The Eastbank Esplanade connects the east and west sides of downtown Portland, circumnavigating the Willamette River using several bridge connections. The $30-million pedestrian and bicycle trail connection turned a once derelict strip of land into a vibrant, urban place enjoyed by residents and visitors alike. Mayer/Reed, as the prime consultant, designed the trail, signage and special features of the esplanade, collaborated with the artist team, and oversaw the community process and permitting. The 1.5 mile trail features a 14-ft. wide paved promenade and continuous seat wall, plazas, steel decks, overlooks, a cantilevered walkway, interpretive site amenities, public art, landscape improvements, and a 70-foot vertical connection to an existing bridge. A 1,200-foot long floating walkway, the longest in the United States, offers an invigorating prospect of the river and the downtown. Three types of bioengineering allow for riparian habitat to become established on the riverbanks, significantly increasing the wildlife populations.
Urban markers designed by Mayer/Reed feature historic and cultural interpretation and designate 13 locations where the city’s streets once met the waterfront. The 20-foot tall, stainless steel markers designate incorporate street signs, light fixtures, maps and interpretive story panels. At the Madison Street plaza, a 57-foot long granite Willamette River map incised with artwork places Portland in context with the river system that meanders over 180 miles through the Willamette Valley. River lore and poetic inscriptions provide historical footnotes and embedded bronze mile markers designate the nautical distance of cities and towns along the river.