On Saturday, May 1, 2004 the Gold Line (aka Yellow) of Tri-Met's MAX (Metropolitan Area eXpress) opened for the first time to the general public.
It was both a beginning and an ending. To bring us to the first stop on the gold line from the downtown of Portland we took bus 5, the bus which has connected the downtown with North Portland for many years. The opening of MAX along the same route allowed Tri-Met to decommission that part of the bus 5 route. Bus 5 ran all day on May 1st, its last day in North Portland.
We arrived too late to hear all the speeches introducing the first public use of the gold line, but did catch the last group of VIPs in a self-congratulatory mode by the speaker's platform at Rose Quarter. I think Fred Hansen, the director of Tri-Met, is on the right.
The crowds at the opening took the MAX North but had to go in at least two groups. Here the second bunch gets ready to board the just arriving Gold line train.
Marisa and I wait for the next train to take us to the next stop--Albina Mississippi.
This is one of the most interesting spots on the Gold line from the standpoint of its few remaining century-plus buildings, its history and its current status as an interesting place to go! In the late 19th century it was the railroad town for Portland...a separate city known as Albina. By 1891 it became part of Portland. Here is a photo of Interstate Avenue, where the MAX now travels, looking North from the intersection with N. Russell. The building to the right was saved from the wrecking ball by Widmer Brewing in the late 20th century and became its headquarters (the Gasthaus at 929 N. Russell).
Another old, although less interesting building has remained as a hotel/cafe/bar most of its life...and given its current revitalized status by McMenamins. On the left, how the White Eagle Saloon, 836 N. Russell looked in 1906 and on the right, how it looked on May 1, 2004!
Hungry and thirsty Marisa and I sat down there just as it opened at noon!
I enjoyed a Hammerhead Ale with the Hummus Plate and Marisa had the cider and The Dungeon Burger (with the Boca Patty). We both shared onion rings.
Albina Mississippi as well as all of the stops along the Gold MAX line had various booths extolling community projects and initiatives. We picked up new Tri-Met magnets celebrating the new line and many other brochures. In addition to information there was entertainment! We caught a good jazz combo at the Albina stop with drummer Ron Steen, an unknown trumpeter, keyboardist and bassist (pictured is the group with exception of the keyboardist who was out of the frame).
Marisa noticed that all along the MAX line the communities just look better then they have looked in recent memory. Perhaps it is just the freshness of a new thing, but even those businesses which existed before MAX came along looked better and the communities seemed alive with possibility. Before MAX the Palms Motel was just an old, quaint motel along a former main highway...interesting, but somewhat tarnished. Now with MAX along side The Palms Motel takes on a new life and just looks more interesting and relevant to today.
Of course, as Marisa noted, some businesses need a little work to get up to the polish of the new thing on the block. The Alibi, one of the most interesting bars in Portland, could do with some exterior repainting and refinishing. However, on the whole, you can see new businesses popping up and older ones not only reflecting the newness of the MAX but doing their own renovations.
Our intent on this opening day was to visit every stop along the Gold line. It was too hot and our day was already so full that we only made one more stop before returning to North Lombard. We went to the Interstate Firehouse Cultural Center on North Killingsworth, where a Latin band known as Pachamanca was playing.
Before leaving the IFCC , we stopped by a table with information about the art along the Gold line. I am not sure who we spoke with there, but I would bet at least one of them was one of the artists who contributed 2 and 3 dimenional pieces for permanent display at the stops. Most likely they were Valerie Otani, Linda Wysong and Brian Borrello. There is always the concern that such art could be marred by vandals, but the artists believe much has been done to protect the art. The community, they said, will protect it...and, they also agreed that often vandals will generally respect the art and avoid hitting that in favor of some neutral target.
The Gold line art project takes advantage of this and incorporates art into the very design of most of the stops. At the Killingsworth stop by IFCC the supports to the shelter are colorful mosaics and the metal grates guarding the tracks take on an interesting geometric pattern.
Even the electric boxes at each station, normally just a blank canvas available to "taggers", are occupied by art commissioned by Tri-Met. The 2 on the left are at the Killingsworth station, the one on the right is from the Albina station.
There is also art on the footpaths and flooring of the stations and often a 3-dimensional focal piece, such as this one at Albina.
The Gold Line opening for us was incomplete...we didn't see everything before we returned to North Lombard and the connecting bus 75 home.
However, we don't intend to ignore the Gold Line in the coming days. We expect to ride the MAX a great deal and continue to explore the communities and businesses along the way.
There's no place like home...
There's no place like home...