Wayfinding: Transition Place

Station Street to National Avenue

Once the land was made solid by the filling in the estuary, Pacific Central Station was built. Amazing to think of the vision and certitude that raised a grand stone building in the midst of what was once a teeming wetland. One of our walk participants said that she heard that the land here still feels the swell and ebb of the tides, and rises and falls accordingly.

Thornton Park in front of the station is an arboretum, with large shade trees from many corners of the world; if you are passing by in the spring time, the large purple spikes of the Empress trees are astonishing and fragrant.

The stories of the land around the station are unknown to us, though probably available with some searching through the archives. Right now they’re mostly seedy pockets like parking lots and run down buildings, but there may have been warehouses and busy industry at one point. The entire landscape is about to transform again, becoming extremely dense and valuable in city once more: the large parking lot north of National will soon be redeveloped into the new campus of St. Paul’s Hospital, slated to open in 2024.

At this moment, though, it’s still fairly quiet and open. By the time you turn onto National there’s only sporadic traffic, and the weeds are, literally, golden: goldenrod, tansy, St.John’s wort, and more yield lovely dyes; scotch broom works away at fixing nitrogen, offering nectar, and occasionally some weaving or broom-making materials.