Eugene is home to the University of Oregon
, Bushnell University
, and Lane Community College
Several spots within Eugene are believed to be inspiration for locations in The Simpsons
. This includes Max's Tavern and the Oregon Pioneer
statue on campus.
The city is noted for its natural environment, recreational opportunities (especially bicycling
, and kayaking
), and focus on the arts, along with its history of civil unrest, protests, and green activism. Eugene's official slogan is "A Great City for the Arts and Outdoors".
It is also referred to as the "Emerald City" and as "Track Town, USA".
The Nike corporation
had its beginnings in Eugene.
In 2022, the city will host the 18th Track and Field World Championships
The first people to settle in the Eugene area were known as the Kalapuyans
, also written Calapooia or Calapooya. They made "seasonal rounds," moving around the countryside to collect and preserve local foods, including acorns, the bulbs of the wapato
plants, and berries. They stored these foods in their permanent winter village. When crop activities waned, they returned to their winter villages and took up hunting, fishing, and trading.
They were known as the Chifin Kalapuyans and called the Eugene area where they lived "Chifin", sometimes recorded as "Chafin" or "Chiffin".
Other Kalapuyan tribes occupied villages that are also now within Eugene city limits. Pee-you or Mohawk Calapooians, Winefelly or Pleasant Hill Calapooians, and the Lungtum or Long Tom. They were close-neighbors to the Chifin, intermarried, and were political allies. Some authorities suggest the Brownsville Kalapuyans (Calapooia Kalapuyans) were related to the Pee-you. It is likely that since the Santiam had an alliance with the Brownsville Kalapuyans that the Santiam influence also went as far at Eugene.
According to archeological evidence, the ancestors of the Kalapuyans may have been in Eugene for as long as 10,000 years.
In the 1800s their traditional way of life faced significant changes due to devastating epidemics and settlement, first by French fur traders and later by an overwhelming number of American settlers
Settlement and impact
Kalapuya man, circa 1840
French fur traders
had settled seasonally in the Willamette Valley by the beginning of the 19th century. Their settlements were concentrated in the "French Prairie" community in Northern Marion County but may have extended south to the Eugene area. Having already developed relationships with Native communities through intermarriage and trade, they negotiated for land from the Kalapuyans. By 1828 to 1830 they and their Native wives began year-round occupation of the land, raising crops and tending animals. In this process, the mixed race families began to impact Native access to land, food supply, and traditional materials for trade and religious practices.
In July 1830, "intermittent fever" struck the lower Columbia region and a year later, the Willamette Valley. Natives traced the arrival of the disease, then new to the Northwest, to the U.S. ship, Owyhee, captained by John Dominis. "Intermittent fever" is thought by researchers now to be malaria
According to Robert T. Boyd, an anthropologist at Portland State University, the first three years of the epidemic, "probably constitute the single most important epidemiological event in the recorded history of what would eventually become the state of Oregon". In his book The Coming of the Spirit Pestilence
Boyd reports there was a 92% population loss for the Kalapuyans between 1830 and 1841.
This catastrophic event shattered the social fabric of Kalapuyan society and altered the demographic balance in the Valley. This balance was further altered over the next few years by the arrival of Anglo-American settlers, beginning in 1840 with 13 people and growing steadily each year until within 20 years more than 11,000 American settlers, including Eugene Skinner, had arrived.
As the demographic pressure from the settlers grew, the remaining Kalapuyans were forcibly removed to Indian reservations
. Though some Natives escaped being swept into the reservation, most were moved to the Grand Ronde reservation
Strict racial segregation was enforced and mixed race people, known as Métis
in French, had to make a choice between the reservation and Anglo society. Native Americans could not leave the reservation without traveling papers and white people could not enter the reservation.
Replica of Skinner's original cabin
Eugene Franklin Skinner
, after whom Eugene is named, arrived in the Willamette Valley
in 1846 with 1,200 other settlers that year. Advised by the Kalapuyans to build on high ground to avoid flooding, he erected the first Anglo cabin
on south or west slope of what the Kalapuyans called Ya-po-ah. The "isolated hill" is now known as Skinner's Butte
The cabin was used as a trading post
and was registered as an official post office on January 8, 1850.
At this time the settlement was known by Anglos as Skinner's Mudhole. It was relocated in 1853 and named Eugene City in 1853.
Formally incorporated as a city in 1862, it was named simply Eugene in 1889.
Skinner ran a ferry service across the Willamette River
where the Ferry Street Bridge
The first major educational institution in the area was Columbia College
, founded a few years earlier than the University of Oregon. It fell victim to two major fires in four years, and after the second fire, the college decided not to rebuild again.
The part of south Eugene known as College Hill was the former location of Columbia College. There is no college there today.
The town raised the initial funding to start a public university, which later became the University of Oregon, with the hope of turning the small town into a center of learning. In 1872, the Legislative Assembly
passed a bill creating the University of Oregon as a state institution. Eugene bested the nearby town of Albany
in the competition for the state university. In 1873, community member J.H.D. Henderson
donated the hilltop land for the campus, overlooking the city.
The university first opened in 1876 with the regents electing the first faculty and naming John Wesley Johnson as president. The first students registered on October 16, 1876. The first building was completed in 1877; it was named Deady Hall in honor of the first Board of Regents President and community leader Judge Matthew P. Deady
Eugene grew rapidly throughout most of the twentieth century, with the exception being the early 1980s when a downturn in the timber industry caused high unemployment. By 1985, the industry had recovered and Eugene began to attract more high-tech industries, earning it the moniker the "Emerald Shire". In 2012, Eugene and the surrounding metro area was dubbed the Silicon shire
The first Nike shoe was used in 1972 during the US Olympic trials held in Eugene.
