Friday, November 24, 2017

My Favorite Place in Portland

I'm a bottom feeder, right? We know that. So you'll believe me when I tell you about my very favorite place in Portland. It's this place:

It's the parking garage at 4th and Alder. The fancy glass you see is the elevator. You can ride up and look out over the city, up to the ninth floor! Which would be cool. But that's not what we do. We take the stairs. There are stairs, all the way up to the roof, which would be the tenth floor, except it doesn't get a number. Because it's the roof, I guess. There are four complete stairways, one at every corner. This is important, because if your knees don't really like you going up ten flights of stairs in one go, you can climb a bit and then walk up the ramp a bit to the next corner, climb a bit more, and so on. 

I admit that it's not particularly prepossessing at first. Concrete steps. Sometimes you navigate around someone's abandoned Big Gulp or soda can. And for a floor or two, maybe someone else is on the stairs. But usually not.

This part, honestly? Is not very exciting. But you keep going.

When you get halfway around, you can take a look and make sure the Morrison Bridge is going to be open, and that the traffic's going to be moving. If it looks jammed up, you might take the Burnside or the Hawthorne. (Note: this is what it looks like four days out of five. On the fifth day, the wind has swept the clouds aside, and framed between those two buildings, Mt Hood is brilliant, white, and break-your-heart beautiful.)

And now it's starting to get fun. Cityscapish. If you like that kind of thing. And you see that bit of sky? There's going to be more.

We're about halfway up now. There's more sky. No more people on the stairs: if there are, we'll startle each other.

More stairs and another corner. Those are the towers of the Hawthorne Bridge, against the sky, there.

And hey, the nipple of Pioneer Courthouse Square, peeking out there!

Round about the 8th or 9th floor, not only the people are gone, but the cars, too, most days. Now it's lonesome and a little eerie: the light washes back and forth through empty space.

And then you're on the roof, and it's a splendid solitude. Like the fells above the Lake Country. Well, sort of. With its own sublimity.

And sky. Lots and lots of sky.

And on the way back down -- because you didn't park way up here, that would be a silly waste of energy, driving the car clear up -- you can look down at the holiday shoppers. They're there too, the silly creatures.

I get to climb this glorious windswept tower twice a day, and I have it all to myself. I used to dread it becoming discovered and trendy, like so many other things in this city, but I've finally decided it's safe to tell y'all. I don't think anyone else is ever going to come up here.


Alexandra said...

I probably will, but I am no trendsetter:) thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

I have a (much shorter) home town parking garage I try to climb a few times a week, now that I don't work in an office building with good climbing stairs. Views are a plus.....


Peter said...

We moved into a condo two months ago. New-construction nails popped our tires twice, so I parked across the street in the mall's garages until they started ticketing me. I started to fall in love with one of the garages, taking pictures of it and from it with my phone. Your post may help me understand myself. I worry about the public's discovery of my gems, too, a kind of fast-moving and relentless glare like Tolkien's Eye of Moron, or whatever it was. But I find that if I discover it, it's usually safe.

Jeff said...

I grew up in a grungy, overcrowded area of New Jersey, and my friends and I often found places like this, places where we were able to see a certain kind of beauty where others either didn't notice or didn't think to go. Such places are all the more special for being open secrets.

Nimble said...

Thanks for sharing that beautiful view. I love secret cityscape spots.

marly said...

Just lost a few vicarious calories...