every park in portland

EPIP: Tom McCall Waterfront Park

Naito Parkway between SW Harrison Street and NW Glisan Street
Neighborhoods: Oldtown-Chinatown, Downtown, South Portland

I absolutely chose the worst time of year to visit this park. Obviously, the best time is when the cherry trees blossom. What can you do.

Tom McCall was the governor and Secretary of State of Oregon back in the 60s and 70s. Waterfront Park is a staple to people working in downtown Portland. It is a place where you can escape the rat race and walk for your mental health. It’s a long strip along the Willamette and it’s often used for hosting big events in the spring and summer, much to the chagrin of the grass there. Also, I’m just now noticing how much the Morrison Bridge on and off ramps make it look like a cock and balls.

This park is one of those places that everyone congregates to, including Canada geese. It’s nice, because the lowliest bum and the top paid lawyer both walk this path often. The great leveler, in a way.

Aesthetics: Honestly, it varies. Like I said, the cherry blossoms are lovely and the park looks good when it’s not hosting an event. After events, the ground is muddy and gross. 6/10

Function: This space has been “macro” function. No basketball hoops, but you can host biiiiig events here. The South Waterfront Park hosts a huge jazz festival, for instance, and the Shamrock Run is hosted here as well. 9/10

Sketchiness: Parts of the park, especially in notoriously sketchy Oldtown-Chinatown, are not great to walk through. I’ve never felt completely unsafe at this park but I’ve definitely walked by people having mental health crises to varying degrees, a couple of whom were violent. It’s really more of a “downtown part of a city” than anything else though. Don’t let it stop you from taking a walk here! 5/10