Portland’s scientific light rail station

ArmsOne reason for my recent absence was a work trip to Portland, Oregon. While I was there, I suddenly found myself in the most science-inspired light rail station I’ve ever seen.

Washington Park station serves a few attractions: the zoo, the Rose Garden, the Japanese Garden,  the World Forestry Center, and other locations. It’s the deepest subway station in North America, and one of the deepest in the world overall. But even cooler: The entire station is inspired by science – mainly geology.

Full platform

Along both platforms (in each direction) is a platform-length core sample, taken during construction, and above and below it are little science tidbits or illustrations.

Core sample close-up

(That’s a platform full of plant biologists, returning from a conference party at the World Forestry Center.)


Large carnivores

The elevator only stops at two levels, but while you’re inside you can see how far above sea level you are. (I found a video someone took of the elevator in action, where you can see it more clearly)

Distance above sea level

Difficult to see, but the elevator floor indicator says “16 million years ago” and “the present”.


I have a Flickr album with a few other photos from this station, and if you’re curious what else I did in Portland, there’s also an album taken mostly above ground!Screenshot 2014-06-24 09.57.36

4 thoughts on “Portland’s scientific light rail station”

  1. It is one of the coolest stations I’ve ever been to. Did you see the mitosis image (it’s in one of the elevators, I believe).

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