Preserving the Past in Progressive Portland, Oregon

The beautiful City of Portland is a delight best discovered on foot. The growing city is blooming with new parks, high-rise condos and transportation system interwoven with wonderfully preserved historical elements of her past.

The “Portland” sign pictured above is a copy because when they were moving the original from the elegant Portland Publix Theatre (and later named the Paramount Theatre) it fell and broke! Presently it is named the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall and is one of the 5 venues that makes up the Portland’5 Center for the Performing Arts. (PCPA is the fifth largest center for performing arts in the United States with more than 1,000 performances and one million patrons annually.)

Names and Faces of Portland:  The City of Roses, PDX, Stumptown, and Bridgetown

Purchasing an all-day pass to use on the Portland Streetcar, MAX (Tri-Met’s light rail train) and buses can be a great help covering the distances and saving the cost and dilemma of parking.

Pioneer Courthouse Square

Historic Pioneer Courthouse and Post Office – the oldest federal building on the West Coast overlooks Pioneer Square, affectionately called Portland’s Living Room. In the md-1980s, a $15 donaton could buy an engraved brick. It’s hard to find anyone who doesn’t love Pioneer Courthouse Square.


Iconic Benson Bubblers

In 1912, Simon Benson, a local businessman and philanthropist, donated $10,000 to the City of Portland to purchase and install 20 bronze drinking fountains, now known as Benson Bubblers. The freely flowing fountains serve up fresh – never recycled – Bull Run water.

A.E. Doyle, a prolific architect of the day, designed the four-bowl Benson Bubbler. His works include the Central branch of the Multnomah County Library, Multnomah Falls Lodge and Multnomah Stadium (now known as Providence Park) as well as a multitude of commercial buildings and private residences still in use today.


Pittock Mansion 

Henry Pittock and his wife Georgiana, built Pittock Mansion in 1914 on a hill overlooking Portland and the Willamette River. Pittock Mansion is enjoyed by the public as a historic house museum today, over 100 years after its construction.

When Henry Pittock and his future wife Georgiana Burton arrived, separately, by wagon trains in the 1850s, Portland was a muddy village, isolated from the rest of the United States and the world.Henry found work as a typesetter at The Weekly Oregonian newspaper, and became the paper’s owner and publisher. Georgiana Pittockwas a founder and fundraiser for many charities and organizations including the Rose Festival and International Test Garden.

Portlandia and The Portland Building 

Designed by Michael Graves in 1982, the Portland Building won innovative design awards, but it’s hard to find anyone who likes the Portland Building. The beautiful Portlandia statue, the US’s 2nd largest hammered metal statue (after the Statue of Liberty) was placed on this building high above the sdewalk where she doesn’t get the recognition she deserves.

The Federal Building recently underwent a $139M facelift making it more environmentally friendly.


City of Parks and Fountains:  Portland has over 8100 acres of parkland.

Two of the 3 fountains (above) are in parks named for Pettygrove and Lovejoy, Portland’s founders after Mr. Overton sold out his half claim to Mr. Pettygrove for $50 in merchandise. The Dreamer (lower right) is a 1981 sculpture by Manuel Izquierdo.

A close up view of the large gushing Lovejoy Fountain reminds me of the Columbia River Gorge’s many waterfalls.

The 3-sided Portland Tower condominium stands guard over my favorite Portland fountain wildly pumping 13,000 gallons of water per minute. It was orignally called Forecourt Fountain in front of Civic Auditorium but is currently named Keller Fountain and Auditorium.

Details of this amazing fountain. I remember a time my sister and I were playing in the water when we discovered coins that had been tossed into the fountain depths and how we had a grand ole time bringing up fistfuls of coins! I seem to remember that dad didn’t allow us to keep our found fortune.

I’m so glad that children are not prohibited from playing in the city’s fountains.

The “urban beach” and fountain at Jamison Square in The Pearl District is a favorite with families.

Originally, not a feature of this park, the water was added to deter skateborders.

Children exploring a country wetland?

No! Just 2 blocks from Jamison Square is the recreated Tanner Springs which originally flowed here. This serene pocket park connects urban high density living with nature.


South Waterfront

Portland Aerial Tram, the nation’s only commuter tram, carries 15,000 -20,000 riders a day between South Waterfront District and Marquam Hill. “Pill Hill” is home to the Veteran’s Hospital, Shriner’s Hospital and OHSU medical school and teaching hospital.

Mt. St. Helens is barely visible on the left side of the horizon (upper photo.) Marquam Bridge, the I-5 bridge, is on the left and Tilikum Bridge, Portland’s newest bridge and the nation’s largest “car-free” bridge, is on the right (lower photo.)

Looking down from OHSU, one of the $1M tram cars rises like a bubble from South Waterfront. Mt Hood peeks above the clouds on the horizon.

Thanks for joining me on a tour to my favorite spots in The City of Roses.


Want to see more?  I’d love to Meet You in the Morning and we can do just that.

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