Before there was a Voodoo Doughnuts and internationally acclaimed food scene, Portland tourist attractions were a little less easy to know about. And with the city's attention turned toward the Pearl District in light of R2D2 negotiations—it seems like an appropriate time to turn one's attention to once such attraction of yore, the Lovejoy Columns. Once part of the Lovejoy ramp, which was demolished in 1998 to make room for the new edition of the Broadway Bridge, the supporting columns were painted (graffitied, really) by a watchman for the SP&S Railroad, who started on them using chalk when work got slow (passersby encouraged him to make them permanent with paint). Tom Stefopoulos was a Greek immigrant, and while his columns were well known enough that two of them are currently displayed in the courtyard of a fancy Pearl District apartment building (the rest of them are moldering in storage, and pretty much ruined), Stefopoulos currently resides in an unmarked grave at the Rose City cemetery.


Know Your City is leading a bike tour this Sunday with James Harrison from Friends of the Columns and Carye Bye, "Portland’s Museum Lady." In addition to learning about the columns themselves, they plan to delve into the gritty neighborhood that the Pearl District was not so very long ago, what Stefopoulos' life was like there, as well as how the neighborhood has and is continuing to evolve.

Described as "easy paced," the tour is 2.5 hours, and will "explore Old Town’s Greek roots in the Pearl District, before ending at the Hellenic-American Cultural Center & Museum (HACCM) for Greek refreshments and a guided tour of an incredible collection of Tom’s previously unseen, original pen and ink art. The tour will include a viewing of Vanessa Renwick’s work-in-progress film, Lovejoy. A post-tour option includes a visit to Tom’s unmarked grave at Rose City cemetery at NE 57th and Fremont." (I have it on good authority that the refreshments mentioned include free baklava, just sayin'.)

Tickets are $18 and go to the highly appropriate cause of raising money for a gravestone, but... you can also email me by midnight tonight with "Lovejoy columns" in the subject line for a chance to win a free pair of tickets. As usual I'll be picking a winner at random, but interesting/relevant anecdotes never hurt anything.