History of civil unrest
Eugene has a long history of community activism, civil unrest, and protest activity.
Eugene's cultural status as a place for alternative thought grew along with the University of Oregon in the turbulent 1960s, and its reputation as an outsider's locale grew with the numerous anarchist protests in the late 1990s. In 2000, the Chicago Tribune
described the city as a “cradle to [the] latest generation of anarchist protesters.”Occupy Eugene
was home to one of the nation's longest-lasting Occupy protests in 2011, with the last protestor leaving the initial Occupy camp on December 27, 2011.
The city received national attention during the summer of 2020, after Black Lives Matter protests in response to the murder of George Floyd
1960s: Counterculture and campus protests
Already a counter-culture haven, Eugene felt the change of the 1960s in a heavy way, with underground groups carrying out bombings on military targets. In September 1967, the Eugene Naval & Marine Corps Reserve Training Center was damaged by a series of explosions and fire, and in November 1967, a bomb exploded at the Air Force ROTC building.
On Sept 30, 1968, unknown anti-capitalists exploded firebombs at the Eugene Armory, causing over $100,000 in damage (approximately $741,000 in 2020), destroying multiple trucks and Jeeps and dealing significant destruction to the city's equipment compound.
Unrest continued throughout 1969 as well, with frequent dynamite attacks on local businesses, newspapers, and Emerald Hall on the University of Oregon campus.
Student activism at the university shaped both campus and Eugene life during the times of social upheaval. Protests at the University of Oregon were the most intensely heated against the Oregon chapter of the ROTC
, which was the embodiment of the war effort in Vietnam and Cambodia
The UO chapter of Students for a Democratic Society
formed in 1965 but came to the forefront of campus activity in 1969, when they first led students to march and demand the removal of campus ROTC. On January 6, 1970, campus demonstrators threw animal blood onto tables at an ROTC recruitment event in order to draw attention to the barbaric war in Vietnam.
Students held a public "People's Trial" of campus president Robert D. Clark
, finding him guilty for "complicity in the actions of U.S. imperialism" by enabling the Oregon ROTC to have a presence on campus.
Throughout January and February 1970, anti-war student activists disrupted ROTC events and demonstrated against the war presence, culminating in unknown perpetrators setting the University of Oregon ROTC building on fire in Esslinger Hall, causing massive damage and destroying draft records of university students.
In March, 150-200 students, led by the campus SDS chapter, attempted to gain entry to McArthur Court
for a concert, setting off a riot that resulted in the arrest of 5 students. On April 15, 1970, the UO faculty voted by a 199-185 margin to allow the ROTC to remain on campus, which immediately led to nearly 100 students ransacking the ROTC building, breaking furniture, windows, and throwing rocks at the property, to which the police used tear gas on campus demonstrators for the first time.
The height of the Vietnam protest movement at UO occurred over three days between April 22 and April 24, 1970. At 11:00 am on the 22nd, between 50 and 100 UO students occupied Johnson Hall
to protest the ROTC’s continued presence on campus, taking over the lobby of the building. The crowd grew to around 300 students by 5:00 pm, when Clark negotiated with the group to allow the protestors to remain in the lobby overnight if they remained peaceful.
The protests disrupted work and on the 24th, Eugene police arrived, arresting 61 protestors, but everything remained peaceful until the National Guard arrived on the scene and escalated the situation by deploying tear gas against the crowd outside the building. News of the National Guard’s involvement led a larger congregation of nearly 2000 students to converge at Emerald Hall in protest of the incident.
On April 26, 1970, around 40 UO students successfully closed 13th Avenue through the university by erecting barricades on either end, calling it "People's Street". This protest successfully forced the Eugene City Council to hold hearings on restricting the street to non-automobile traffic, which passed and soon went into effect.
On October 2, 1970, unidentified perpetrators exploded a bomb in Prince Lucien Hall, causing $75,000 in damage (approximately $511,000 in 2020).
The 1970s saw an increase in community activism. Local activists stopped a proposed freeway and lobbied for the construction of the Washington Jefferson Park
beneath the Washington-Jefferson Street Bridge. Community Councils soon began to form as a result of these efforts.
A notable impact of the turn to community-organized politics came with Eugene Local Measure 51
, a ballot measure in 1978 that repealed a gay rights ordinance approved by the Eugene City Council in 1977 that prohibited discrimination by sexual orientation.
1990s: Anarchist activity
Eugene's constant ability for protest capabilities were made clear at the beginning of the decade. In January 1991, a downtown student-led protest against the Gulf War
drew 1,500 people and resulted in the arrest of 51, including 15 juveniles.
Protesters carried a 10-year-old girl inside a body bag to the front door of the federal building as a symbol of war's innocent deaths.
After the demonstration, a fire was set at a Eugene Marine Corps recruiting station.
Attempts by the city to remove a forest grove at downtown Broadway and Charnelton were met with protests on June 1, 1997. Forty trees in downtown Eugene were cut down to make way for a parking garage project and were met with community resistance. 22 people were arrested and the Register-Guard
ran a front-page photograph showing a photographer being sprayed with pepper spray by the police.
The Eugene force was accused of overreaction and excessive use of force for their flagrant use of pepper spray, which was defended by Republican
mayor Jim Torrey
In the Whitaker District, citizens were further radicalized by the incident and helped spur the activist community, which was already burgeoning due to a lack of affordable housing and growing income inequality in the area.
On June 18, 1999, several months before the 1999 Seattle WTO protests
, Eugene was home to a predecessor riot. Following a two-day conference at the University of Oregon about the dissolution of the country's economic system, a rally against global capitalism enveloped the streets of the downtown area. After the rally, protestors turned to the streets, stopping traffic, burning flags, and smashing windows and electronic equipment.
