By: Luisa Anderson
Nearly 7,000 people call Jefferson Westside Neighbors
home, but on a Wednesday morning, you wouldn’t
Traveling through the heart of the old neighborhood, I crossed paths with only a handful of faces. I passed a man bundled up to the tip of his nose, braving the stale cold to walk his dog around the block. Another man and a woman sat on a bench in Monroe Park, their breath like smoke rising above them. On a front porch, a woman took a slow drag on a cigarette.
Roughly stretching from West 18th Avenue and part of Willamette Street all the way to West 7th Avenue and Chambers, Jefferson Westside was quiet on this particular morning. Most people seemed to be coming or going with little pause in between, and the screeching of cars and bicycle breaks confirmed this.
Heading down Van Buren Street, I saw my first gathering of people. A man strummed a worn guitar while a woman read a book outside of the New Frontier Market. I noticed the market’s beer and wine selections colorfully written on white boards against their windows.
The popular patisserie Sweet Life and The Divine Cupcake are sweet tooth staples here. Jefferson Westside boasts many small and quirky businesses in the middle of residential life. The further I traveled, the more apparent the antiquity of the neighborhood became. The Red Cane Theater is reminiscent of something from the 1970s, while most housing looks to date between the 1950s and the 1970s. Aside from this, I came across a few slightly updated buildings, like the Lane County Historical Museum and the Eugene Faith Center.
The scenery dramatically changed as I ended my journey through the neighborhood’s boundary. I entered the familiarity of Eugene’s bustling downtown, traveling through 4-lane traffic with the view of glass buildings in the distance. As I left, I still had the image of Jefferson Westside in my mind: it’s quaint eateries and aged houses. I missed the stillness and antiquity of it all.