Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Griffith Park, Beaverton

Griffith Park
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Today's adventure takes us out to the 'burbs, to Beaverton's Griffith Park. You're probably wondering why we're leaving the city and venturing out to the 'burbs, and wondering whether it's the start of an alarming trend. So no, I haven't sold out to the man or anything, or at least not any further; I was merely shopping in the area and happened to stop at a thrift shop across the street from the park just in case they had any vintage camera stuff or old computers or anything (they didn't). The park was across the street, so I figured I'd take a minute and snap couple of photos and then see if I could throw a post together and try to make this part of Beaverton seem halfway interesting. Which remains to be seen.

Griffith Park

The park is a sort of irregular oval shape in the center of a suburban office park that includes Beaverton's city hall, across Beaverton-HIllsdale from Fred Meyer. One weekend in late June it hosts the annual Taste of Beaverton festival (which I've been to at least once), and there are concerts every so often, and it seems to be an outdoor lunch spot for office workers when the weather cooperates. I haven't seen it in midwinter, but given the bowl shape of the place it's bound to be a mud pit. It was probably a lake or a marsh at one point, back before anyone -- or at least anyone with power -- cared about wetland protection. The bowl shape also makes the park "problematic" as a possible site for public art, according to the city's Public Art Master Plan, which may explain why there apparently isn't any art there.

Griffith Park

I can't find much in the way of contemporary or historical info about the park, unfortunately, not even any hints about who it's named after. This is probably because it's way out in suburbia and therefore mostly off the Oregonian's radar, and so far I haven't come across an online archive of Beaverton's Valley Times newspaper anywhere. So the first mention of the park in the Oregonian is from July 1979. The Tualatin Hills parks district had just purchased the historic Jenkins Estate on Cooper Mountain, and it turns out that the purchase was enabled by redirecting some cash that was originally slated for a fountain in Griffith Park. Which is funny because I was just thinking that the park needed a fountain. Now we know why it didn't get one. So yeah, that's pretty much the only semi-interesting historical anecdote I've discovered so far.

Griffith Park

The results of a Google image search are basically unrewarding too; despite specifying "Beaverton" in the search, most of the photos you get back are of the vastly larger and more famous Griffith Park in Los Angeles. Which I guess makes sense. Beaverton's one does make an appearance in an interesting blog post of dusk and nighttime photos from around Washington County. Not sure I'd go so far as to call the photos "esoteric", but someone's making an effort, at least.

Griffith Park

Another blog post I ran across mentions that some online maps insist the middle of Griffith Park is a mysterious place called "Beburg". I can actually field that one; "Beburg" is a railroad designation for the tracks around central Beaverton. As far as I know, the name has never been used outside of the railroad industry and the railfan community. If you're into that sort of thing, there are lots of photos around the net, both current and historical. A few examples here, here, here, here, here, and here. The USGS seems to have picked up on the name and decided it's an official 'locale', namely the triangle of land bordered by the rail lines, highway 217, and Beaverton-Hillsdale, of which Griffith Park is roughly the center. I agree this isn't a very colorful origin story. I absolutely agree it'd be a much better story if Griffith Park was the site of an ancient lost city, or maybe a lawless town of the old west, and the very name "Beburg" struck terror in the hearts of the region's citizens. It'd be great if Griffith was a noble sheriff, or knight, or something, and he brought Beburg's infernal tyranny to an end once and for all, and the smoking crater where Beburg once stood is now an idyllic park named in his honor. It would be a great legend, and Washington County's really short on great legends, so feel free to use it if you think your audience will buy it.

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