After police responded with tear gas
and pepper spray
, protesters battled with police for several hours. The tear gas used by the Eugene police affected over 100 people, and 15 were arrested.
Later that year, Eugene activists also played a key role in conjunction with other anarchists in organizing black bloc
tactics during the World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference of 1999 protest activity
Eugene police subsequently claimed that local anarchists were responsible for other attacks on local police officers.
Local activists in turn argued that police needlessly harassed individuals wearing black clothing in response.
Mayor Jim Torrey declared Eugene to be the "Anarchist Capital of the World" in response to the riots, which some embraced.
Seattle police chief Norm Stamper
in his resignation speech after the 1999 WTO protests blamed the majority of the unrest on "Eugene anarchists".
Influential thinkers in Eugene's scene at the time included John Zerzan
, an author known for his contributions to leftist theory and who was an editor for Green Anarchy
, an anarchist magazine based in the city. Anarchists and leftists continued to protest against Torrey throughout his tenure, including gathering each June 1 (the anniversary of the Broadway Place confrontations) to protest against police brutality committed under his control.
One hotspot for protest activity since the 1990s has been the Whitaker
district, located in the northwest of downtown Eugene. Whitaker is primarily a working-class
neighborhood that has become a vibrant cultural hub, center of community and activism and home to alternative artists. It saw an increase of activity in the 1990s after many young people drawn to Eugene's political climate relocated there.
Animal rights groups have had a heavy presence in the Whiteaker, and several vegan
restaurants are located there. According to David Samuels
, the Animal Liberation Front
and the Earth Liberation Front
have had an underground presence in the neighborhood.
The neighborhood is home to a number of communal apartment buildings, which are often organized by anarchist or environmentalist groups. Local activists have also produced independent films and started art galleries, community gardens, and independent media outlets. Copwatch
, Food Not Bombs
, and Critical Mass
are also active in the neighborhood.
21st century unrest
The more visible anarchist scene seemed to have died down after an upswing of several years, but protest activity still remained in Eugene.
Groups such as the Neighborhood Anarchist Collective still maintained an active grassroots network, and the Eugene Share Fair has been used as a resource for organizations to market support.
On June 16, 2000, environmental activists set fire to trucks at a car dealership on Franklin Boulevard.
On the one-year anniversary of the 1999 riots, police again attacked demonstrators, arresting 37 and striking a KLCC
reporter on the head with a baton. Later, while anarchism took a backseat, Eugene's reputation as a potent leftist center increased as overall political support in the city swung liberally.
The Occupy Eugene protests grew out of the Occupy Wall Street
movement which began in New York City on September 17, 2011. The Eugene protesters were concerned about fairness issues regarding wealth-distribution, banking regulation, housing issues and corporate greed
The first protest march was held on October 15, 2011 and the main encampment, located in Washington Jefferson Park
lasted until December 2011. The initial Occupy Eugene demonstrations had over 2,000 attendees and began at Wayne Morse Free Speech Plaza.
2020 George Floyd protests
Eugene's George Floyd/Black Lives Matter protests grew out of the civil unrest that began in Minneapolis
and spread nationwide in May 2020 after the murder of Floyd, an unarmed Black man, by a Minneapolis police officer.
In Eugene, demonstrators turned their attention to surrounding stores on May 29, and disrupted traffic and knocked trash and newsstands into the street in the downtown. Rioters crowded on to Highway I-105 and began setting fire to a nearby road sign.
That night, fires were set and windows were smashed. Around 11 p.m., protestors created a bonfire in the street, consisting of traffic cones, newspapers, signs from local businesses, and other items.
No arrests were made on that night.
Over 2,000 demonstrators attended a Juneteenth
Black Lives Matter protest at Alton Baker Park
, which was designed to draw revenue to Black-owned businesses.
On October 14, 1996, to commemorate the anniversary of Columbus Day
, Earth Liberation Front
activists coordinated several attacks on local fast food chains and oil companies. Two Willamette Chevron
gas station locks were glued and painted with the slogan "504 Years of Genocide" and "Earth Liberation Front". Two Eugene public relation offices of Weyerhauser
were also targeted in a similar manner.
Later in the month, ELF protestors destroyed a U.S. Forest Service
Ranger Station south of Eugene, causing an estimated damage of $5.3 million. These were some of the first examples of eco-defense in the United States.
In September 2000, members of a Eugene-based cell of the ELF burnt down the Eugene Police Department's West University Public Safety Station. Later, in March 2001, activists attacked the same car dealership on Franklin for the second time in 6 months, damaging more than 30 SUVs.
Over 125 different fire attacks were set in the city between 1997 and 2001.
In January 2006, the FBI conducted Operation Backfire
, leading to federal indictment of eleven people, all members of ELF.
Operation Backfire was the largest investigation into radical underground environmental groups in United States history.
Ongoing trials of accused eco-terrorists
kept Eugene in the spotlight for a few years.
According to the United States Census Bureau
, the city has a total area of 43.74 square miles (113.29 km2
), of which 43.72 square miles (113.23 km2
) is land and 0.02 square miles (0.05 km2
) is water.
Eugene is at an elevation of 426 feet (130 m).
Eugene has 23
Like the rest of the Willamette Valley
, Eugene lies in the Marine West Coast
climate zone, with Mediterranean
characteristics. Under the Köppen climate classification scheme, Eugene has a warm-summer Mediterranean climate (KöppenCsb
). Temperatures can vary from cool to warm, with warm, dry summers and cool, wet winters. Spring and fall are also moist seasons, with light rain falling for long periods. The average rainfall is 46.1 inches or 1,170.9 millimetres, with the wettest "rain year" being from July 1973 to June 1974 with 75.59 inches (1,920.0 mm) and the driest from July 2000 to June 2001 with 20.40 inches (518.2 mm).
