College. Nourigat spends a lot of time here as she writes an honor’s thesis.

University of Oregon Quad

The university quad is important in Nourigats’s story because Chapman Hall and the library are on the quad. This puts the quad in the middle of Nourigat’s story.

Amtrak Station

Over holidays the Amtrak Station is full of students traveling home. I was happy to see that Nourigat include the station. She travels home to Portland several times in Between Gears on the train.

Student Life in Eugene

I also like Nourigat’s way of showing life in Eugene though. In many ways life as a student is limited and full of small joys.

Nourigat shows the limitations of student life on the first page with a large part of Eugene marked as uncharted in the book’s map. We also see this in Nourigat’s focus on a small number of locations.

Most of the story takes place on the University of Oregon Memorial quad. Nourigat did an honors thesis and is at Chapman Hall a lot since it is the home of the honors college. The main university library is also on the Memorial Quad.

We also see times of happiness too. This is shown nicely when Nourigat finds a sunny balcony at Friendly Hall at the start of the story. Similar scenes are throughout the story.

A section where Nourigat sees a comic book show at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art was fun. We see Nourigat’s excitement for her craft and her reason for making comics.


The story ends suddenly. Nourigat completes her thesis and graduates in two weeks. She then goes with her mom on a road trip to San Francisco.

This left me feeling that the story had not ended. So, I was happy to see that Nourigat has written several autobiographical graphic novels since Between Gears came out in 2010. I look forward to reading them.

Ladd’s Addition Rose Garden

Ladd’s Addition is a neighborhood on Portland’s Eastside. The neighborhood is surrounded by roads with restaurants and cafes. The neighborhood is also the home of a rose garden test site and interesting architecture.

Ladd’s Addition Activities

Ladd’s Addition has many attractions. Its plan uses a diagonal design that makes for interesting walks. The neighborhood also has 4 rose gardens in the neighborhood. These gardens are part of Portland’s rose test gardens.

Hawthorne Boulevard is on the northern edge of the neighborhood and Division Street on the southern edge. Both streets have lots of restaurants, cafes and stores.

Interesting places to see on Hawthorne and Division are:

  • Food truck lot at Hawthorne Blvd. and 12th Ave.
  • Cinemagic at Hawthorne Blvd. and 20th Ave.
  • New Seasons Market at Division St. and 20th Ave.
  • Speilman Bagels and Coffee Roasters at Division and 21st Ave.
  • Palio Desert and Espresso on the Ladd Circle round about at the center of Ladd’s Addition

History of Ladd’s Addition

Ladd’s Addition is named for William S. Ladd. He subdivided the land for Ladd’s Addition in 1891. Most houses in the neighborhood are from 1905 forward.

The houses are designed in a variety of designs. The design types include Craftsman, Bungalow, Tudor and others. This makes the neighborhood a great place to see many different architectural types.

Design of Ladd’s Addition

William S. Ladd gave Ladd’s Addition a diagonal plan. This is very different from the rest of Portland, which uses rectangle based plan. Ladd choose this plan because he L’Enfant’s use of diagonal roads in the plan for Washington DC.

L’Enfant was a Frenchman who came to the United States to fight in the revolutionary war. After the war he became a designer and was hired to layout Washington D.C. His plan was based on European cities and French Formal Gardens.

French Formal Gardens became popular in the 1600s and 1700s in France. They used geometric plans to show order and reason. The most famous french formal garden is the Gardens of Versailles.

University of Oregon’s Chapman Hall

Chapman Hall sits on the Memorial Quad on the University of Oregon grounds. This places it near to restaurants and cafes on 13th avenue. It also sits in one of the oldest parts of the university’s grounds.

Activities in the Area

13th Avenue is a short walk from Chapman Hall. It has many restaurants, cafes and stores. Local favorites are:

  • Cafe Roma for coffee and pastries.
  • Taylor’s for hamburgers and beer.
  • The Duck Store for all your University of Oregon swag.

The memorial quad also has important landmarks on it. The Jordan Schnitzer Art Museum has a world class collection and changing exhibits. The Knight Library offers a quite space. Memorials for students and graduating classes.

