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Neighborhood Plans Alder Street Mural

The Alder Street Advocates neighborhood group is planning a transportation-themed mural to be painted on the street surface of Alder Street between 19th and 24th avenues. The design and painting of the mural will happen through the collaborative efforts of people who live in the neighborhood. 

Grant applicant Allen Hancock says the applicants have gone door to door and found 50 people who are interested in participating. “Not only because they want to create some art and make the street beautiful, but because they want to meet their neighbors,” he says.

Hancock is hoping the mural will increase the feeling of community in the neighborhood and pay tribute to Alder Street’s unique transportation history, such as the old trolley line from 1912 and contraflow bicycle lanes that were installed in the 1970s between 13th and 18th avenues. He notes that the contraflow bike lane, which made traffic two-way for bikes but one-way for other vehicles, was one of the first in the country.

“At the time that was really an unusual thing — to close a street off so just bicycles could go through it? That was crazy,” Hancock says.

Portland is home to several street murals, and there is one in Eugene on the intersection of Garfield Street and 22nd Avenue. Katie Geiser was one of the project coordinators for the Garfield mural. She says after the mural was painted, “the neighborhood really started blossoming in terms of people being drawn and seeing the appeal, and it made the statement of the kind of place they want to live.”

Hancock says this project is different because it will utilize a corridor of five blocks rather than a single intersection.

“More than likely what’s going to happen is we’ll see some sort of repeating design or theme,” Hancock says. He adds that the mural will be painted on the street’s surface using a city-approved stain or anti-slip additive.

Neighborhoods Program Coordinator Cindy Clarke says the applicants will have to collaborate on the design with the Public Works Department.

“We want to make sure from a safety standpoint that the mural is safe, that the design is not distracting and that it’s something everyone can live with,” Clarke says.

Alder Street Advocates has raised the equivalent of $5,402 in pledges, including labor, and is applying for $2,850 more through the city’s Neighborhood Matching Grants program. The grant will award a total of $30,000 to neighborhood projects aimed at encouraging community involvement and building relationships. 

“This year it’s really competitive,” Clarke says. “It’s been competitive in the past, but this year the ask is almost double what’s available in funding.”