Winter snowfall does occur, but it is sporadic and rarely accumulates in large amounts: the normal seasonal amount is 4.9 inches or 0.12 metres, but the median is zero.
The record snowfall was 41.7 inches or 1.06 metres of accumulation due to a pineapple express
on January 25–29, 1969.
Ice storms, like snowfall, are rare, but occur sporadically.
The hottest months are July and August, with a normal monthly mean temperature of 66.8 to 66.9 °F (19.3 to 19.4 °C), with an average of 16 days per year reaching 90 °F or 32.2 °C. The coolest month is December, with a mean temperature of 39.7 °F (4.3 °C), and there are 53 mornings per year with a low at or below freezing, and 2.7 afternoons with highs not exceeding the freezing mark.
The result of rare heavy snow in January 2008
Eugene's average annual temperature is 52.5 °F (11.4 °C), and annual precipitation at 46.1 inches (1,170 mm).
Eugene is more wet and slightly cooler on average than Portland
. Despite being about 100 miles (160 km) south and having only a slightly higher elevation, Eugene has a more continental climate
, less subject to the maritime air that blows inland from the Pacific Ocean via the Columbia River. Eugene's normal annual mean minimum is 41.6 °F (5.3 °C),
compared to 45.7 °F (7.6 °C) in Portland;
in August, the gap in the normal mean minimum widens to 51.1 °F (10.6 °C) and 58.0 °F (14.4 °C) for Eugene and Portland, respectively.
Average winter temperatures (and summer high temperatures) are similar for the two cities. This disparity may be additionally caused by Portland's urban heat island
, where the combination of black pavement and urban energy use raises nighttime temperatures.
Extreme temperatures range from −12 °F (−24 °C), recorded on December 8, 1972, to 108 °F (42 °C) on August 9, 1981; the record cold daily maximum is 19 °F (−7 °C), recorded on December 13, 1919, while, conversely, the record warm daily minimum is 71 °F (22 °C) on July 22, 2006.
Air quality and allergies
Eugene is downwind of Willamette Valley grass seed farms.
The combination of summer grass pollen and the confining shape of the hills around Eugene make it "the area of the highest grass pollen counts in the USA (>1,500 pollen grains/m3
These high pollen counts have led to difficulties for some track athletes who compete in Eugene. In the Olympic trials in 1972, "Jim Ryun
won the 1,500 after being flown in by helicopter because he was allergic to Eugene's grass seed pollen."
Further, six-time Olympian Maria Mutola
abandoned Eugene as a training area "in part to avoid allergies".
According to the 2010 census
, Eugene's population was 156,185.
The population density was 3,572.2 people per square mile. There were 69,951 housing units at an average density of 1,600 per square mile.
Those age 18 and over accounted for 81.8% of the total population.
of any race accounted for 7.8% of the total population.
Of the non-Hispanics, 82% were White, 1.3% Black or African American, 0.8% Native American, 4% Asian, 0.2% Pacific Islander, 0.2% some other race alone, and 3.4% were of two or more races.
Females represented 51.1% of the total population, and males represented 48.9%. The median age in the city was 33.8 years.
The census of 2000 showed there were 137,893 people, 58,110 households, and 31,321 families residing in the city of Eugene. The population density was 3,404.8 people per square mile (1,314.5/km2
). There were 61,444 housing units at an average density of 1,516.4 per square mile (585.5/km2
). The racial makeup of the city was 88.15% White, down from 99.5% in 1950,
3.57% Asian, 1.25% Black or African American, 0.93% Native American, 0.21% Pacific Islander, 2.18% from other races, and 3.72% from two or more races. 4.96% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 58,110 households, of which 25.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 40.6% were married couples living together, 9.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 46.1% were non-families. 31.7% of all households were made up of individuals, and 9.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.27 and the average family size was 2.87. In the city, the population was 20.3% under the age of 18, 17.3% from 18 to 24, 28.5% from 25 to 44, 21.8% from 45 to 64, and 12.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33 years. For every 100 females, there were 96.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 94.0 males. The median income for a household in the city was $35,850, and the median income for a family was $48,527. Males had a median income of $35,549 versus $26,721 for females. The per capita income for the city was $21,315. About 8.7% of families and 17.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 14.8% of those under age 18 and 7.1% of those age 65 or over.
Luckey's Club Cigar Store is one of the oldest bars in Oregon. Tad Luckey, Sr., purchased it in 1911, making it one of the oldest businesses in Eugene. The "Club Cigar", as it was called in the late 19th century, was for many years a men-only salon. It survived both the Great Depression
, partly because Eugene was a dry town before the end of Prohibition.
Sarvery Winery courtesy of Eugene, Cascades & Coast
The city has over 25 breweries, offers a variety of dining options with a local focus; the city is surrounded by wineries. The most notable fungi here is the truffle; Eugene hosts the annual Oregon Truffle Festival in January.
Until July 2008, Hynix
Semiconductor America had operated a large semiconductor plant in west Eugene. In late September 2009, Uni-Chem of South Korea announced its intention to purchase the Hynix site for solar cell
However, this deal fell through and as of late 2012, is no longer planned.
In 2015, semiconductor manufacturer Broadcom
purchased the plant with plans to upgrade and reopen it. The company abandoned these plans and put it up for sale in November 2016.
The footwear repair product Shoe Goo
is manufactured by Eclectic Products, based in Eugene.
Run Gum, an energy gum created for runners, also began its life in Eugene. Run Gum was created by track athlete Nick Symmonds
and track and field coach Sam Lapray in 2014.
