Story Image

Ankeny and West Park streets during the flood of 1894

Image: City of Portland Archives, A2004-002.7771 (Used by permission)

Freeways to Greenways

The origins of Tom McCall Park

Into the early 20th Century, Willamette river floods caused Portland's sewers to overflow into downtown streets. To prevent further future overflows, the city built a seawall in 1920. Access to the river was further impeded by the construction of the freeway, Harbor Drive, in 1940. However, with the construction of Marquam Bridge in the 1960s, the traffic on Harbor Drive dwindled and a movement had begun to create a greenway along the river to replace Harbor Drive. The park we enjoy today was dedicated in 1978 and was named in honor of Oregon Governor Tom McCall in 1984.

Guest thumbnail

As Told By...

Doug Kenck-Crispin

Resident Historian, home of the podcast series Kick Ass Oregon History

Website: Kick Ass Oregon History

Doug Kenck-Crispin is the Ribald Resident Historian from He researches, writes and co-produces the bi-weekly podcast series Kick Ass Oregon History, recently featured in the Portland Mercury, Portland Monthly and The Oregonian. He has a BA in History, and is nearing completion of his MA in Public History, with an emphasis on the History of the Pacific Northwest (Portland State University). A lifelong resident of the Pacific Northwest, Doug enjoys a good yarn — the more outlandish and unseemly the better — especially when they are true!

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