University Park / by Chris Bonner

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University Park neighborhood was named for the small private Catholic college, University of Portland, funded in 1901. Despite the neighborhood's name, it is not a traditional “college neighborhood” with abundant apartment buildings, cafes, and cheap eats. University Park is a quiet residential neighborhood with only one commercial corridor–a section of North Lombard–on its northern boundary.

The University is situated at the Southwestern tip of the neighborhood, overlooking the Willamette River. From the overlook, you get a view of the St. Johns bridge and the nearby railroad bridge. The University of Portland campus is lovely and many residents enjoy the winding and scenic bike trail along Willamette Blvd. The seasonal UP Theatre productions also draw local residents.

University Park has a mix of old bungalow homes, mid-century ranch properties, and new construction. There are wonderful areas with beautifully improved homes and some still in transition. Much of the area feels young and vibrant. The beautiful homes and buildings and old growth trees make this a very livable neighborhood.


Commuters have numerous options: a quick and easy bike ride to downtown via bike lane nearly the whole way, great mass transit options via bus and the Max light rail train located on Interstate Avenue and a 10-20 minute drive to downtown Portland via car. Residents can also drive north to cross the St. Johns bridge to avoid I-5 during busy commute times.

There is one public elementary school in the neighborhood, Astor School, Casita Montessori School which offers primary and elementary education, and Holy Cross Catholic School (K-8). The closest middle schools are George Middle School in St Johns and Ockley Green Middle School in Overlook.

Residents use the Jantzen Beach shopping center (Target, Best Buy, Home Depot, Michaels), the New Seasons Market on the northern edge of the neighborhood, and Safeway and Fred Meyer in nearby St. Johns. There are also weekend farmer's markets in St Johns and Kenton.


The University of Portland (UP) is a private Roman Catholic university and is affiliated with the Congregation of Holy Cross. It is the sister school of the University of Notre Dame. Founded in 1901, UP has a student body of about 3,900 students. It is widely known for its women's soccer program, which won the 2002 and 2005 Division I NCAA Women's Soccer Championships. UP is ranked 6th in the west for Regional Universities by U.S. News and World Report. It is the only university in Oregon to offer, at one location, a college of arts and sciences; a graduate school; and schools of business, education, engineering, and nursing.

The first institution located on Waud's Bluff was Portland University, which was established by the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1891. Amid financial setbacks following the Panic of 1893, Portland University vacated the Bluff Campus to hold classes from 1896 to 1897 in East Portland, where it was joined temporarily by the recently insolvent College of Puget Sound.

According to University of Portland tradition, Archbishop Alexander Christie, the head of the Archdiocese of Oregon City, saw a large building on the bluff from aboard a ship on the nearby Willamette River. He learned that it was called West Hall and had been unoccupied for several years since the closure of Portland University.

The Archdiocese purchased West Hall (renamed Waldschmidt Hall in 1992) and the surrounding campus with financial assistance from the Congregation of Holy Cross. The new institution was named Columbia University after the nearby Columbia River. The university opened its doors to 52 young men on September 5, 1901, with eight Roman Catholic priests from the local archdiocese serving as professors. At the request of the archbishop, the Congregation of the Holy Cross agreed to take over ownership in 1902.

After two decades, Columbia University achieved junior college status. In 1925, the university's College of Arts and Sciences was founded, and in 1929, a class of seven men was awarded the university's first bachelor's degrees. In 1935, the school took on its present name. The 1930s also saw the St. Vincent Hospital School incorporated to the University as the School of Nursing, and the creation of the School of Business. In 1948 the school of Engineering was founded, followed by the Graduate School in 1950 and the School of Education in 1962.

University of Portland admitted women to all courses of study in 1951. Prior to this transition, Marylhurst University had been the only Catholic institution of higher learning to serve the educational needs of Oregon women. In 1967 ownership of the school was transferred from the Congregation of Holy Cross to a board of Regents. Multnomah College became part of the University of Portland in 1969.

There are numerous parks and community gardens in the neighborhood and nearby. Portsmouth Park is located at N. Stanford Avenue and Depauw Street where you will find a playground, soccer and softball fields. Portsmouth Community Garden is located at N. Hunt Street and Courtenay Avenue. McKenna Park at N. Wall Avenue and Princeton Street, has a basketball court, picnic tables, playground, and soccer field.

McCoy Park and Community Garden are located at N. Trenton Street and Newman Avenue. There is a basketball court, disabled access picnic area, disabled access play area, disabled access restroom, paths – paved, picnic shelter, picnic site – reservable, picnic tables, playground, spray feature, and public art. 

Northgate Park is located at N. Geneva Avenue and Fessenden Street.  Amenities include a baseball field, picnic tables, playground, soccer field, softball field, lighted tennis court and water play feature. University Park is located at 9009 N. Foss Avenue and amenities include picnic tables, playground, soccer and softball fields.