Burley Design LLC
produces bicycle trailers and was founded in Eugene by Alan Scholz out of a Saturday Market
business in 1978. Eugene is also the birthplace and home of Bike Friday bicycle manufacturer Green Gear Cycling.
In 2012, the Eugene metro region was dubbed the Silicon Shire
for its growing tech industry.
According to Eugene's 2017 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report,
the city's top employers are:
Arts and culture
In 2005, the city council unanimously approved a new slogan for the city: "World's Greatest City for the Arts & Outdoors". While Eugene has a vibrant arts community for a city its size, and is well situated near many outdoor opportunities, this slogan was frequently criticized by locals as embarrassing and ludicrous.
In early 2010, the slogan was changed to "A Great City for the Arts & Outdoors."
Eugene's Saturday Market
, open every Saturday from April through November,
was founded in 1970 as the first "Saturday Market" in the United States.
It is adjacent to the Lane County Farmer's Market in downtown Eugene. All vendors must create or grow all their own products. The market reappears as the "Holiday Market" between Thanksgiving and New Year's in the Lane County Events Center at the fairgrounds.
Eugene is noted for its "community inventiveness." Many U.S. trends in community development originated in Eugene. The University of Oregon's participatory planning
process, known as The Oregon Experiment
, was the result of student protests in the early 1970s. The book of the same name is a major document in modern enlightenment thinking in planning and architectural circles. The process, still used by the university in modified form, was created by Christopher Alexander
, whose works also directly inspired the creation of the Wiki
. Some research for the book A Pattern Language
, which inspired the Design Patterns
movement and Extreme Programming
, was done by Alexander in Eugene. Not coincidentally, those engineering movements also had origins here. Decades after its publication, A Pattern Language
is still one of the best-selling books on urban design.
In the 1970s, Eugene was packed with cooperative and community projects. It still has small natural food stores in many neighborhoods, some of the oldest student cooperatives in the country, and alternative schools have been part of the school district since 1971. The old Grower's Market, downtown near the Amtrak
depot, is the only food cooperative in the U.S. with no employees. It is possible to see Eugene's trend-setting non-profit tendencies in much newer projects, such as the Tango Center and the Center for Appropriate Transport
. In 2006, an initiative began to create a tenant-run development process for downtown Eugene.
In the fall of 2003, neighbors noticed "an unassuming two-acre remnant orchard tucked into the Friendly Area Neighborhood"
had been put up for sale by its owner, a resident of New York City.
Learning a prospective buyer had plans to build several houses on the property, they formed a nonprofit organization called Madison Meadow
in June 2004 in order to buy the property and "preserve it as undeveloped space in perpetuity."
In 2007 their effort was named Third Best Community Effort by the Eugene Weekly
and by the end of 2008 they had raised enough money to purchase the property.
The City of Eugene has an active Neighborhood Program. Several neighborhoods are known for their green activism. Friendly Neighborhood has a highly popular neighborhood garden established on the right of way of a street never built. There are a number of community gardens on public property. Amazon Neighborhood has a former church turned into a community center. Whiteaker hosts a housing co-op that dates from the early 1970s that has re-purposed both their parking lots into food production and play space. An unusual eco-village with natural building techniques and large shared garden can be found in Jefferson Westside neighborhood. A several block area in the River Road Neighborhood is known as a permaculture
hotspot with an increasing number of suburban homes trading grass for garden, installing rain water catchment systems, food producing landscapes and solar retrofits. Several sites have planted gardens by removing driveways. Citizen volunteers are working with the City of Eugene to restore a 65-tree filbert
grove on public property. There are deepening social and economic networks in the neighborhood.
Annual cultural events
- Asian Celebration, presented by the Asian Council of Eugene and Springfield, takes place in February at the Lane County Fairgrounds.
- The KLCC Microbrew Festival is held in February at the Lane County Fairgrounds. It provides participants with an introduction to a large range of microbrewery and craft beers, which play an important role in Pacific Northwest culture and the economy.
- Mount Pisgah Arboretum, which resides at the base of Mount Pisgah, holds a Wildflower Festival in May and a Mushroom Festival and Plant Sale in October.
- Oregon Festival of American Music, or OFAM is held annually in the early summer.
- Art and the Vineyard festival, held around the Fourth of July at Alton Baker Park, is the principal fundraiser for the Maude Kerns Art Center.
- The Oregon Bach Festival is a major international festival in July, hosted by the University of Oregon.
- The nonprofit Oregon Country Fair takes place in July in nearby Veneta.
- The Lane County Fair occurs in July at the Lane County Fairgrounds.
- The Eugene/Springfield Pride Festival is held annually on the second Saturday in August from noon to 7:00 p.m. at Alton Baker Park. A part of Eugene LGBT culture since 1993, it provides a lighthearted and supportive social venue for the LGBT community, families, and friends.
- Eugene Celebration is a three-day block party that usually takes place in the downtown area in August or September. The SLUG Queen coronation in August, a pageant with a campy spin, crowns a new SLUG Queen who "rains" over the Eugene Celebration Parade and is an unofficial ambassador of Eugene.
Eugene is home to numerous cultural organizations, including the Eugene Symphony
, the Eugene Ballet
, the Eugene Opera
, the Eugene Concert Choir
, the Bushnell University Community Choir, the Oregon Mozart Players
, the Oregon Bach Festival
, the Oregon Children's Choir
, the Eugene-Springfield Youth Orchestras
, Ballet Fantastique
and Oregon Festival of American Music
. Principal performing arts venues include the Hult Center for the Performing Arts
, The John G. Shedd Institute for the Arts
("The Shedd"), Matthew Knight Arena
, Beall Concert Hall and the Erb Memorial Union
ballroom on the University of Oregon campus, the McDonald Theatre
, and W.O.W. Hall
Eugene is home to "Classical Gas
" Composer and two-time Grammy award winner Mason Williams
who spent his years as a youth living between his parents in Oakridge, Oregon
and Oklahoma. Mason Williams puts on a yearly Christmas show at the Hult center for performing arts with a full orchestra produced by author, audio engineer and University of Oregon professor Don Latarski
, noted jazz pianist and musical director for many of Woody Allen's films, designs and hosts the annual Now Hear This! jazz festival at the Oregon Festival of American Music (OFAM). OFAM and the Hult Center
routinely draw major jazz talent for concerts.
