Friday, August 27, 2010

A Guide to Portland's Hidden Stairways

Laura O. Foster's books about walks in and around Portland are some of our bestselling books. Her first book was Portland Hill Walks: Twenty Explorations in Parks and Neighborhoods. Her next book was Portland City Walks: Twenty Explorations in and around Town. Now comes her long-awaited stairs book: The Portland Stairs Book: Walks, View, Stories, just published by Timber Press.

This charming, pocket-size guide offers a guide to the intriguing and heart-pumping hidden stairways found throughout Portland. From Mount Tabor's 282-step climb, to the glass cupola atop 115 steps in the old Pioner Courthouse, Laura guides you through them all, providing trivia, stories, and stair vocabulary along the way.

Laura, who moved here in the 1980s from the midwest and discovered Portland's treasure trove of stairs, has this to say about neighborhood staircases: "There is something ineffably 'other' about a neighborhood staircase. It's not a road. Not a trail. Not a multi-use path. A staircase is a tangible concession that no, indeed, roads cannot be carved wherever humans want them. Their slightly subversive, escapist nature attracts urban explorers, runners, walkers, and anyone else who cannot comprehend how mall-walking could be a pleasurable activity."

The book offers helpful maps and directions, as well as photographs that make you want to be there now. The stair list at the back of the book covers a total of 207 public exterior staircases -- 10,155 steps in all. And in case you're wondering if Laura walked every stair in the book, the answer is yes, she did!

We're expecting this book to fly out of the store, like a ball tumbling down a flight of stairs tucked away in a tree-lined neighborhood, so don't delay coming in for yours.You might want to buy a few -- they'll make perfect gifts!

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