A Vision Realized

Portland's 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 Walk 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.

Here, the Walk carries a powerful legacy for future generations.

Our History

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.

Our Philosophy

The Walk of the Heroines extends the educational mission of PSU's Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies 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.

Our Annual Lecture

The annual Walk of the Heroines lecture, held each spring, brings feminist and queer scholars and activists to campus. Past speakers have included critical disability studies scholar Alison Kafer and queer network program coordinator Kiyomi Fujikawa.