Oregon City Municipal Elevator – “The Only Vertical Street in North America”

Elevator from the top

Need a quick stop to get out and stretch your legs while traveling in the Portland area? Here’s a fun little one at Oregon City. It’s called the Oregon City Municipal Elevator.

Oregon City was first built along the river and as it grew it of course grew up onto the bluffs above the river. American Indians had made trails up that way, so in 1867 the settlers built steps along the trails – 722 of them! In 1912 the residents finally voted to build an elevator, Now, obviously it was not like it looks today. It took several minutes to get to the top. Over the years the elevator has been rebuilt and upgraded.

We drove up to the top of the bluff and there was a small parking lot there as well as street parking.

The glass room at the top is open on one side so you can just walk right in.

View from Oregon Elevator

There is a beautiful view along with old pictures, the story of the elevator, directional and informational signs.

Map on floor.

On the floor is a sort of map that shows the various streets from that position.

When you push the button for the elevator and door opens, there’s a little surprise waiting. A woman was seated behind a glass wall. She is the operator and was very friendly and willing to answer questions.

The elevator is 131 feet high and now takes about 15 seconds to ride to the bottom, where you exit through a tunnel and end up out on the street. You can also exit directly to the right of the elevator when you get off and go out to a street that way.

The tunnel is lined with old pictures of the building of the tunnel.

Tunnel to elevator

View of elevator from below

You can of course, park at the bottom and ride to the top. And the best part of this little excursion – it’s free!

The elevator operates Monday through Saturday 6:45am-7pm and on Sundays from 11am-7pm.

So next time you need a quick little distraction on the road, check out the Oregon Municipal Elevator which, according to the Oregon City Public Works website is “one of only four municipal elevators in the world and “Elevator Street” remains the only “vertical street” in North America.”

Getting there: The elevator is located at 625 Center St., Oregon City, Oregon. From I-205 north or south, take exit 9 to Oregon City/Gladstone. Turn left onto McLoughlin Blvd/Ore-99E. Turn left onto 10th Street. 10th turns into Singer Hill Rd. which turns into 7th St. From there turn right onto Center Street and you are there!

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Categories: Historical, Oregon, Roadside Attraction | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “Oregon City Municipal Elevator – “The Only Vertical Street in North America”

  1. Sue

    Your directions say this is off I-405. It should be exit off of I-205 instead. The remaining instructions are accurate.

    • Good catch! Although I grew up in Oregon, I guess I’ve lived in Washington too long now and have replaced 205 with 405 in my brain 🙂 It’s fixed now. Thank you!

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