It’s been a long time coming, but Terwilliger Parkway has finally been listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 1985 the Portland Park Bureau hired a consultant to prepare nominations to the National Historic Register for several older city parks. But then they never submitted them to the National Park Service for listing. Now FOT has completed the task!
In 1985 the Portland Park Bureau hired a consultant to prepare nominations to the National Historic Register for several older city parks. But then they never submitted them to the National Park Service for listing! Over the subsequent years Friends of Terwilliger talked periodically about what it would take to complete the task. By 2018 the need for better protection of Terwilliger Parkway became urgent following several project proposals that would convert potions of the public park to transportation and utility uses.
The historic section comprises 115 acres of the original parkway from Duniway Park to SW Capitol Hwy. that opened in 1914. It was conceived by the nationally famous Olmsted Brothers Landscape Architects from Brookline, Mass., with detailed design by their protégé and Portland’s first park superintendent Emanuel Mische. The roadway, pathway, and light poles are considered “character defining features” of the parkway, as well as the views, vegetation, and the “comfort station” at Hamilton St. The nomination also includes publicly owned natural areas that border the parkway. No private land is included in the nomination.
Terwilliger is listed as an example of the City Beautiful Movement of urban and landscape design, which the Olmsted Brothers and their illustrious father, Frederick Law Olmsted, played a central role in defining and promoting in the late 19thand early 20thcenturies. Designs by the Olmsteds - father and sons - include Central Park in NYC, the Biltmore Estate in North Carolina, the grounds of the US Capitol Bldg., Stanford University master plan, the 1893 Chicago Worlds Fair, as well as recommendations for the preservation of Yosemite Valley and Niagara Falls. John C. Olmsted developed a master plan for Portland Parks, including Terwilliger Parkway, in 1903 at the same time as he was developing a master plan for the 1905 Lewis and Clark Exposition in Portland.
Originally running along a mostly open hillside, the parkway had panoramic views of the city, river, east side plains and lava domes, and mountains in the distance (see historic photos in our Gallery under Resources: http://terwilligerfriends.org/Gallery) Over the century many trees have grown up to create the wooded environment that now frames more select views or envelope the traveler in its lush embrace. The views still attract locals and tourists while the forests promote a feeling of remoteness that belies its proximity to Portland’s urban core. A recent survey showed that people from zip codes all over Portland use the parkway for walking, running, biking, etc.
Terwilliger Parkway is named for James Terwilliger, who was an early Portland pioneer who helped survey the original town plat. He received a Donation Land Grant for property that now includes Terwilliger Parkway and which his heirs donated for the parkway. The Donation Land Grants gave “free” land to white settlers that had been taken from the indigenous tribes that populated the area long before and during white settlement: Multnomah and Clackamas bands of the Chinook tribe, and Tualatin band of the Kalapuya tribe. Their history is part of our history.
We thank the many people who helped us and generously contributed to the writing of the nomination over the years, including William J. “Bill” Hawkins III. We are in particular debt to the folks at who finally put together a nomination that the Oregon State Parks Department would accept.
- Date Mar 15, 2021
- Time 04:58 PM - 04:58 PM