Terwilliger Parkway gets historic designation
Terwilliger Parkway is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The lush, winding stretch of public parkland that spans from Duniway Park in downtown Portland to Capitol Highway in Southwest Portland is now federally recognized for its blend of scenic and historic features.
The listing was announced in March by Friends of Terwilliger, a volunteer-based advocacy group dedicated to preserving the parkway.
The listing includes 115 acres of the original section that opened in 1914. Everything from the roadway, to the vegetation and light poles along the way are considered "character defining features," according to Friends of Terwilliger.
"Terwilliger goes through downtown Portland and winds through the hills below OHSU, crosses Capitol Highway near Hillsdale," Anton Vetterlein, president of Friends of Terwilliger, said. "It connects a dense urban city to a beautiful forested area."
Vetterlein said the historic designation establishes a "heightened level of review and protection for projects in the parkway," which could impact future development projects from OHSU and some of Portland's city bureaus.
"There is also an increased awareness and prestige that comes from listing," Vetterlein added.
Originally, Terwilliger Parkway provided unfettered views of the city, but decades of tree growth have enveloped the stretch of land and given it an aesthetic more in line with the forests of the Pacific Northwest.
The parkway was first developed by the Olmsted Brothers Landscape Architects and is considered a hallmark of the City Beautiful movement among architects and landscape architects in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The Massachusetts-based Olmsted brothers' father, Frederick Law Olmsted, was often dubbed the "father of landscape architecture" and is most known for his design of New York's Central Park.
According to FOT, 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.
Terwilliger Boulevard was originally called South Hillside Parkway by Olmsted, according to Portland Parks and Recreation, but was later named after the James Terwilliger Family.
Getting Terwilliger Parkway on the historic register has been a process years in the making.
FOT notes that Portland's parks bureau began the process of nominating older city parks for nomination to the National Historic Register back in 1985, but the process was never completed with the National Parks Service. In 2018, FOT began delving back into the effort.
To achieve inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places, the parkway was first reviewed by the Portland Historical Landmarks Commission before moving on to the State Historical Preservation Office and eventually, the National Parks Service.
"Terwilliger Parkway has been lauded as an excellent place to run, walk and cycle for years, and is currently increasing in use by many local residents due to the COVID-19 pandemic," a news release from FOT states. "Not only will this listing be important in the context of resource protection, but it will also provide a positive outlook on Portland's natural and regional assets in the coming years."
Correction: A previous version of this story misspelled the name of the Olmsted family. The Connection regrets the error.
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