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Attractions Featured

Washington Park Enjoys Deep Roots in History

Wash Park, PortlWashington Park in Portland is huge and historical. If you haven’t visited lately, this is a great time of year to take the family out to the park for a day of play and outdoor fun.
You may be interested to know that the park was first started in 1871. President Theodore Roosevelt laid the foundation stone for the Lewis and Clark Memorial on May 21, 1903. He was assisted by the monument’s designer, Portland stonecutter Otto Schumann. The memorial was completed in 1908.
Washington Park is one of the oldest parks in Portland. The city purchased the original 40.78 acres in 1871 for the then high price of $32,624. Many people questioned the purchase given that the site was thick with brush and timber, and cougar roamed the hills. wash pk 2
City Park, as Washington Park was originally known until 1909, was developed slowly. By 1900, the park had developed from a wilderness to a place of drives, walkways, formal plantings, lawns, clipped hedges, and ornamental flower displays. In 1903, John C. Olmsted toured Portland and recommended changes of lasting usefulness to the park: he advised changing the name from City Park to one of more distinction, moving the main entrance to Park Place, separating vehicular traffic from foot traffic, and restoring some of the formally planted areas to their natural beauty with native shrubs and ground cover.
Washington Park was also the site of Portland’s first zoo in the mid-1880s. It featured two bears (a grizzly named Grace and a brown bear named Brownie) along with other animals. In 1925, the zoo moved to a higher location, the present site of the Japanese Garden. The zoo opened at its present location in 1959 and in the 1960s its management was transferred to Metro.
The Rotary Club of Portland spearheaded a $2 million fund-raising effort that culminated in the 1995 construction of the Rose Garden Children’s Park, a popular, accessible play area for children of all ages.
Whatcha waiting for? Head out to the park!