Saturday, October 10, 2009

From the archives: Peninsula Park

Fountain, Peninsula Park


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A few oldish photos of NE Portland's Peninsula Park. They're old photos (July '07) and not really that fabulous either; in my post on "Disk #4" (a small modern sculpture in the park), I griped that all the other photos I'd taken of the park totally sucked. Since then I've learned enough about tinkering with photos to bring them up from "Teh Sux0r" all the way to "Meh". Or possibly I'm just fooling myself. Either way, here they are. I took the photos for the "River Spirits" post the same day, and if I didn't gripe about the light in that post, I really ought to have done so.

The main reason I'm posting these now is the fountain, actually. And now I can cross it off my todo list. It's pleasant but not really that fascinating as far as fountains go, and I figured I wouldn't end up with substantially different images if I went back, so I went ahead and used the old photos.

Don't let my lack of enthusiasm give you the wrong idea, though. I thought the fountain and rose gardens and the park as a whole were quite nice, and reviewers on Yelp seem to adore the place, for whatever that's worth.


Roses, Peninsula Park

One historical tidbit: The parks bureau website refers to the park's previous owner, one "Liverpool Liz", as a prominent local businesswoman, while failing to note exactly what business she was in. Others, less coy, have taken up running historical tours based on the life and business pursuits of a certain lusty Liverpudlian. It's one of those things everyone can have a nice chuckle about so long as it happened in the distant past and involved people with colorful nicknames. The same people would probably not be thrilled if someone tried to open a new horse racetrack + bordello megaplex in their neighborhood. It's weird how the passage of time takes the gritty edge off just about anything. Like the whole business with Shanghaiing sailors in Old Town. That's the one I really don't get. I take a fairly libertarian view of the other stuff, but romanticizing kidnapping is kind of a stretch.


Roses, Peninsula Park

Back during the 80's, the surrounding neighborhood was extremely sketchy. Or at least the local media presented it that way, with constant Blood vs. Crip gang warfare, and crack dens on every street corner. I assume it wasn't quite so lurid in reality, although it sounded scary enough that we never ventured in from suburbia to come see for ourselves and look at the roses and so forth. Which we probably would've done otherwise, as we were always being dragged to the more famous rose garden up in Washington Park. I seem to recall reading (but can't currently find) a contemporary description of the place that gave it the full Mad Max treatment, saying something to the effect that this was a historic but run-down rose garden, sadly located in the heart of a Beirut-like 24/7 no-go zone. If you really must go, only go during the day, and in a large group, preferably with an armed escort, and definitely update your will first. I may be exaggerating slightly, but only slightly.


Peninsula Park

So I have to wonder how society, a century from now, will look back at those days. I wonder if the 1980s will someday get the same treatment we now give to the rough-and-tumble bits of the 19th century. Maybe there will be a museum, meticulously restored to look like an authentic crack house circa 1988, with period music and decor. Possibly there will be historic reenactors, sort of like those guys who get a thrill out of putting on Civil War costumes and pretending to shoot each other. I mean, say what you will about the 80's, but the Civil War was wayyyy more nasty and bloody. It would be ridiculous to argue otherwise, no matter how fancy the clothes were back then. So if we can gloss over that, we can gloss over anything. Giving the 80's this treatment sounds ridiculous now, but someday when nobody's left who remembers the era, and people's imaginations are free to roam and focus on the colorful parts and just make stuff up out of thin air, it's anyone's guess how things will turn out.

Peninsula Park

Roses, Peninsula Park

Fountain, Peninsula Park

Roses, Peninsula Park

Peninsula Park

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