The first thing I noticed when I arrived at the cross streets of 18th Av. and City View St. – marking the beginning of the Churchill neighborhood of Eugene – was the immediate sense of disrepair. On the south side of 18th Av. was an abandoned home, the windows boarded up and the paint peeling off in fluttering ribbons.
Across the street a woman, maybe in her mid forties sat on her front porch taking a smoking break with her dog Max.
When I asked her if she knew that she was living right on the border of the Churchill neighborhood, she said she didn’t even know there was a Churchill neighborhood, just the Churchill High School. We decided to go there next.
Churchill High is long and flat; a one story, quarter mile long rectangle. Not much to look at during the day – stadium lights over the football field hint at the potential of dramatics at night. However, hidden from the road behind the school we found a skatepark with about 6 boys between about 12 and 18 practicing their grinds, kickflips and ollies. They were happy to have their picture taken and showed off a bit for us.
> As we worked our way west to the outreaches of the churchill neighborhood, we passed one abandoned lot or deserted strip mall after another.
The only landmark that kept pace with the signs of economic struggle were the number of churches. We must have passed a half dozen churches in less than a mile stretch along 18th Av.
> After surveying the rest of the neighborhood, it seems that Churchill can be divided into three distinct sections. The areas closest to city View and West 11th are the most run down and impoverished. The neighborhoods surrounding Churchill High are suburban and quiet. Once you pass Bailey Hill Road, most traces of development disappear giving way to the Willow Creek Natural Area and beyond that, farmland.