McLoughlin Promenade's Grand Staircase, looking up the bluff toward the Promenade park area
Oregon City’s Grand Staircase links the historic center with the town’s premier park located on a bluff 100-feet above it. Completed in 1939, the stone and cement pathway replaced an old wooden stairway in approximately the same location. Skilled and unskilled Works Progress Administration workers provided the labor for this feature of McLoughlin Promenade.
Several aspects of the Grand Staircase make it distinctive. Workers cut a new pathway into the basalt bluff for the staircase. Natural landscaping and a man-made waterfall adjacent to the stairway enhanced the public amenity. Those aspects of the Grand Staircase’s design established it as a safe, park-like alternative for pedestrians as opposed to space adjacent to the heavily trafficked road on Singer Hill.
The skilled WPA stone masons used local basalt cut in random patterns to face the stairway walls. The Promenade’s stone walls offer an excellent example of the National Park Service’s rustic-style aesthetic and its growing influence on New Deal era parks and roadways in Oregon.
Finally, the shallow cement stairs rise less than six inches while the run is approximately eighteen inches deep. These proportions invite a leisurely pace up and down the staircase. Whether just a colorful tale or not, one twenty-first century story suggests that the shallow steps were meant to accommodate horses.
Carcinci, Justin, "Promenade wall won't come tumbling down," The Daily Journal of Commerce, June 4, 2010.
“McLoughlin Promenade.” National Register of Historic Places; Oregon City, Oregon. https://www.nps.gov/nr/feature/places/14000179.htm. Accessed 12 Apr. 2020.
Project originally submitted by Judith T Kenny on September 1, 2020.
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