Sunday, August 11, 2013

Westmoreland Park

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Here's a photoset from Westmoreland Park in SE Portland. The usual formula for a blog post here states that I should also do some semi-extensive research and write something interesting about the place, to go along with the photos. I'm not sure I need to do that this time around, though. Westmoreland Park is one of the highlights of Portland's city park system, so it's not exactly obscure. The city's page about the park (see previous link) includes a few paragraphs about the history of the place, which is unusual. I did a cursory search of the library's Oregonian database to see if I could find anything else of interest; nearly all of the search results are about baseball and softball at the park's Sckavone Stadium. There's probably a book to be written about the long history of baseball in Portland. It would have to be written by someone who knows and cares more about baseball than I do, though. It's possible this book or article already exists; I haven't really checked extensively.

I did run across a fun 1909 real estate ad for land in Westmoreland, promising 10% off any lot in the neighborhood, first 50 customers, limited time only. That's over at pdx tales, this humble blog's local history Tumblr sibling, if you're interested. Every time I see early 20th Century real estate ads, I'm reminded of early 21st Century (pre-2008) real estate ads, exhorting people to get in now while the bubble's still inflating, and property can be flipped for an easy quick buck. There's just nothing like a land rush to bring out the baser aspects of human nature.

These photos were taken on a cold November day several years ago, a time of year when the park's Crystal Springs Creek tends to flood. Much of Westmoreland was a wetland area before developers and park planners laid their hands on it, so the area's natural inclination is still to fill up with water in the winter. Depression-era flood control efforts in the Johnson Creek watershed not only didn't prevent flooding, but also made the "improved" creeks very bad places to be a fish. I wrote about this a while back in a post about nearby Tideman Johnson Park, so I'm not going to rehash the whole situation here. The short version is that people screwed the area up, the city's on the hook to unscrew it somehow, and it'll probably be expensive. The city's 2004 Master Plan for the park talks about addressing the park's water problems, and a current project aims to restore Crystal Springs Creek to something resembling a natural state, to be completed some time in 2014. So we'll see in a few years whether the current plan works any better than the previous ones did. The surprising thing in all this is that, back in 1909, someone had the foresight or good fortune to leave the area as open space, and not build houses here. Now that would be an expensive mitigation project.

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