Ten years ago or so now, we decided to leave our beloved West Hills of Portland and head down to Salem for a great opportunity for my husband. I was not thrilled, which is an under statement, about leaving Portland because everyone knew that Salem was ugly and that it sucked. Never mind that I had never lived in, or even visited Salem, but everyone knew that it was ugly.
It took me a while to adjust to the slower pace of Salem, and I have learned to love the fact that I don’t sit in traffic. As a parent there are many things I appreciate about Salem and it’s slower paced lifestyle for my family. I like to take photos and so I’m always looking at things that are interesting or beautiful. 10 years ago, Salem wasn’t winning any beauty awards with me.
In the last three years…that has changed.
I am on forums all of the time, and Salem Oregon constantly gets bashed by people who lived here a long time ago. My first question is, have you been here in the past three years? If not, then Salem is a differently city then you know. I decided I would do an Ugly Duckling to Swan Series about Salem because I do think that Salem is becoming a swan. Not there yet, but these things take time.
There are many great projects that have gone on since I have lived here, rejuvinating this city. Probably one of my recent favorites is the Union pedestrian bridge.
When I moved to Salem Oregon I was stunned at how poorly the city used the riverfront. The Willmette River cuts through the city just like it does in Portland. The riverfront park was brand new when I moved here, the carousel yet to be open. On the other side of the river was an undeveloped Wallace Marine Park. Today both parks are developed and they took the old railroad bridge connecting the two and make it a pedestrian bridge. It opened in September 2008 and connects the two parks. It is a GREAT addition to making Salem more liveable, walkable, and our park system more enjoyable.
So if you are considering moving to the Salem Oregon area from another part of the country, I encourage you to be cautious about the opinions of former residents who haven’t been here recently. Rest assured that the residents of Salem are very much interested in improving this city and this bridge is one of the many projects that is turning this “ugly ducking” of a city, into a swan.