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Willamette Falls set to reopen to public for first time in 100 years

Construction work on the Willamette Falls Riverwalk Project will begin soon
Construction work on the Willamette Falls Riverwalk Project will begin soon
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Construction work on the Willamette Falls Riverwalk Project will begin soon
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Construction work on the Willamette Falls Riverwalk Project will begin soon
Willamette Falls is the most significant waterfall in the area and one of the most largest in the country
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Willamette Falls is the most significant waterfall in the area and one of the most largest in the country
Willamette Falls is cited as the second-largest waterfall in the United States by volume, and it is also the 17th largest worldwide
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Willamette Falls is cited as the second-largest waterfall in the United States by volume, and it is also the 17th largest worldwide
Though long off-limits for the general public, the site contains several industrial buildings in various states of dilapidation
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Though long off-limits for the general public, the site contains several industrial buildings in various states of dilapidation
Longterm plans for the area include new housing and commercial buildings, and recreational spaces
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Longterm plans for the area include new housing and commercial buildings, and recreational spaces
Snøhetta, along with Mayer/Reed and Dialog, recently unveiled its preliminary proposal for a riverwalk planned for Willamette Falls
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Snøhetta, along with Mayer/Reed and Dialog, recently unveiled its preliminary proposal for a riverwalk planned for Willamette Falls

The largest waterfall in the Pacific Northwest and one of the most significant in the entire United States, Oregon City's Willamette Falls, has remained closed to the general public for around a century due to its use as an industrial center. However, as part of a larger scheme to redevelop the area, work will soon begin on building a new riverwalk along the edge of the falls.

Willamette Falls is cited by those involved as the second-largest waterfall in the United States by volume, and is also the 17th largest worldwide. The site contains several industrial buildings in various states of dilapidation, some of which were in use quite recently, including the Blue Heron Paper Mill.

Snøhetta, along with Mayer/Reed and Dialog, was given the nod for the redevelopment project following an international architecture competition. The current renders depict a hands-off plan that will largely maintain the existing landscape, with the addition of safety barriers and a path that comes close to the water's edge and snakes around – and into – the existing industrial buildings. It's early days yet though, and Snøhetta plans to consult with locals and refine its proposal further in the coming weeks.

Willamette Falls is cited as the second-largest waterfall in the United States by volume, and it is also the 17th largest worldwide
Willamette Falls is cited as the second-largest waterfall in the United States by volume, and it is also the 17th largest worldwide

"We believe that the site and the history it holds is a sublime, one-of-a-kind landscape that should not be upstaged by the hand of any designer," says Michelle Delk, Snøhetta’s Director of Landscape Architecture. "We are inspired by the complex strata of the site and its deep cultural history. By protecting, reusing, reducing, and adding, we will integrate and amplify the site’s strata into the Riverwalk."

Construction work on the Willamette Falls Riverwalk Project is due to begin sometime this (northern) summer. Longterm plans for the general area include new housing and commercial buildings, and recreational spaces.

Sources: Snøhetta, Rediscover The Falls

5 comments
mgb
Speaks volumes about the state and national governments that allowed such an ugly industrial complex to be built in a place that should have been reserved as a national or state park.
Hutchy
This is also the site of the world's first consumer AC power source, supplying part of Portland when it was built.
Kevin Ritchey
I live about 20 miles from there. Always wanted to see such a thing happen. Long overdue.
mystixa
Its not really all that much too look at. It has a large volume of water but its not really park worthy on a national scale.
OjiwabiR.Bedoui
Above negative comments aside - this wonderful idea/ project is long overdue, and will permit future generations a closeup visit to a beautiful landscape of Oregon uniqueness.