This tram was built because OHSU medical facilities were expanding on the riverfront. The medical personnel didn't have a great way to travel between the main hospital and the riverfront buildings due to lack of parking, travel time, etc. So the tram was constructed for the hospital. Fortuitously, it also affords tourists fabulous views of the Cascade Mountains and Portland.
Some people have a need to be at the main hospital as well as the south waterfront medical building. This tram is useful for medical personnel and some patients since parking at the top of the hill can be full. The road up can seem winding and steep to some people. The tram goes right from inside the waterfront building to the hospital and back.
It costs $4 per person for a ride. This is a very cheap price for a spectacular view on a clear day. If there is low cloud cover, it may be possible to pop out above the clouds as you rise. I didn't have that experience but it could happen on the right day. There are spectacular mountain views as you look across the Willamette River (don't pronounce it like you're in Chicago, it's "will lamb it" when you're in Oregon). At the top, the view of Mt. St. Helens with a flat top contrasts beautifully with the sharper peaked Mt. Hood.
The ride is short but you can stay at the top and soak in the atmosphere if you are there just for the view. If you're not a foodie, you can go inside and sample the hospital cafeteria food. I personally never ate at the main hospital. The waterfront center has very good baked goods and mexican wraps in their cafe.
Technical details about this trip include the fact that the rise in altitude is 500 feet, the length of the ride is 3300 feet and it only takes about 3 minutes. Riding vs driving up only saves you a few minutes. After waiting for the tram, it could be a wash so don't ride just to save time.
Enough of he boring stuff. The little known secret about this attraction is that you can book it for a special event such as a date night, wedding or other private event. If I was helping someone plan a proposal, this site would be near the top of my list!
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