Eugene's visual arts community is supported by over 20 private art galleries
and several organizations, including Maude Kerns Art Center,
Lane Arts Council,
DIVA (the Downtown Initiative for the Visual Arts) and the Eugene Glass School
Several track and field
movies have used Eugene as a setting and/or a filming location. Personal Best
, starring Mariel Hemingway
, was filmed in Eugene in 1982. The film centered on a group of women who are trying to qualify for the Olympic track and field team. Two track and field movies about the life of Steve Prefontaine
and Without Limits
, were released within a year of each other in 1997–1998. Kenny Moore
, Eugene-trained Olympic runner and co-star in Prefontaine
, co-wrote the screenplay for Without Limits
was filmed in Washington because the Without Limits
production bought out Hayward Field
for the summer to prevent its competition from shooting there.
Kenny Moore also wrote a biography of Bill Bowerman
, played in Without Limits
by Donald Sutherland
back in Eugene 20 years after he had appeared in Animal House
. Moore had also had a role in Personal Best
, a 2003 independent film, was partially filmed in Eugene. When the film premiered in June 2001 at the Seattle International Film Festival
, it was titled Rennie's Landing
after a popular bar near the University of Oregon campus. The title was changed for its DVD release. Zerophilia
was filmed in Eugene in 2006.
There are six Roman Catholic parishes in Eugene as well: St. Mary Catholic Church
St. Jude Catholic Church, St. Mark Catholic Church, St. Peter Catholic Church, St. Paul Catholic Church, and St. Thomas More Catholic Church.
Eugene also has a Ukrainian Catholic Church named Nativity of the Mother of God.
There is a mainline Protestant contingency in the city as well—such as the largest of the Lutheran
Churches, Central Lutheran
near the U of O Campus and the Episcopal
Church of the Resurrection.
The Eugene area has a sizeable LDS Church
presence, with three stakes, consisting of 23 congregations (wards and branches).
The Church of Jesus Christ announced plans in April 2020 to build a temple in Eugene.
The greater Eugene-Springfield area also has a Jehovah's Witnesses
presence with five Kingdom Halls, several having multiple congregations in one Kingdom Hall.
Eugene has a community of some 140 Sikhs
, who have established a Sikh temple.
The 340-member congregation of the Unitarian Universalist
Church in Eugene (UUCE)
purchased the former Eugene Scottish Rite Temple in May 2010, renovated it, and began services there in September 2012.
Saraha Nyingma Buddhist Temple
opened in 2012 in the former site of the Unitarian Universalist Church.
"Welcome to Track Town USA" sign in Eugene
For nearly 40 years, Eugene has been the "Track and Field Capital of the World." Oregon's most famous track icon is the late world-class distance runner Steve Prefontaine
, who was killed in a car crash in 1975.
Eugene's jogging trails include Pre's Trail
in Alton Baker Park, Rexius Trail
, the Adidas Oregon Trail
, and the Ridgeline Trail
. Jogging was introduced to the U.S. through Eugene, brought from New Zealand
by Bill Bowerman, who wrote the best-selling book "Jogging", and coached the champion University of Oregon track and cross country teams. During Bowerman's tenure, his "Men of Oregon" won 24 individual NCAA
titles, including titles in 15 out of the 19 events contested. During Bowerman's 24 years at Oregon, his track teams finished in the top ten at the NCAA championships 16 times, including four team titles (1962, '64, '65, '70), and two second-place trophies. His teams also posted a dual meet record of 114–20.
Bowerman also invented the waffle sole for running shoes in Eugene, and with Oregon alumnus Phil Knight
founded shoe giant Nike. Eugene's miles of running trails, through its unusually large park system, are the most extensive in the U.S. The city has dozens of running clubs. The climate is cool and temperate, good both for jogging and record-setting. Eugene is home to the University of Oregon's Hayward Field track, which hosts numerous collegiate and amateur track and field meets throughout the year, most notably the Prefontaine Classic
. Hayward Field was host to the 2004 AAU Junior Olympic Games
, the 1989 World Masters Athletics Championships
, the track and field events of the 1998 World Masters Games
, the 2006 Pacific-10
track and field championships, the 1971, 1975, 1986, 1993, 1999, 2001, 2009, and 2011 USA Track & Field Outdoor Championships
and the 1972, 1976, 1980, 2008, 2012, and 2016 U.S. Olympic trials
The Nationwide Tour
's golfing event Oregon Classic
takes place at Shadow Hills Country Club, just north of Eugene. The event has been played every year since 1998, except in 2001 when it was slated to begin the day after the 9/11
terrorist attacks. The top 20 players from the Nationwide Tour are promoted to the PGA Tour for the following year.
The Eugene Jr. Generals, a Tier III Junior "A" ice hockey team belonging to the Northern Pacific Hockey League (NPHL) consisting of 8 teams throughout Oregon and Washington, plays at the Lane County Ice Center.
Lane United FC
, a soccer club that participates in the Northwest Division of USL League Two
, was founded in 2013 and plays its home games at Civic Park.
