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Terwilliger Parkway Gains National Historic Status

[Posted March 26, 2021]

Friends of Terwilliger announced on March 15, 2021, that SW Portland's Terwilliger Parkway has been added to the National Register of Historic Places.

A statement from Friends of Terwilliger President Anton Vetterlein says, “Listing establishes a heightened level of review and protection for projects in the parkway which is critical considering that OHSU and city bureaus are frequently doing work that affects park property and the roadway through it.”

The historic section comprises 115 acres of the original parkway from Duniway Park to SW Capitol Hwy. Opened in 1914, the Parkway was originally conceived in 1903 by the landscape architects John C. Olmsted and Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. 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. No private land is included in the listing.

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. Over the past century the Parkway has become a forested corridor popular with runners, walkers, and cyclists from all over the city.

The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the Nation's historic places worthy of preservation. Authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect America's historic and archeological resources.

Friends of Terwilliger is a non-profit volunteer group formed more than forty years ago to protect the historic, natural and recreational character of Terwilliger Parkway. The group has succeeded in establishing more than 190 acres along the Parkway as open space and engages in habitat and watershed restoration as well, including the removal of many acres of ivy.

According to the Friends of Terwilliger website, the Parkway is named for James Terwilliger, 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.

Terwilliger Parkway joins over 2,000 Oregon sites listed on the register, almost 600 of which are located in Portland.

--Valeurie Friedman


What's your favorite thing about the Terwilliger Parkway? Let us know.


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