Friends of Terwilliger President Anton Vetterlein describes why we need well-designed signage to help identify just what Terwilliger Parkway is.
That’s a prerequisite for effective preservation!
Until 2012, Terwilliger Parkway had no identifying signage or markers despite its historic, scenic, recreational, and environmental significance and increasing popularity. Gateway signs at key entry points will better identify and distinguish the Parkway and raise public awareness of Terwilliger as a park-way rather than just a road through the forest. To fully appreciate and support the parkway people need to be able to identify it. Every day hundreds of walkers, runners, cyclists, and sightseers travel along the parkway. The absence of a complete set of signs to identify and educate its users is a missed opportunity.
Most Portlanders know Terwilliger Boulevard (the actual road through the parkway) from its standard street-name signs. But too few know that a corridor of land on either side of the roadway is a City of Portland park (together they make up the “parkway”.) Fewer still know that nationally famous Olmsted Brothers Landscape Architects conceived the parkway and laid out the road over 100 years ago with the intent of creating a scenic pleasure drive connecting downtown Portland to the hills and forests to the south. It was designed with carriages and automobiles in mind and immediately became popular for its views over the city. Over subsequent years it has become increasingly popular with walkers, runners, and bicyclists, not just because of its views and gentle grade but also for the forest and natural beauty that has grown up along it.
Terwilliger Parkway’s beneficial qualities go beyond just recreation and scenery. By preserving and connecting parks and natural areas it provides clean water to the Willamette River and habitat for native plants and animals. It preserves downtown Portland’s iconic forested backdrop while offering views over the city. And it connects communities. Starting on the south edge of downtown Portland, it provides access to the medical complexes on Marquam Hill and winds through the Homestead and Hillsdale neighborhoods. Terwilliger Parkway does all these valuable things quietly and without fanfare. Yet it faces increasing challenges that gradually erode its benefits. Excessive car volumes and speeds, insensitive development, trash and graffiti, invasive plants, unauthorized activities such as camping, and, significantly, neglect by the City because of budget limitations, bureaucratic silos, and lack of a strong constituency. But how do you get people to care about a place if they can’t identify or define it?
Friends of Terwilliger have targeted three important projects to better identify Terwilliger Parkway, for greater awareness of its location, character, and benefits. The first is Gateway Signs, second is Interpretive Signs, and third is restoration and extension of the Historic Streetlights. We will discuss the latter two in other newsletters. Our Gateway Sign goal covers the three most visible entrances:
> North, at the Duniway Park entrance, a sign was built in 2012 to honor the Parkway Centennial,
> South, just north of Barbur at SW 7th, site preparation for a sign was done adjacent to a BES bioswale, and
> Central, in the recently reconstructed island at the Capitol Highway intersection.
The Central and South signs will utilize the same design and construction as the existing North sign. Additional stone elements that were designed but not built will be added if we can raise enough money.
Friends of Terwilliger has not undertaken a capital project like this before. We have mostly played an advocacy role and coordinated invasive plant removal and restoration along the parkway. We have come to realize that our advocacy is limited by a lack of understanding and appreciation for what Terwilliger Parkway is. Please stay tuned for more news about our developing fundraising campaign to build additional gateway signs.
Let us know if you would like to help with this campaign. And thanks for being a Friend of Terwilliger!