The following table lists some sports clubs in Eugene and their usual home venue:
Parks and recreation
Spencer Butte Park at the southern edge of town provides access to Spencer Butte, a dominant feature of Eugene's skyline. Hendricks Park
, situated on a knoll to the east of downtown, is known for its rhododendron
garden and nearby memorial to Steve Prefontaine, known as Pre's Rock
, where the legendary University of Oregon runner was killed in an auto accident. Alton Baker Park
, next to the Willamette River, contains Pre's Trail. Also next to the Willamette are Skinner Butte Park
and the Owen Memorial Rose Garden, which contains more than 4,500 roses of over 400 varieties,
as well as the 150-year-old Black Tartarian
an Oregon Heritage Tree
The city of Eugene maintains an urban forest
. The University of Oregon campus is an arboretum
, with over 500 species of trees. The city operates and maintains scenic hiking trails that pass through and across the ridges of a cluster of hills in the southern portion of the city, on the fringe of residential neighborhoods. Some trails allow biking, and others are for hikers and runners only.
In 1944, Eugene adopted a council–manager
form of government, replacing the day-to-day management of city affairs by the part-time mayor and volunteer city council
with a full-time professional city manager. The subsequent history of Eugene city government has largely been one of the dynamics—often contentious—between the city manager, the mayor and city council.
According to statute, all Eugene and Lane County elections are officially non-partisan, with a primary containing all candidates in May. If a candidate gets more than 50% of the vote in the primary, they win the election outright, otherwise the top two candidates face off in a November runoff. This allows candidates to win seats during the lower-turnout primary election.
The mayor of Eugene is Lucy Vinis
, who has been in office since winning the popular vote in May 2016, and who was re-elected in May 2020. Recent mayors
include Edwin Cone (1958–69), Les Anderson (1969–77) Gus Keller (1977–84), Brian Obie (1985–88), Jeff Miller (1989–92), Ruth Bascom
(1993–96), Jim Torrey
(1997–2004) and Kitty Piercy
Eugene City Council
Mayor: Lucy Vinis
- Ward 1 – Emily Semple
- Ward 2 – Matt Keating
- Ward 3 – Alan Zelenka
- Ward 4 – Jennifer Yeh
- Ward 5 – Mike Clark
- Ward 6 – Greg Evans
- Ward 7 – Claire Syrett
- Ward 8 – Randy Groves
The University of Oregon is served by the University of Oregon Police Department
and Eugene Police Department also has a police station in the West University District near campus. Lane Community College is served by the Lane Community College Public Safety Department.
The Oregon State Police
have a presence in the rural areas and highways around the Eugene metro area.
downtown station, and the EmX
lines are patrolled by LTDTransit Officers
. Since 1989 the mental health crisis intervention non-governmental agency CAHOOTS
has responded to Eugene's mental health 911 calls.
Eugene-Springfield Fire Department
is the agency responsible for emergency medical services, fire suppression, HAZMAT operations and water/Confined spaces rescues in the combined Eugene-Springfield metropolitan area.
Eugene used to have an ordinance which prohibited car horn usage for non-driving purposes. After several residents were cited for this offense during the anti-Gulf War demonstrations in January 1991, the city was taken to court and in 1992 the Oregon Court of Appeals
overturned the ordinance, finding it unconstitutionally vague. Eugene City Hall
was abandoned in 2012 for reasons of structural integrity, energy efficiency, and obsolete size. Various offices of city government became tenants in eight other buildings.
As the biggest city by far in Lane County, Eugene's voters almost always single-handedly decide the partisan tilt and the margins. While Eugene has always been a counter-culture-heavy and liberal college town, the last two decades have seen that etched into stone as a reliable Democratic voting block due to Oregon's voters polarizing via an urban-Democratic/rural-Republican split.
Lane County voted for Bernie Sanders
over eventual 2016 nominee Hillary Clinton
at an overall 60.6-38.1% margin with an even higher Sanders margin within Eugene city limits.
The Eugene Public Library
The largest library in Oregon is the University of Oregon's Knight Library
, with collections totaling more than 3 million volumes and over 100,000 audio and video items.
The Eugene Public Library
moved into a new, larger building downtown in 2002. The four-story library is an increase from 38,000 to 130,000 square feet (3,500 to 12,100 m2
There are also two branches of the Eugene Public Library, the Sheldon Branch Library
in the neighborhood of Cal Young/Sheldon, and the Bethel Branch Library
, in the neighborhood of Bethel. Eugene also has the Lane County Law Library
The largest newspaper serving the area is The Register-Guard
, a daily newspaper with a circulation of about 70,000, published independently by the Baker family of Eugene until 2018, before being acquired by GateHouse Media
Other newspapers serving the area include the Eugene Weekly
, the Emerald
, the student-run independent newspaper at the University of Oregon, now published on Mondays and Thursdays;The Torch
, the student-run newspaper at Lane Community College, the Ignite
, the newspaper at New Hope Christian College and The Beacon Bolt,
the student-run newspaper at Bushnell University. Eugene Magazine
, Lifestyle Quarterly
, Eugene Living
, and Sustainable Home and Garden
magazines also serve the area. Adelante Latino
is a Spanish language newspaper in Eugene that serves all of Lane County.
