Behind the Walk Project
The Walk of the Heroines realizes a vision — of a special place to honor the women who have illuminated our lives. This innovative, educational park gives artistic recognition to women's vital contributions. Whether as teacher, scientist, business or political leader, artist, or athlete, or in the more private roles of mother, sister, friend, or volunteer, women shape our lives, our culture, and our society.
The park includes an Educational Kiosk displaying heroine stories, gardens, artistic paving, sculptures, a fountain, a stage, and naming walls. Thirty Quotations by extraordinary women from wide-ranging fields of knowledge throughout history are inscribed on granite paving bands. You may view all these features here.
Portland’s Walk of the Heroines pays tribute to the rich spectrum of women's activities, honoring women, living or deceased, from diverse backgrounds. Their stories challenge us to develop new meanings of heroism and deepen our appreciation for the breadth of women’s private as well as public contributions. As you read the stories you will find common threads that run through women's lives across the divides of time, place, and culture and uncover new connections between those living and those who have gone before. Here the Walk carries a powerful legacy for future generations.
First conceived in 1998 by faculty affiliated with the (then) Women’s Studies program at PSU, the Walk was developed through a close university/community partnership. Community members representing diverse cultural backgrounds provided input into the design and served on the Honorary Council. Many professionals volunteered their expertise to realize this pioneering project. Over the years from conception to completion, a group of talented volunteers raised more than $2.6 million from committed donors who shared the vision. The park was designed in 2002 by award-winning landscape architects, Mayer/Reed, with funding from the Associated Students of Portland State University. In that same year, the architectural plan was unanimously approved by the City of Portland Design Review Commission. Construction of the first phase was completed in June 2009 and the second phase in June 2011.
The Walk of the Heroines extends the educational mission of the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (WGSS) program into the community. As the project moved forward, decisions were governed by a set of key commitments reflecting those of the WGSS program.
The Walk is open to any individual or group who wants to honor a woman significant to them.
All women’s contributions are valued and a broad range of communities are to be included in the planning, development, and implementation phases of the project.
Women are recognized in a democratic spirit, while different levels of financial contributions of donors also are acknowledged.
No names of women are “under foot.” Heroine names are artfully engraved on curved naming walls.
This vibrant cultural space is to reflect the diversity of women’s accomplishments.
Extending the project’s reach, the Walk of the Heroines Educational Fund supports student scholarships and an annual public lecture through the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies(WGSS) Program at Portland State University. The beautiful stage is available for events that reflect the mission of the WGSS Program. The space is open to the public as well as the campus; community organizations, schools and youth groups, spiritual organizations, families, are invited to use the garden for cultural events, ceremonies, and gatherings. Conferences held at PSU are welcome to include in their conference program receptions and performances as well as conference events. The Walk’s location in front of Hoffmann Hall, the largest classroom space on campus, makes it an ideal location for these purposes.
Over eighteen hundred individuals and organizations contributed to this project. Their dedication and support were essential to our success and we are deeply grateful. Here we wish to especially recognize a group of donors who not only gave generously but also believed in the value of this project and held to the vision of the Walk of the Heroines over many years.
The Associated Students of Portland State University
The Flora Family Foundation
Providence Health & Services
Jack and Lynn Loacker
M. Albin and Nancy Jubitz
The Frances Lenore Jones Estate
The Meyer Memorial Trust
Pei Ling Charitable Trust
The Burns Family
Mark Edlen and Ann Payne Edlen
Cynthia, Jamey, David, and Elizabeth Hampton
The Fahey Horton Family
The Lemelson Foundation
The Harold & Arlene Schnitzer CARE Foundation
Peter and Julie Stott