Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Stairs & Ruins

10th Ave. Gatehouse

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No, I'm not wafting around Tuscany, at least not today. These photos are of what was once the gatehouse for an old 19th century reservoir near SW 10th & Clifton, in downtown Portland just south of I-405. Seems the reservoir wasn't big enough and ran dry in the summer, so it was eventually replaced by the much-beloved reservoirs in Washington Park and on Mt. Tabor. I really can't tell where the reservoir itself is supposed to have been. But everyone says there used to be a large body of water around here somewhere, and I don't know why someone would lie about a piece of trivia like that, so I imagine it had to have been around here somewhere.


If you look in through the "window", you can see someone's been sleeping inside there quite recently. I would too, if I was homeless. Not "swanky" exactly, but it has a roof, and it's built better than most new houses these days.

Just to the left of the view in the top photo, 10th ends in a short public stairway up to Cardinell Drive. I was down at the Central Library the other day and looked over their reference copy of the ever-elusive Portland's Little Red Book of Stairs, and plotted this walk out from it, more or less, sort of.

One thing you don't see on the [map] is that there's a path between Cardinell Drive and Hoffman Avenue, right at the hairpin turn where Hoffman turns into Sheffield. The signs indicate it's private property open to public use, "at your own risk". It's a nice, wide, flat path, so I think the "risk" bit is just lawyer-speak, unless you suddenly get the notion to hurl yourself down the hill or whatever.

Going between the aforementioned stairs and the path is kind of interesting, because it turns out there's a gate on this part of Cardinell, to keep out the greasy hordes of the lumpenproletariat. At least the ones who arrive in cars, anyway. There's no gate on the sidewalk part, so you can walk through the area, you just can't drive through. I was actually coming the other direction, from the Hoffman side, so I didn't realize there was a gate until I was already on the snooty side of the gate. Weirdness.

(I'm doing this in backwards order because I liked those gatehouse pics the best and wanted to put them at the top. Plus it seems kind of artsy and pretentious this way, which seems appropriate considering we're in the West Hills here.)

Which brings me to how I got to the Hoffman Avenue end of the path. As you might suspect, it involves stairs. Lots and lots and lots of stairs. The Little Red Book dubs them the Elevator Stairs, and after climing them I tend to agree. Since we're going in reverse order, the first photo is from the top of the stairs, looking out at Mt. Tabor:


The last couple of photos are from about 1/3 of the way up. One photo looks up the stairs, and the other down:

Elevator Stairs, looking down

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