Willamette Street Walk

Eugene, Oregon is known as track town USA and the hippy capitol of the world. It also offers many charming walks and sights for the interested traveler. One of these is the walk along Willamette street to Skinner’s Butte.

Willamette Street Walk

  1. Park at the Eugene Public Library and walk past the transit center. Willamette Street is on the opposite side of the transit station from the library.
  2. Turning left, walk along Willamette Street. In a block you will come to Kesey Square named for Ken Kesey the author of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Kesey grew up in the neighboring city of Springfield and lived in Eugene while attending the University of Oregon
    • Food: Kesey Square is the location of a Voodoo Donut’s branch.
  3. Continue down Willamette Street. A variety of cafes and shops fills the shopping district. The local farmer’s market also occurs a block over from this location on Saturdays.
  4. Between 7th and 6th Aves Willamette Street becomes a pedestrian path between the Hult Center for the Performing Arts and the Hilton.
    • History: On sixth avenue a garden dedicated to the Japanese Internment during World War 2 offers a beautiful space to rest in.
  5. Crossing over 6th avenue, continue along Willamette Street.
    • Landmark: On the right side of the block is the Smith Family Bookstore. This Eugene land mark offers a wide selection of new and used books.
    • Landmark: The Eugene post office across from Smith Family Books is a fine example of Art Deco architecture.
  6. You will come to the end of Willamette Street at the Eugene train station.
    • Food: Some local spots next to the train station include the Jackalope Lounge and Morning Glory Care.
  7. Returning to 5th Ave, turn left and walk along 5th avenue for three blocks
  8. Turn right at Lincoln Street and proceeding along the street for 3 blocks
    • Landmark: At the end of three blocks you will come to The Columns. This former basalt quarry dug into the side of Skimmer Butte now serves as a rock climbing wall.
  9.  From The Columns, you can either take the trail from the parking lot or proceed up the Skinner Butte Loop.
  10. After a half mile you will come to the top of Skinner Butte.
    • Viewpoint: The butte provides a perfect view down Willamette Street to Skinner Butte’s big brother, Spencer Butte. The butte also provides stunning views down the length of the Willamette Valley and the Willamette river.
  11. You can proceed back along the Skinner Butte Loop or take the trail leading down from the lookout point.
  12. At the T-intersection take the road that dead ends in the Skinner Butte Loop until it exits the park and meets 3rd avenue.
  13. Turn right onto 3rd avenue and proceed to Pearl Street.
  14. At Pearl turn right and walk for two blocks until you reach 5th Ave.
    • Food: The intersection of 5th and Pearl features several prominent local restaurants and the 5th Street Public Market.
  15. Turn right on to 5th Ave and walk for two blocks until you return to Willamette Street.
  16. Retrace your steps back to the Eugene Public Library.

Nitobe Memorial Garden, Vancouver, BC

Sketch Description

Nitobe Memorial Garden is located on the University of British Columbia campus. The garden provides a peaceful retreat from the urban environment of Vancouver, BC. The garden is part of the University’s extensive set of botanical gardens.

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Fishing Boat at Seattle’s Fishermen’s Terminal

Sketch Description

Seattle’s Fishermen’s Terminal is the home port for the city’s fishing and crabbing fleet. The fleet operates in the North Pacific and Bering Sea.

The terminal is most famous for hosting several boats featured on Deepliest Catch. The feature boat has more humble origins though.

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Promenading on Hawthorne Boulevard

The first episode of Portlandia features a skit of the two main characters eating at a restaurant on Hawthorne Boulevard. They want to know that the chicken they are eating was treated humanly and set out on a quest to find out[1].

This points to the prominence of Hawthorne Boulevard on Portland’s eastside. Hawthorne boulevard features plenty of restaurants, food carts, historic sites and distilleries.

Hawthorne Bridge & Riverside

A trip on Hawthorne begins at the Hawthorne Bridge. The Hawthorne Bridge was built over the Willamette River in 1910 to join Madison Street in Downtown Portland to Hawthorne Boulevard on the eastside of Portland. The bridge serves as the gateway to Hawthorne Bourlevard.

You can park in Downtown Portland and walk across the bridge to begin this walk. Alternatively, you can drive across the bridge and park in the warehouse district immediately after the bridge.

