25 March 2014

[pdx] Travelogue: Downtown Oregon City (another photo essay w/words scattered about)

The perambulations of yesterday, as I may have intimated (and if I didn't, I'm doing so here), included a rather extensive leg up and down Main Street in downtown Oregon City.

The lower levels, as they called 'em back in the day.

Downtown Oregon City is a cozy place.

It's shimmed between the river on one side and the bluff on the other. In this rift is a very cozy neighborhood with some pretty vibrant businesses and lovely architecture. On this mid-Sunday afternoon, typically a sleepy time in Oregon cities of any size, there were a bustling pizzeria and a hole-in-the-wall Mexican food place, both doing good business.

As to the architecture, this building - labelled COMMERCE BANK and hosting and Edward D. Jones stock broker's office on the ground level - has survived a bit more than a century. That space-age thing against the bluff is Oregon City's famed Municipal Elevator, of which more later. This picture was taken at the corner of 7th and Main Streets.

The street fronting onto the river is McLoughlin Blvd, a part of Oregon Highway 99E, the major artery down the east side of the Willamette Valley. At this point it's an arterial taking you past and around the end of downtown. Center here is the old Clackamas County Courthouse, to which we will return.

Like I said, cozy place.

A view downstream on the Willamette from the middle of the Arch Bridge, which one gets on by going to the corner of 7th and Main and heading west. It's hard to miss how narrow the river is at this point, especially if one is used to its full-bore majesty north and south of this place. In the distance is the Abernathy Bridge, the one that carries Interstate 205 over the Willamette as it strikes out for SE Portland.

Now, while we were viewing the above, we couldn't help but notice a distance barking of … seals? Yes, there were seals there. And zooming in to the max with my Canon, this is the best view we could get:

Note the small black pips there more or less at the center of the shot. We could just make out the bobbing of heads.

Seals. Pinnipeds in the Willamette.

A view back down the bridge gives a clear idea of how the bridge leads into the center of downtown …

… and this one from the crow's nest of the elevator looking down at Arch Bridge and the vicinity of the eastern approach. Downtown OC's so snugly packed it gets lost down there. Lovely small-town architecture.

Between the River and the Rails …

There are a great many placards of all sorts in downtown Oregon City. This is a place that's proud of its history and doesn't want you to miss any of it. Tough to get lost there … even if you look down, there's a signpost telling what's nearby.

Singer Falls? We'll get there.

The Clackamas County Courhouse is a thing of muscular beauty. It, along with the rest of downtown, is cozy; Clackamas County is to be admired for maintaining a courthouse which is, by reputation, a bit small for the county's needs (a great deal of county admin happens at the south end of town, an area known by the locals as The Hilltop. In Oregon City, geography is all).

It occupies most of the block on Main Street between 8th and 9th. in the above POV, taken from 8th and Main, the foreground has an obelisk from the Arch Bridge before it was renovated, crediting the visionary who created the bridge's design, as well as many arched bridges along the Oregon coast … Conde B. McCulloch. Think reverently of him whenever you cross the bay at Newport.

The details of the building suggest the sort of project initiated during the Great Depression to get men back to work. The details are Art Deco and very representative of the artistic styles popular at that time as I'm familiar with them. The typography above is worth the price of admission right there.

A couple of photos back I noted a geographic feature I'd not unto then heard of: Singer Falls. I only knew of one falls associated with Oregon City. Well, there are two, and here's the other … Singer Falls:

Singer Falls. According to lore, Singer Creek once flowed from the upper level and came down the face of the bluff as a stream. Like many small streams in Oregon's larger towns, it's been largely culverted. This part, however, has been channeled into this chute, which is Singer Falls. The staircase that climbs the bluff crosses the stream, and it's all landscaped very nicely where the two cross. Worth the climb.

Fear and loathing in The OC? Nah. Just the van belonging to the tattoo shop that's across the street from the courthouse.

Say what you want about Oregon City, if they have tattoo shops near the courthouse, it can't be all that uncool.

It's very walkable down there. Cute little alleys between buildings beckon.

The best angle on the Arch Bridge we can get off main street, and framed by not only by nature but the constructions of man.

And, as a coda, detected at last, evidence of Democrats in Clackamas County. As a fellow Democrat, I feel for them. Judging by the sorts of people who get elected down that way, they have a hard job pretty much all the time.

But, when you can show off a Senator Jeff Merkley-autographed lawns sign, then things can't be all that bad.

This is Merkley Country, yo. Represent.

I was surprised by a lot I found there. Downtown Oregon City really is kind of a spiffy, tidy place (not one, but three hobby stores down there, and two furniture stores, as well as a video production company). It's a real gem, tucked down where you'll miss it if you don't take the time to look.

Maybe they're trying to keep it a secret.

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