The McLoughlin Promenade is a 7.8-acre linear park on the bluff above downtown, which provides spectacular views of the Willamette River, Willamette Falls and downtown Oregon City. It also provides a connection to the Oregon City Municipal Elevator.
History of the McLoughlin Promenade
The McLoughlin Promenade was constructed c. 1937 as a Works Progress Administration project. This federal emergency agency for relief of American unemployment was created by order of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, May 6, 1935, under authority of the Emergency Relief Appropriation Act which was created in 1935.
In 1935 and 1936, more than six billion dollars was allocated for the financing of more than 100,000 projects through the country. Construction work was given a major emphasis and included new and remodeled buildings and highways, with other improvements to public property, federal, state, and local. Oregon received a generous share with considerable benefit resulting. Some other projects in Oregon included the construction of Timberline Lodge, building of a jail and park at Rocky Butte, binding books for libraries, municipalities, and individuals; publishing a variety of works under the Writers Project and Historic Records Survey, including "The Oregon Guild," "Oregon Almanacs" for several years, bulletins for educators, and government documents. Work included improving parks and making rustic furnishing of local materials, creating art works for public buildings such as government offices, schools, and post offices; flood control measures such as those undertaken for Johnson Creek from Gresham to the Willamette River, and constructing the Wolf Creek Highway (now U.S. Highway 26 from Portland to the Coast), and the Wilson River Highway.
The McLoughlin Promenade is approached on the west or downtown side by the Oregon City Municipal Elevator. Earlier access to the upper level of Oregon City was a series of wooden stairways. The elevator is approached through a 48 ft. tunnel running under the Southern Pacific railroad tracks to the elevator which ascends 90 feet to the McLoughlin Promenade.
The Promenade features a concrete walkway with a variety of low stone and metal walls. Immediately south and north, and continuing for about 100 feet in each direction from the elevator landing, the wall is a 44 inch high metal fence comprised of inch-square rods in a vertical pattern and accented with rough cut stone piers measuring 4 feet by 14 inches set about 10 and 14 feet apart. The remaining long portion of the wall extending 1,300 feet south consists of sections made up of a 15 inch concrete base with a long, square reinforced concrete bar set horizontally at the two foot level; the concrete bar is angled to resemble a wooden split rail fence.
Coursed rubble stone posts 28 inches high and 18 inches across mark each section measuring a total of ten feet. The Promenade concrete path follows the bluff overlooking, to the west the Willamette River, Willamette Falls, and the industrial complex in and on the Willamette River. Natural landscaping and rock outcropping enhance the rock wall. On the east side, the walkway abuts the yards of several historic houses situated on the prominent bluff. Approximately three hundred feet south of the elevator landing the wall forms a semi-circular area with a metal plaque placed there by the local Kiwanis Club in 1972 listing contributors to a fund for the restoration of the Promenade. At that time twelve lights on metal standards and a flagpole were added to the Promenade.
About one block from the south end of the Promenade a metal walkway and stairs extends across Highway 99E to access the area on the west side of the highway including the Willamette River Viewpoint. The Promenade ends at a large parking lot just north of Tumwater Avenue. A slightly curved stone wall on the east side of the concrete sidewalk extends from the Municipal Elevator tower about 100 feet south. This wall is coursed rubble, 16 inches wide and 42 inches high, with a concrete cap, and square piers measuring 18 inches by four feet.
To the north, a metal fence of the same pattern as that on the south side follows the west edge of the bluff for about 100 feet to a small concrete building. At that point the wall takes yet another form consisting of a 15 inch high concrete base with two pieces of metal pipe set horizontally approximately 3 inches in diameter at the three foot level forming the fence. Square stone piers of coursed rubble separate the sections which follow the edge of a series of concrete steps ending at the lower elevator landing. This fence continues down the hill, following the edge of the bluff, while Singer Creek, flowing from the east, drops through a series of man-made concrete pools and falls to street level below, then flowing underground until it empties into the Willamette River just to the west of Downtown Oregon City.
Near the top of the stairs, a tunnel runs under Singer Hill Road and leads to the Dr. John McLoughlin House, an Oregon City Landmark Building and a National Register of Historic Places property.