Warehouse District

Beginning of Hawthorne Boulevard in east Portland

As you cross the bridge, the sculpture Inversion by LEAD Pencil studio serves as a signpost marking the beginning of East Portland. The sculpture also serves as a reminder of East Portland’s industrial past.

Historically, the eastside of Portland hosted Portland’s heavy industry and shipping. The area immediately east of the Hawthorne bridge retains its industrial feel with construction suppliers, car shops and government buildings dominating the landscape.

Eastside Distillery

This industrial area also hosts a number of attractions for the interested urban explore. Just off Hawthorne Bridge on 7th Avenue is Eastside Distillery. The distillery produces several liquors including bourbon, vodka and gin. You can sample their spirits and purchase bottles at the distillery.

Food Cart Row

The warehouse district also houses several food cart lots. These are empty lots where several food carts park. They collectively maintain shared space between them with tables, chairs and benches for eating.

One lot is located a block over from Hawthorne on SE 11th Avenue and SE Madison Street. The second is located on Hawthorne and SE 12th Avenue.

Ladd’s Addition

Heading past SE 12th Avenue, Hawthorne begins a gradual climb up a slight ridge through a residential neighborhood. To the south of Hawthorne is one of Portland’s more unusual neighborhoods, Ladd’s Addition.

The area is interesting as it deviates from Portland’s rectilinear block pattern with a diagonal grid. This pattern was inspired by the diagonal layout of Washington DC. This results in a neighborhood of pocket parks[2].

Rose Gardens

The neighborhood houses four rose gardens spread through its fabric. In spring and early summer, the gardens are filled with colorful blooms and sweet perfume.

The gardens are also unique as they serve as a rose hybrid testing site. These sites are spread around the globe to test rose hybrids for hardiness in various climates.

Ladd Circle Square Park

At the center of Ladd’s addition is its circle square park. The contradictory name comes from the park serving as the public square of Ladd’s addition. Yet the park is a circle of Rhododendrons interspersed with lawns.

Sitting on the edge of the park is Paleo Coffee & Deserts. The coffee shop serves as the public living room of the neighborhood. It is a popular spot with residents and students from the nearby Reed College and Portland Community College. Stop here to pick up a coffee or tea to enjoy while touring the rose gardens.

Hawthorne Neighborhood

Cresting the rise, Hawthorne begins to descend into the Hawthorne Neighborhood. Residential housing gives way to a bustling business district dominated by the chick restaurants parodied in Portlandia[3]. The area offers much more than restaurants though.

Bagdad Theater

The business district reaches its apex at the intersection of Hawthorne and SE Cesar E Chavez Boulevard. The area is dominated by the Bagdad Theater with its minaret topped sign.

The theater was built in 1927 by Universal Pictures to show their films. The theater has served as a world premier location for numerous films including Star Trek 3 and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

The theater had fallen into disrepair by the 1980s. The Oregon pub chain McMenamins took over the building in the early 1990s. They transformed the theater into a restaurant and performance space. Recently the theater has moved from second run films to the latest releases[4].

Powell’s on Hawthorne

Across from the Bagdad Theater sits Powell’s eastside location. The store buys and sells books and features a small coffee shop.

The store provides a smaller experience than Powells’ main location. This reduces the overwhelm from the main store’s massive size.

Powells on Hawthorne also features more locals. People stop to talk to neighbors and friends while perusing the store’s offerings. This produces a relaxed, enjoyable atmosphere.

End of Hawthorne

Downtown Portland from the top of Mt. Tabor park.

Passing over Cesar E Chavez Boulevard, the Hawthorne business district fades into the residential neighborhood around Mount Tabor Park. The main road ends at SE 50th Avenue and turns right onto 50th. Hawthorne Boulevard continues straight on as a residential road to the border of Mount Tabor Park.

From 50th Avenue, you can retrace your steps or take the Portland bus back to Downtown Portland. You can also continue straight on Hawthorne Boulevard to Mount Tabor Park.

[1] Jonathan Krisel et al., “Farm,” Portlandia (United States, 2011), http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1785082/.

[2] “Illustrating Four Treatments in Oregon: Rehabilitation (Infill) in Portland,” accessed May 19, 2019, https://www.nps.gov/tps/education/workingonthepast/case_studies/laddsaddition1.htm.

[3] Krisel et al., “Farm.”

[4] “Bagdad Theater & Pub – McMenamins,” accessed May 19, 2019, https://www.mcmenamins.com/bagdad-theater-pub.