Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Lownsdale Square

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Our next exciting sideshow is from Lownsdale Square, one of the two Plaza Blocks in downtown Portland along with Chapman Square. From the city's description:

The Plaza Blocks were lively places where orators held forth and citizens assembled. They are characterized in part by several large old elms and gingko trees. Chapman Square, originally designed for the exclusive use of women and children, features all female gingko trees. Lownsdale Square was to be the "gentlemen's gathering place." Today the Plaza Blocks are still a busy gathering place, although men and women can now safely coexist in either of them.

As befits a Victorian-era manly-man city park, Lownsdale Square has a mens restroom, and a variety of war memorials: The Soldier Monument at the center of the square, along with the Ft. Sumter Cannons at its base, and the Fountain for Company H along 4th Ave. It has almost everything a hearty man of the 1890s might need, except possibly a section where gents with handlebar mustaches could show off their boxing and weightlifting prowess and generally try to catch the eye of the ladies in the next park over.

There are a few other less obviously gendered features to the place, as well. The Thompson Elk statue sits nearby in a traffic island between the two blocks. If you look closely you'll also see the tiny Benchmark Zero marker at the base of the Soldier Monument, if you're really into surveying stuff. And like Chapman Square, the park has many ginkgo trees, which drop large quantities of waxy nuts with a disgusting odor each fall. These nuts are reportedly quite delicious if prepared correctly. I actually wouldn't mind trying that, but I'm not inclined to gather them and try preparing them myself, and I'm not sure where one would go to buy them.

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