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Washington Park (Portland, Oregon)

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Title: Washington Park (Portland, Oregon)  
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Subject: Hoyt Arboretum, Roses in Portland, Oregon, Portland, Oregon, U.S. Bancorp Tower, Timeline of Portland, Oregon
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Washington Park (Portland, Oregon)

Washington Park
Garden near north entrance
Washington Park (Portland, Oregon) is located in Portland, Oregon
Washington Park (Portland, Oregon)
Nearest city Portland, Oregon
Area 410 acres (170 ha)
Created 1909
Operated by Portland Parks & Recreation

Washington Park is a public urban park in Portland in the U.S. state of Oregon. It includes a zoo, forestry museum, arboretum, children's museum, rose garden, Japanese garden, amphitheatre, memorials, archery range, tennis courts, soccer field, picnic areas, playgrounds, public art and many acres of wild forest with miles of trails. Washington Park covers more than 410 acres (166 hectares) on mostly steep, wooded hillsides which range in elevation from 200 feet (61 m) at 24th & W Burnside to 870 feet (265 m) at SW Fairview Blvd. It comprises 159.7 acres (64.63 hectares) of city park land that has been officially designated as "Washington Park" by the City of Portland,[1] as well as the adjacent 64-acre (26 ha) Oregon Zoo and the 187-acre (76 ha) Hoyt Arboretum, which together make up the area described as "Washington Park" on signs and maps.[2]


The City of Portland purchased the original 40.78 acres (16.5 hectares) in 1871 from Amos King for $32,624, a controversially high price for the time.[3][4] The area, designated "City Park", was wilderness with few roads. Thick brush, trees and roaming cougar discouraged access. In the mid-1880s, Charles M. Meyers was hired as park keeper. A former seaman without landscape training, he transformed the park by drawing on memories of his native Germany and European parks. By 1900, there were roads, trails, landscaped areas with lawns, manicured hedges, flower gardens, and a zoo. Cable cars were added in 1890 and operated until the 1930s.

In 1903, John Charles Olmsted of Olmsted Brothers, a nationally known landscape architecture firm, recommended several changes to the park including the present name, location of the entrance, separate roads and pedestrian paths, and replacement of formal gardens with native species. The name was officially changed from City Park to Washington Park in 1909.[5]

When the county poor farm closed in 1922, the 160 acres (64.75 hectares) were added to Washington Park.

Portland's zoo was founded in Washington Park in 1887 near where the reservoirs are presently located. It moved in 1925 to what is now the Japanese Garden, and moved again in 1959 to its present location at the park's southern edge. The only surviving structure from the old zoo is the elephant barn, now converted into a picnic shelter and decorated with tile mosaic of various animals and a life-size brick relief sculpture of an elephant and calf.

The City of Portland plans to demolish the existing number 3 and 4 outdoor reservoirs, then replace them with underground reservoirs covered by reflecting pools, due to their age and a federal mandate to cover all reservoirs.[6] The $67 million project has attracted opposition from historical preservationists and residents concerned about construction impacts.[7]

Notable features

  • Washington Park has over 15 miles (24 km) of trails, some of which are part of the 40-Mile Loop connecting Washington Park with Pittock Mansion and Forest Park to the north and Council Crest to the south.
  • The Oregon Zoo contains more than 2,000 animals of more than 250 species (including 21 endangered species) in natural or semi-natural habitats.[8] The zoo has a notable Asian elephant breeding program and is home to Packy, the largest example of the species in the USA.
  • The Washington Park Amphitheater hosts many public concerts, including the Washington Park Summer Festival, an annual free concert series normally presented in the first two weeks of August.[9]
  • The International Rose Test Garden is the oldest official, continuously-operated, public rose test garden in the United States. It displays more than 7,000 rose plants of more than 500 varieties. It includes a Shakespeare garden within its boundaries, as well as an alpine garden at its southern end.
  • The Rose Garden Children's Park is a playground that was completed in 1995 with $2 million in donations. It includes a large, colorful play structure designed to accommodate all children, including those with disabilities. Adjacent to the Children's Park is the Elephant House picnic shelter, converted from the old zoo's elephant barn.
  • The Portland Japanese Garden is a 5.5-acre (2.2 ha) private traditional Japanese garden. It is the most highly ranked Japanese garden in North America of more than 300 such gardens rated by experts from The Journal of Japanese Gardening in 2013.[10]
  • The Oregon Holocaust Memorial was dedicated on August 29, 2004, to the victims of the Holocaust.[11]
  • The World Forestry Center Discovery Museum offers educational exhibits on forests and forest-related subjects. It was founded in 1906 in the Forestry Building of the Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition in Northwest Portland, and later established in Washington Park in 1971. Permanent exhibits explore the traits of forests around the world. Temporary exhibits have featured art (usually related to nature), ecology, wildlife and woodcrafts.
  • The Washington Park station is located beneath Les AuCoin Plaza, a scenic xeriscaped brick and stone terraced plaza located between the zoo and the World Forestry Center. The Washington Park Station is the only underground stop on the MAX Light Rail system and at 260 feet (79 m) below ground is the deepest transit station in North America.[12] The station is accessed by four high-speed elevators.
  • Hoyt Arboretum contains nearly 10,000 individual trees and shrubs of 1,100 species on 187 acres (75.68 hectares) and was founded in 1928.

The veterans memorial, zoo, children's museum, forestry center and the MAX station surround a large parking lot in the southwestern portion of the park. The arboretum is located just to the north of these. The gardens, amphitheater, playgrounds and the Holocaust Memorial are in the northeast section of the park.

Image gallery

Statues and fountains

In 2001, a memorial bench and plaque north of the Lewis and Clark Memorial were created to honor the Portland born journalist John Reed. The plaque has a quotation by Reed on his native city:

Public access

TriMet's Washington Park Shuttle

The Washington Park light rail station provides regional public transit access to the park's west end, including the Oregon Zoo. Seasonal public transit service within the park is provided by TriMet's line 83-Washington Park Loop (service launched in 1999[17] and was formerly called the Washington Park Shuttle), which operates from May through October, running seven days a week from June through Labor Day (early September) and otherwise on weekends.[18] Line 83 connects with MAX light rail at the Washington Park station and with MAX and other bus routes in the area of Providence Park.[19] Additionally, bus route 63-Washington Park, which runs on weekdays only but year-round, serves stops at the west and east ends of the park (including at the Rose Gardens and Japanese Garden), but does not pass through most of the park.[20] The northeastern corner of the park, at NW 23rd Place and W. Burnside, is served by bus route 20-Burnside/Stark, which runs seven days a week.[21]

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ a b c d e
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^ FIRST MEMORIAL TO JOHN REED TO BE DEDICATED MAY 6 by Michael Munk, The Portland Alliance, May 2001
  17. ^ Anthony, Roger (May 25, 1999). "Buses will make zoo, park loop". The Oregonian, p. E3.
  18. ^
  19. ^ 83-Washington Park Loop (formerly Washington Park Shuttle) TriMet. Retrieved April 11, 2012.
  20. ^ Bus Line 63-Washington Park TriMet. Retrieved August 14, 2010.
  21. ^ Bus Line 20-Burnside/Stark TriMet. Retrieved January 23, 2011.

External links

  • Map of Washington Park
  • City of Portland Parks information

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