Tuesday, October 28, 2008

East Park Blocks: Stanley Park

Stanley Park


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The next stop on our tour of Portland's East Park Blocks takes us to Stanley Park (or "Ralph Stanley Park Blocks"), running the length of NE Cascades Parkway, due east of the airport. The east end is the little traffic circle right next to IKEA, you can't miss it. These are really the odd blocks out, as far as East Park Blocks go. I almost didn't include them at all, but I figured, what the heck. The main thing is that they're quite new, only created in 2001, which could make them nearly a century younger than some of the others. They're also the only ones in a commercial area, all the others being in residential areas. It's not a remnant of an incomplete early 20th century urban plan, like at least some of the others seem to be. Instead, it's part of an early 21st century urban plan ("CascadeStation"), one that's only recently started to bear fruit.

As a recently escaped longtime suburbanite, I have to say there's nothing about Stanley Park that really grabs one's attention. The area looks like any other chunk of modern big-box suburbia, and the park itself looks like standard-issue strip mall landscaping, not much different than what you'd encounter outside a Barnes & Noble in Tualatin, say. If I didn't know already, I wouldn't have guessed it even had a name, much less that it's considered a "park".

I first heard about the place in an was Urban Adventure League post from 2007. Those guys always seem to be a step or two ahead of me, and it beats me how that keeps happening.

But at least I can tell you a bit more about the place, in case you're interested. The Port of Portland owns Stanley Park, since the whole area started out as sorta-surplus airport land. You wouldn't expect the port district to have a "park system", and I doubt it's their intent to have one, but they have at least two parks anyway: Here, and McCarthy Park out on Swan Island. I suppose if you own and develop enough land, as they do, you're inevitably going to end up landscaping bits of it here and there.

CascadeStation was created to cash in on the new MAX Red Line, so far with mixed results. Here are two stories about the park from around the time the Red Line opened, in which we learn the park's named in honor of the project's lead developer, who died shortly before the Red Line opened.

And then the new MAX Red Line to the airport opened on, umm, September 10th, 2001. If I was superstitious, which I'm not, I'd almost wonder if there was a curse or something.

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