This grassy, 23-acre park that stretches for about 1 1/2 miles along the Willamette River was once Portland’s raucous river port. In 1929, the old downtown wharves were demolished and the first seawall erected; from the 1940s until the 1970s, a major east-west highway plowed through the area. As part of its downtown urban renewal scheme, the city reclaimed the land and named the new park after Tom McCall (1913–1983), an early proponent of land-use planning who served as governor from 1967–1975. (McCall was the Oregon governor who famously said, back in the 1970s, “Come to visit but please don’t stay.”) The park is frequently used for summertime concerts and festivals, the most famous being the Rose Festival in June, when a Coast Guard ship docks alongside the seawall (an entire fleet used to dock here) and carnival rides are set up. A waterfront esplanade used by strollers, joggers, bicyclists, and Rollerbladers stretches from RiverPlace (an upscale retail, hotel, and condominium development with a marina at the south end of the park) to the Japanese-American Historical Plaza on the north end, planted with cherry trees and commemorating Portland’s Japanese-Americans who were sent to internment camps during World War II. Salmon Street Springs, a 100-jet fountain with changing water configurations, is located at Salmon Street and is a favorite cool-off spot for kids on hot summer days.
The Bridges of Multnomah County
Six Portland bridges can be seen by strolling the length of Tom McCall Waterfront Park. The three most notable are the buff-colored Hawthorne Bridge (1910), the oldest lift-bridge in the country; the Morrison Bridge, which opened in 1887 as a wooden toll bridge—the first span across the Willamette—and was replaced in 1905 and 1958; and the Steel Bridge, the world's only telescoping double-deck vertical lift bridge. Unfortunately, the draw bridges rarely draw nowadays, as the big cargo ships—remember, Portland is the largest inland port on the West Coast—long ago moved westward towards Swan Island.