Chapman Hall History

Chapman Hall was completed in 1939. It sits where the university’s first sports field was located. The sports field was removed in 1921 to make way for the Memorial Quad.

The building originally housed the Department of Home Economics and the university book store. In 1961 the Honors College moved into the building. The Honors College has been in Chapman Hall ever since. The bookstore moved to its current space a block west in 1966.

Chapman Hall Style

Chapman Hall is made in a Mediterranean style by Ellis F. Lawrence. It uses bricks and terra cotta tiles laid in geometric forms on its wide facade. It also has large arched windows and doors.

The Mediterranean style was popular in the 1920s and 1930s in the United States. This style was made from many other styles such as Renaissance and Beaux-Arts architecture. Ellis F. Lawrence used this style in the many buildings he designed on the Memorial Quad.

This can be seen in Chapman Hall’s sister buildings at the north end of the quad. The style was also used for the Jordan Schnitzer Art Museum and the library. Chapman Hall was the last building Lawrence designed for the Memorial Quad.

Waterfall at the VanDusen Botanical Garden

The VanDusen Botanical Garden is in the Shaughnessy neighborhood of Vancouver, British Columbia. It is on part of an old golf course. It opened to the public in 1975.

Activities at VanDusen Botanical Garden

It makes for a good place to walk. It has miles of paths though the collections of plants and objects. The garden also has a restaurant and cafe.

VanDusen Botanical Garden Collection

The garden covers 55 acres (22 hectors). It has plants from all over the world. The most important collection is the garden’s rhododendrons. They have almost 1000 types of rhododendron.

The garden also has many things from all over the world. There are totem poles from the local Musqueam peoples. The garden also has a hedge maze, a Korean pavilion and sculptures.

University of Oregon’s Villard Hall

Villard Hall was the second building opened on the University of Oregon grounds. It opened in 1886. In 1949, the University Theater addition was made to Villard Hall. The hall became the home for the Theater Department.

Villard Hall was made in the Second Empire style that was common at the time. This architectural style developed during the Second French Empire. It lasted as an important style through the late 1800s.

Today Villard Hall is on a quite edge of the University of Oregon grounds. Theater pupils practice on the grass outside. The rest of the building is surrounded by trees.

Tugboat Construction in Fremont

In this view we see a tugboat being made in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood. The hull is half done with the front half in progress. Behind the boat is Salmon Bay where it would be launched.

Today Seattle is noted for big tech companies like Amazon and Microsoft. Seattle started as a harbor though. This supports the shipping of goods on the Pacific rim and to the rest of the world.

Beatty Biodiversity Museum Whale Skeleton

The Beatty Biodiversity Museum is on the grounds of the University of British Columbia. The museum houses the university’s collection of biological samples. This ranges from pressed plants to fossils.

Their most striking sample is the blue whale skeleton in the lobby though. The skeleton is 85 feet (26 meters) long. The whale died of natural causes and washed up on the shore of Prince Edward Island in 1987.

West Seattle High School

A combined grammar and secondary school had been in West Seattle since 1902. West Seattle High School opened in 1917 to provide a fixed home for the secondary school though.

West Seattle High School is in a Neo-renaissance building. It is decorated with geometric designs and has a terracotta roof. This sort of design is unique for Seattle schools.

The school has graduated a number of local figures:

  • Dow Constantine is the county commissioner for King County. He graduated in 1980.
  • Jim Whittaker was part of the first group from the United States to journey to the top of Mt. Everest. He graduated in 1947.

University of British Columbia Main Mall

Taking a break from COVID-19 Walking Views, this week’s image shows the main mall at the University of British Columbia (UBC). The mall is lined with Red Oaks and has a view of the northern end of the Cascade Mountains.

Many TV shows have been produced on the main mall. Some famous shows produced on the main mall are Battlestar Galactica, Smallville and The Man in the High Castle.

The main mall hosts many important buildings. The primary public buildings and gardens on the main mall are:

  • The Beatty Biodiversity Museum,
  • Pacific Museum of the Earth,
  • Museum of Anthropology,
  • and the UBC Rose Garden.

The university’s main library and many colleges also sit on the mall.