The Eastbank Esplanade is one of my favorite places in Portland. Finished in 1998 and named after Mayor Vera Katz, this relaxing 1.5 mile trail connects the east bank of the Willamette River with the west bank. The Esplanade incorporates 4 bridges into it's trail, going under the Morrison and Burnside Bridges and crossing over the Hawthorne and Steel Bridges to form a 3 mile loop.
Along the Eastbank are statues and artwork giving a creative flair that is so uniquely Portland. Before the Esplanade, the river bank was littered with trash. A collection of shady dwellings and home to the homeless, disgruntled and drug addicted. It was a haven for alcohol parties and violence and not the safest place to be after dark. As John Anderson of the New Colonist Paper wrote, the Eastbank Esplanade truly does reclaim "a disregarded urban space."
I loved to walk the Esplanade during my lunch. It was just the hike that I needed to relax and clear my mind before I dove head first into my busy afternoon agenda. If I didn't get to go during my lunch, I would take the long way home after work and roller blade the 3 mile trail just to feel the cool river breeze and to see the evening lights on the water.
The Esplanade isn't just used by walkers and roller blades though, bikers, skateboarders, picnickers and fisher are also welcome, making the Eastbank a one of the best parts of the Portland waterfront.