- KOAC 550 Corvallis – NPR News/Talk (Oregon Public Broadcasting)
- KUGN 590 Eugene – NEWS/TALK (Cumulus)
- KXOR 660 Junction City – Spanish Religious (Zion Media)
- KKNX 840 Eugene – Classic Hits (Mielke Broadcasting)
- KORE 1050 Springfield – FOX Sports Radio
- KPNW 1120 Eugene – NEWS/TALK (Bicostal Media)
- KRVM 1280 Eugene – NPR News/Talk (Eugene School District) (JPR affiliate)
- KSCR 1320 Eugene – Soft AC (Cumulus)
- KNND 1400 Cottage Grove – Classic Country (Reiten Communications Inc)
- KEED 1450 Eugene – Classic Country (Mielke Broadcasting)
- KOPB 1600 Eugene – NPR News/Talk (Oregon Public Broadcasting)
- KWVA 88.1 Eugene – Freeform (University of Oregon)
- KPIJ 88.5 Junction City – Christian (Calvary Satellite Network) (Calvary Chapel)
- KQFE 88.9 Springfield – Christian (Family Radio)
- KLCC 89.7 Eugene – NPR News/Talk/Jazz (Lane Community College)
- KWAX 91.1 Eugene – Classical (University of Oregon)
- KRVM 91.9 Eugene – Adult Album Alternative (AAA) (Eugene School District)
- KKNU 93.3 Springfield – Country (McKenzie River Broadcasting)
- KMGE 94.5 Eugene – Adult Contemporary (McKenzie River Broadcasting)
- KUJZ 95.3 Creswell – Sports (Cumulus)
- KZEL 96.1 Eugene – Classic Rock (Cumulus)
- KEPW-LP 97.3 Eugene - PeaceWorks Community Radio (Eugene PeaceWorks)
- KEQB 97.7 Coburg - Regional Mexican (McKenzie River Broadcasting)
- KODZ 99.1 Eugene – Classic Hits (Bicoastal Media)
- KRKT 99.9 Albany – Country (Bicoastal Media)
- KMME 100.5 Cottage Grove – Catholic Program (Catholic Radio Northwest)
- KFLY 101.5 Corvallis - Country (Bicoastal Media)
- KEHK 102.3 Brownsville – Hot Adult Contemporary (Cumulus)
- KNRQ 103.7 Harrisburg – Alternative Rock (Cumulus)
- KDUK 104.7 Florence – Top 40 (CHR) (Bicoastal Media)
- KEUG 105.5 Veneta – Adult Hits (McKenzie River Broadcasting)
- KLOO 106.3 Corvallis – Classic Rock (Bicoastal Media)
- KLVU 107.1 Sweet Home – Contemporary Christian Music (K-LOVE) Educational Media Foundation
- KHPE 107.9 Albany – Contemporary Christian Music (Extra Mile Media)
Cycling is popular in Eugene and many people commute via bicycle. Summertime events and festivals frequently have bike parking "corrals" that are often filled to capacity by three hundred or more bikes. Many people commute to work by bicycle every month of the year. Bike trails take commuting and recreational bikers along the Willamette River past a scenic rose garden, along Amazon Creek, through the downtown, and through the University of Oregon campus. Eugene is close to many popular mountain bike trails, and Disciples of Dirt is the local mountain bike club that organizes group rides and promotes trail stewardship.
The North Bank Bike Path is a popular trail for cyclists.
In 2009, the League of American Bicyclists
cited Eugene as 1 of 10 "Gold-level" cities in the U.S. because of its "remarkable commitments to bicycling."
In 2010, Bicycling
magazine named Eugene the 5th most bike-friendly city in America.
The U.S. Census Bureau's annual American Community Survey
reported that Eugene had a bicycle commuting mode share
of 7.3% in 2011, the fifth highest percentage nationwide among U.S. cities with 65,000 people or more, and 13 times higher than the national average of 0.56%.
The 1908 Amtrak depot
downtown was restored in 2004; it is the southern terminus for two daily runs of the Amtrak Cascades
, and a stop along the route in each direction for the daily Coast Starlight
Highways traveling within and through Eugene include:
- Interstate 5: Interstate 5 forms much of the eastern city limit, acting as an effective, though unofficial boundary between Eugene and Springfield. To the north, I-5 leads to the Willamette Valley and Portland. To the south, I-5 leads to Roseburg, Medford, and the southwestern portion of the state. In full, Interstate 5 continues north to the Canada–US border at Blaine, Washington and Vancouver, British Columbia and extends south to the Mexico–US border at Tijuana and San Diego.
- Officer Chris Kilcullen Memorial Highway: Oregon Route 126 is routed along the Eugene-Springfield Highway, a limited-access freeway. The Eugene portion of this highway begins at an interchange with Interstate 5 and ends two miles (3 km) west at a freeway terminus. This portion of Oregon Route 126 is also signed Interstate 105, a spur route of Interstate 5. Oregon Route 126 continues west, a portion shared with Oregon Route 99, and continues west to Florence. Eastward, Oregon Route 126 crosses the Cascades and leads to central and eastern Oregon.
- Randy Papé Beltline: Beltline is a limited-access freeway which runs along the northern and western edges of incorporated Eugene.
- Delta Highway: The Delta Highway forms a connector of less than 2 miles (3.2 km) between Interstate 105 and Beltline Highway.
- Oregon Route 99: Oregon Route 99 forks off Interstate 5 south of Eugene, and forms a major surface artery in Eugene. It continues north into the Willamette valley, parallel to I-5. It is sometimes called the "scenic route" since it has a great view of the Coast Range and also stretches through many scenic farmlands of the Willamette Valley.
Eugene is the home of Oregon's largest publicly owned water and power utility
, the Eugene Water & Electric Board
(EWEB). EWEB got its start in the first decade of the 20th century, after an epidemic of typhoid
found in the groundwater supply.
The City of Eugene condemned Eugene's private water utility and began treating river water (first the Willamette; later the McKenzie) for domestic use. EWEB got into the electric business when power was needed for the water pumps. Excess electricity generated by the EWEB's hydropower
plants was used for street lighting.
Wastewater treatment services are provided by the Metropolitan Wastewater Management Commission, a partnership between the Cities of Eugene and Springfield and Lane County.
Eugene is one of the few municipalities in the US that does not fluoridate
its water supply.
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