PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Take one of six public elevators to the top floor of Multnomah County’s new $324.5 million courthouse, and you’ll discover what its judicial workers and criminally accused likely already know: One of the best views of Portland belongs to the people.
Standing 324 feet tall, the building cost taxpayers more than $1 million a foot. Since its grand opening on Oct. 5, 2020, the county has asked citizens to limit visits to those with strict courthouse business. But with COVID-19 cases on the decline in 2022, the public may finally want to take a look at the incredible views it has afforded itself.
“The views from the central courthouse are spectacular,” Multnomah Circuit Court Public Information Analyst Rachel McCarthy told KOIN.
Lining the western bank of the Willamette River, the courthouse offers a publicly accessible, 17th-floor lobby where anyone can enjoy unobstructed, wrap-around views of the Portland skyline and its backdrop of picturesque mountain volcanoes. Once relegated to penthouse dwellers and posh corner offices, some of the city’s best waterfront views, from Steel Bridge to Ross Island, are now accessible to anyone from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. every weekday.
Made unavailable to the public during much of the pandemic, the Portland Aerial Tram that runs from the South Waterfront to OHSU’s Marquam Hill campus was reopened to the public on May 9, and offers equally spectacular views at $5.65 per trip. But with free elevator rides that zip to the top floor at 701 feet per minute, the courthouse officially offers Portland’s most affordable landscape. Whether or not the county courthouse becomes a tourist attraction like the aerial tram has yet to be seen.
“I can’t speak to whether the building could become somewhat of a tourist destination but the building does have limits to its use because it is a courthouse requiring tight security and also has members of the public doing business that may be personal and sensitive in nature, such as responding to an eviction or filing a protective order,” McCarthy said. “We don’t necessarily know in advance which areas of the building will be particularly crowded on a certain day or where sensitive matters are being held.”
The new Multnomah County Courthouse is located at 1200 SW 1st Ave. in downtown Portland. Masks are still required inside the courthouse. All courthouse visitors are subject to airport-style security checks upon entry.