Thursday, July 16, 2009

Johnson Creek Park expedition

Johnson Creek Park


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A few photos of SE Portland's tiny little Johnson Creek Park, out on the far edge of Sellwood, where it bumps up against Milwaukie.

Johnson Creek Park

Johnson Creek Park

The somewhat glib, pop-sociological notion at the heart of this post is that this is a spot where the upscale and working class sides of Portland collide. Or at least abut each other. Sellwood is your prototypical gentrified inner SE neighborhood, with twee little boutiques and a Starbucks on every corner. Milwaukie has auto body shops, car dealerships, and the state's vast OLCC distribution warehouse, among other things. That's the usual public perception, anyway. The reality's more complex than that, of course, which is why I said this is a somewhat glib, pop-sociological notion.

Johnson Creek Park

Continuing with the notion, this is the spot where Crystal Springs Creek flows into Johnson Creek (see top photo). Just upstream of here on Crystal Springs Creek (i.e. the Sellwood side) are the Rhododendron Garden, Westmoreland Park, and the Eastmoreland golf course. Just upstream on Johnson Creek, meanwhile, is the Acropolis, uh, gentlemen's club.

Johnson Creek Park

Johnson Creek Park

Furthermore, Johnson Creek bisects the park. The western half is reachable from Sellwood neighborhood streets. It features playground equipment, picnic tables, and guardrails to keep people from messing up the creeks' delicate riparian ecosystem. There's a cute little bridge over Crystal Springs Creek. I think I saw a few interpretive signs, which is always a sure sign you're in a gentrified area.

Johnson Creek Park

Johnson Creek Park

To get to the eastern side of the park, on the other side of Johnson Creek, you actually have to leave the park, go get on McLoughlin and turn off on SE Clatsop street, a short semi-paved street between two industrial shops. At the end of the street there's a gravel parking area, and no signs indicating this is a park. The park boundary is also Portland city limit, I think, so you actually have to detour through Milwaukie to get there. No playground equipment, no picnic tables or other services, and no guardrails.

Johnson Creek Park

The obvious question here is "why isn't there a bridge over the creek?". There's one over Crystal Springs Creek, after all, why not Johnson Creek? Well, it seems there used to be just such a bridge, many moons ago (and I haven't been able to determine exactly how many moons that was). You can still see the foundations of the old bridge, but it seems there hasn't been a functioning bridge here for quite some time, and I haven't come across any indication that there's a new one in the works anytime soon.

Johnson Creek Park

Johnson Creek Park

This is probably a metaphor for the larger class-divide thing, and it probably says something deep about how the two sides of Portland relate, or fail to relate, to each other. I'm not entirely sure what the message is, but it's bound to mean something...

Johnson Creek Park

Even if you don't buy my thesis, and you don't think the park really illustrates much of anything, it's still a pleasant little spot. It's got trees, flowers, burbling creeks, etc., the usual.

Johnson Creek Park

A quick few links about the place:

1 comment :

Anonymous said...

I live a block from Westmoreland park in the apt complex that Crystal springs runs through and under Nehalem St. I hear kingfishers and red winged blackbirds here..sounds I never knew til I moved in here. Well, some of the older tenants of this place say there are beavers, so I am wondering if this odd sound I have heard only a few times is a beaver. It is after dark or at dusk, and it is a sort of trilling sound. Something tells me it is not a bird, but it is closer to bird than other animal sounds I know. One time some people across the way were taking pictures of whatever it was but I could not see from my angle. I tried to find otter and beaver sounds but nothing sounded like this. I am an Oregon native so I am curious about this. Oh btw, I totally agree with the sentiment in this blog. the host of Locus Focus heard someone say that this part of town has the most affordable water front places and that is so true. Adversity thankfully forced me onto my bike last Summer and one time a few blocks S of Tacoma I found that little park on Tenino. Ive always noticed that Sellwood is gentrified safe zone form the dreaded working class that is cut off from the other classes by 39th, the train track no mans land, and all the golf courses and Rhodedendron gardens, and Reed College or course. I work across from the OLCC, with a bunch of desperate working class types and we take breaks on a lawn that surely had a buried stream as there are mushy areas around tall aspen trees.