information
Storm damage recovery

Cathedral Park

Park
Cathedral Park St Johns Bridge
On this Page

Upcoming Cathedral Park Projects

Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) Cleanup: N. Bradford Street Project Update

The State of Oregon is addressing elevated levels of soil contamination in the area in and around the railroad adjacent to Cathedral Park and in the park. Testing does NOT indicate any short-term health risks to the public; more testing will be done.

Cleanup Program

Peninsula Iron Works and Union Pacific Railroad, both of which may have contributed to the PCB contamination in this area, have signed agreements coming into DEQ's voluntarily cleanup program. The Cleanup Program is a polluter pays program, meaning the party (or parties) responsible for the contamination will fund the cleanup effort.

Recent testing by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality {DEQ) has detected the presence of polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, around the North Bradford Street right-of­ way and portion of Cathedral Park.

No Immediate Threat

DEQ has confirmed that the level of PCBs detected around North Bradford and in Cathedral Park do not pose an immediate risk to public health. DEQ and OHA has not made any recommendations to the City of Portland to alter park activities. PP&R will monitor the situation closely and advise all park users to learn more and stay up to date on the DEQ blog.

Photo: A DEQ worker in a baseball cap, long pants, orange safety vest, and blue latex gloves at work in Portland.
Photo: A DEQ worker in a baseball cap, long pants, orange safety vest, and blue latex gloves at work in Portland.

"Cathedral Park is a valuable resource to the community, and we are committed to working with The Oregon Health Authority and Department of Environmental Quality to make sure that the public remains informed about public safety and the next steps in cleaning up this area, including more testing throughout Cathedral Park. Parks Commissioner Carmen Rubio and Bureau of Environmental Services Commissioner Mingus Mapps, are supportive of this direction and I appreciate their leadership."  - PP&R Director Adena Long.

Next Steps

Representatives of DEQ will be hosting a community meeting to share further details of the testing results to date and next steps.

For more information

Website

Contact: Lauren Wirtis, Lauren.Wirtis@deq.oregon.gov

Upcoming DEQ/OHA public meetings:

  • DEQ/OHA public meeting Thursday, July 21, 2022, at 5:00 at Cathedral Park by the boat ramp.
  • There is also a Zoom meeting planned for July 28, 6:00-7:30 that will be recorded and posted on DEQ's website.

Join the DEQ email list for project updates


City of Portland sampling in Cathedral Park 6/12-6/13

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) recently determined that there are polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in an area in and around the railroad adjacent to Cathedral Park. PCBs were banned in 1977 due to their toxic impacts on human health and persistence in the environment. The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) and DEQ have determined that the concentrations do not present a short-term health risk. DEQ’s environmental cleanup program is currently working with the Peninsula Iron Works to address the contamination. 

In the meantime, the City of Portland is collecting soil samples in the portion of Cathedral Park closest to the area known as the North Bradford Street project. See figure below for the area that will be sampled.  The City will provide DEQ and OHA with the collected data to evaluate if there are potential risks to park users. Data collected will help DEQ more fully understand the reach of the contamination and support an efficient cleanup.  Learn more about the North Bradford Street cleanup.  

Sampling will take place from 7:00am-5:00pm June 12-13.  Results are expected by the end of July. The City will work with DEQ and OHA to share the sampling results with the public. City staff will be onsite those days to talk with community members about the sampling and answer any questions.  

If you have any questions about this effort, please email jessica.terlikowski@portlandoregon.gov

pictured is the area to be sampled in Cathedral Park
Pictured is the area to be sampled in Cathedral Park

Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) St. Johns Bridge Repair Project

ODOT is improving the long-term safety and lifespan of the St. J​​ohns Bridge by repairing the concrete on the pier columns and arches under the bridge. Repairing the concrete will protect the bridge's steel internal frame and reinforcements from corrosion, maintaining the service life of ​this beloved Portland Historic Landmark.


Cathedral Park Nature Patch

The south side of the Cathedral Park Nature Patch

Completed in 2024, this floral masterpiece is composed of several natural garden spaces at the top of the park under the St. Johns Bridge. This horticultural and ecological showcase features a wholly unique arrangement of flowering native and ornamental plants as well as log and basalt elements that complement the beautiful bridge steps celebration venue, performance stage, and picnic nooks. 

Learn more about Nature Patches in Portland
Portland Parks & Recreation is adding nature patches to developed park landscapes to provide natural experiences for people and habitat for wildlife. Nature patches are unique natural garden spaces that support native pollinators and offer fun opportunities for education and exploration.


Cathedral Park Tree Tour

Take a virtual tour of the trees at Cathedral Park

Year acquired
1968
Size in acres
21.85
History

The site which now bears the name Cathedral Park is steeped in history. It is believed to be one of the 14 Lewis and Clark landing sites in the Vancouver-Portland area: William Clark and eight men camped there on April 2, 1806. This spot had been a fishing and camping site for many area Indian tribes. In 1847, the founder of St Johns, James John, settled on the site and operated a ferry to Linnton across the Willamette River. In 1931, the St Johns Bridge was built on the site with 400-ft towers and a main span of 1,207 feet. It is the only steel suspension bridge in Portland.

In the early 1970s, Howard Galbraith, the "honorary mayor" of unincorporated St Johns, got tired of the junkyard state of the area under the eastern end of the bridge. He organized a drive that eventually raised $7.5 million to build a park. After eight years of community fundraising, combined with state, county and city funding, the park was dedicated at a community celebration on May 3, 1980. It got its name from a photo of the St Johns Bridge by Al Monner that appeared on the front page of the Oregon Journal in 1968. Reference was made to its beautiful cathedral-like arches and the park found its name.

In June of 1980, the Cathedral Park Committee sealed a time capsule (complete with ash from Mt St Helens) into the Wall of History in the Memorial Garden in the park. The time capsule will be opened in 2030. Measurements for how to find the capsule (which is covered with a stone that matches the rest of the wall) have been left with the Oregon History Center. Committee chairperson Sharon Roso said, "We want to make sure that in 2030 people will remember there's a celebration due in St Johns."

In 2008, a sculpture by Donald Fels was installed beneath the St Johns Bridge. Drawing on the River reflects back on a century of industry in St Johns and is an homage to both the mills and the workers who ran them. The piece also invokes the river itself, which powered the mills and is the reason the workers settled here.

Park Location or Entrance

N Edison Street and Pittsburg Avenue
Portland, OR 97203

Open hours

Park amenities/activities

Accessible Restroom
Nature Patch
Picnic Table
Plaza
Boat Dock
Boat Ramp
Riverfront Views
Stage (Outdoor)
Dog Off-leash Area
Paths (Paved)

Neighborhood

City section

North