Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Weird Portland Wednesday: The Green Green Parks of Home

I love parks with green grass flowing within banks of paths, with trees spreading their umbrellas of shade. Parks with sounds of children laughing, squealing with delight on swings and slides and fun. I love parks with trails that meander throughout the trees and bushes, leaving me thoughtful and content.

Portland has probably the most parks in the lower 48 with at least 279 parks and natural areas. We have one of the largest parks with Forest Park's nearly 7000 acres as well as the smallest park in the world: Mill Ends Park. Rated the smallest park by the Guinness Book of World Records, Mill Ends is about two feet in circumference. Like many of Portland's parks, there are often protests held there. 

One of the most beautiful parks in Portland is also one of my favorites: Cathedral Park. It sits under the enchanting St Johns Bridge, which is a suspension bridge from the Art Deco era. I was married under this bridge, a barefooted bride with daisies in my hair. My fella and sons and Doug's stepson wore Hawaiian shirts. Along with the sprinklers and the train and other chaos-makers during the ceremony, it was a splendid day.

And the park. The park is magnificent. It's not that large, just a bit over 21 acres, but it quietly says, "Peace" at every turn. The opening of the park has some lovely concrete steps out onto a circular platform and the park gently sweeps from there. Standing on the platform (which is where we held our wedding) looking out toward the Willamette River, you have a view of the cathedral pillars holding the bridge.

This park site is quite historical, as well as beautiful.  It is believed to be one of the 14 Lewis and Clark landing sites in the Vancouver-Portland area: William Clark and eight men camped there on April 2, 1806. It has also been a fishing and camping site for local Indian tribes. In 1847 the founder of St. Johns, James John, trapped and hunted on the site and operated a ferry to the fishing town of Linnton across the Willamette River. 

Apparently Cathedral Park is the one number historical landmark of Portland that is most often posted on Instagram.  The TV series, Leverage, was filmed in Portland and would use the park for many outdoor shoots. The television program, The Librarian, used the park as it's headquarters. Their library lair, or annex, was located at the base of the bridge.

The park, which was built in 1980, is home to many festivals and events. The year we were married, the Hood-to-Coast biking event was stopping at the park for a breather that weekend. This is why we were married on Friday rather than the expected Saturday. The Cathedral Park Jazz Festival, which started in 1981, is the oldest and largest free jazz and blues event west of the Mississippi. 

Cathedral Park, sitting beautifully under the St Johns Bridge, is one more way we keep Portland (happily) weird.

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