Water Fountains and Portland, Oregon
Thoughts of Portland Oregon are almost always linked to thoughts of water. The largest city in Oregon is best known for being a rain-soaked city at the convergence of the Willamette and Columbia Rivers. Portland also has a vast number of lakes, waterfalls and beaches located nearby. However, right in the city, there are a number of artistic and intriguing outdoor water fountains, the largest collection in the United States, or even around the world. These fountains range in purpose from drinking fountains to stunning focal points to a cool place to play in the water on a hot day!
When the Portland weather turn sunny and warm in the Spring and Summer (which it really does), people gather to the cities 17 exciting fountains, and 120 drinking fountains spread throughout the city. Get a nice cool drink or spend an afternoon playing in the fountains with your family, you are sure to enjoy all of these wonderful fountains.
Below is a brief account of some fountains found in Portland:
Learn about Portland's Benson Bubblers
These elaborate bronzed fountains are actually drinking water fountains. The legendary “Benson Bubblers feature 4 bubbling bowls, that provide fresh and cool drinking water throughout the downtown area.
The unique history of the “Benson Bubblers” is a colorful tale. Simon Benson, a lumber baron, noticed that his employees were partaking in drinking alcohol during their working hours, claiming there was no fresh water to drink as they worked. His philanthropic nature, as well as his feelings toward the Tolerance movement, led him to pay for the installment of 20 fountains, that flowed 24 hours a day.
After the installment of these creative fountains, the saloon sales dropped roughly 40%, although the Tolerance movement was a big factor as well. The Benson Bubblers are still an integral part of downtown Portland’s cultural attractions, enjoyed by all.
Possibly Portland's Most Popular fountain: Salmon Street Springs
One of the most popular and beautiful water displays of all of Portland’s fountains, the Salmon Street Springs fountain features a large gathering of people on any nice day! Features in the Tom McCall Waterfront Park, the fountain features a beautiful backdrop of the Willamette River and its lush green banks. This fountain features three rhythmic water cycles, creating a “guessing game” for visitors, who never know what patter the water will take.
Pools and Waterfalls- The Ira Kelly Forecourt Fountain
This unique series of fountains, forming pools and waterfalls, is a great retreat for your entire family. Play in the cool pools, climb up the stairs, or just sit close by and enjoy the mist that sprays around you.
The centrally located Ira Keller Forecourt fountain was designed based off of the naturally forming waterfalls. Michael Lawrence Halprin was the designer and he built this delightful fountain in 1971. This fountain pumps out over 13,000 gallons of water a minute! Located across from Portland’s City Auditorium, this fountain is a central place to spend an entertaining afternoon!
The Skidmore Fountain—created for "horses, men, and dogs"
A fountain once considered to be too elegant for a frontier town, the Skidmore Fountain, designed by Stephen Skidmore, was inspired from the Paris Exposition in 1878. Skidmore wanted to create something as elegant and beautiful for his own town. Skidmore created the fountain to be a service to “horses, men, and dogs”.
The Skidmore Fountain is the centerpiece of the Portland Saturday Market, which is run every weekend from March through December.
The Pioneer Courthouse Square Fountain sits in what is thought of as the “living room” of Portland. The fountain is the beautiful and mesmerizing focal point. In 2006, $120,000 was allocated to restore the severely deteriorating fountain. Returning it to the multi-level cascading water wonder it originally was.
The McCoy Fountain was the first fountain to move out of the downtown Portland area. Placed in the McCoy Park, the goal was to create a common area for the children and families of the New Columbia Housing Project.
An organic fountain: the Lovejoy Fountain
Another Lawrence Halprin creation, the Lovejoy Fountain Plaza was built in 1966. Halprin is a designer that incorporates artwork into his landscapes, making them a perfect accent to their environment.
This fountain is an organic feature, fit perfectly into the landscape it was designed for. It features levels of concrete staircases, creating a modern accent for this urban city. Immersed in the middle of a tree covered luscious park, the Lovejoy Fountain is the perfect hidden retreat in an urban setting.
Learn more about Oregon's many waterfalls and fountains by visting the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department Web Site