Saturday, November 08, 2014

Portland Heights Park

Here's a set of photos from Portland Heights Park, up in the West Hills, on Patton Rd. next to the swanky Strohecker's grocery store. (Yes, I know it's technically called "Lamb's at Strohecker's" now. That name's just way too clunky.) The city parks page for the park has a brief history section:

In the 1920s, this property was owned by Mayannah and Boudinot Seeley who allowed neighbors in the area to use it for games and recreation. In 1924, the Portland Heights Club presented a preliminary plan to the City for the development of the site, including a ball field, tennis courts, and restrooms. The City built a playground between 1925-27; it was operated by the Portland Heights Playground Association (PHPA). In 1929, the Seeleys sold the property to the PHPA who raised funds for the purchase by subscription. In 1943, the site was deeded to the City.

An Oregonian article from December 1923 explains that the Portland Heights Club was in the middle of raising $40,000 to buy the land and put in a playground, the idea being that they city would lease it for $1 per year for a while, and then buy it outright at some unspecified future date. This future date ended up being 20 years in the future; I imagine the Great Depression probably delayed the handover for quite a few years.

That's about all I know about the place. The library's Oregonian newspaper database has references to a "Portland Heights Park" as far back as 1891. Apparently it was some sort of outdoor music venue, site of concerts of annoying Victorian-era music, heavy on the Sousa marches. The arrival of jazz a few years later must have been quite a relief for everyone. I don't know whether that original Portland Heights Park was at the same location or not; all of the news items about it that I've seen assumed that contemporary readers already knew where it was, and they don't give an address. A few state it was reachable by streetcar, but don't specify which streetcar line to take, much less which stop to get off at.

A subdivision by the same name was announced in October 1945, as what must have been one of the city's first postwar subdivisions. The entire rest of the page concerns the doings of individual local soldiers and sailors, with hopes expressed that they'd be coming home soon. The subdivision was somewhere around SW Sherwood Drive & Broadway, a bit east and downhill from the city park.

So I have to admit that I took these photos while shopping at the swanky grocery store next door. In my defense, it's not my usual grocery store, and I went there in part because I needed better photos of the park, and I figured I might as well get some grocery shopping done while I was at it. If you page through the whole slide show -- and why wouldn't you? -- you'll see it includes a bunch of generic forest photos. Those were my original photos of the park from several years ago, or at least I'd concluded they were of the park, based on when they were taken and when I knew I'd walked past the place. In the last couple of years I've kind of lowered my standards a little regarding photos, such that pseudo-artsy DSLR photos are currently the rare exception to the rule. But the photos I had really gave no sense of the place at all, and I couldn't see building a whole post around a few generic low-quality forest photos. I figured I ought to take at least one photo that's absolutely, positively from Portland Heights Park before I could move forward with a post. I dunno, otherwise it just didn't feel right somehow.

No comments :