The Fountains of Portland Walking Tour is one of many Portland walking tour articles that Cultural Oregon has been covering. We have no doubt that readers will also enjoy the following downtown Portland attractions.
Portland’s Department of Parks maintains miles of trails and acres upon acres of parks that are enjoyed year round by visitors and residents. Rivaling Portland’s parks for beauty are a series of magnificent fountains maintained by the city’s water department.
There is a self-guided Portland walking tour of these spectacular pieces of art that is just over two and one half miles long and takes around two hours to complete. It is was one of the great downtown Portland attractions. Many folks cool off by wading in the fountains, but, the water in the fountains is recycled and is not safe for drinking.
The Pioneer Square Courthouse Fountain is the first stop on this Downtown Portland walking tour.
Peter Minuit bought Manhattan Island from the Canarsie Indians for $24 worth of hatchets, cloth and beads. In 1849 Elijah Hill, bought the block that Pioneer Square sits on for $24 and a pair of boots.
While it cannot be seriously argued that Hill got as good a deal a Peter Minuet he did get a good deal. The first Portland schoolhouse was first constructed on this plot of land.
Now it is home to the most popular and frequently visited of the Portland attarctions – The Pioneer Square Courthouse Fountain.
It was designed by architect Will Martin and its primary architectural feature is the use of imported tile. Martin playfully included in the design a sculpture of his bronze hat which can be seen at the fountain’s top.
This icon of Portland was built in 1983 on SW Broadway Ave and Yamhill Street (See Map Below)
Animals in Pools Fountains
Eleven pools are home to 25 statues of animals found in the Pacific Northwest such as seals, bears, otters and dear. Each animal by itself is a great art work and together you see them as peaceful participants in play at a lake or river.
This outdoor art was created by Georgia Gerber who at the time it was unveiled said she was trying to bring the abundant Pacific Northwest wildlife into the city center. She certainly succeeded and almost every day office and shop workers from nearby locations lunch with the fountains as their back drop.
They, the animals, are only a block away from Pioneer Square at SW Yamhill and Morrison Streets, between sixth and fifth streets (See Map Below).
This wonderful gift to the city was unveiled in 1926. It is sometimes called “Rebecca at the Well” as the center of the fountain sculpture is the biblical Rebecca, wife of Isaac. It was a gift from Joseph Shemanski, a Polish immigrant who settled in Portland and became a successful businessman.
This 3rd stop on the Portland walking tour is triangular in shape and has water dishes at its base for dogs to drink from. The fountain was designed by Carl Linde who was a very well-known local architect. It is made of sandstone. The bronze statue of Rebecca, which is the centerpiece of the fountain was cast by Oliver Laurence Barrett, an art professor at the University of Oregon.
The Shemanski is located between Main and Salmon in downtown Portland. (See Map Below)
The next Portland walking tour fountain is thought by many as an optical illusion. This is a small brick structure that was part of the Portland Development Commission’s inaugural urban renewal project. When folks look at this fountain it appears as if smoke is seeping through the chimney; the illusion is created by water flowing through the bricks.
It’s a modest outdoor art work, but if you know the story behind it then it gains importance. The tale is that the chimney symbolizes the neighborhood before urban renewal. The area was home to Italian and Jewish immigrants who had small homes here as well as shops. There were many synagogues in the area too. It’s located next to SW Lincoln St., along the pedestrian-only 2nd Avenue walkway (See Map Below).
The Lovejoy Fountain holds a special place in Oregon history.
This stop on the Portland walking tour will provide visitors with first hand knowledge of a Portland myth! The legend is that Francis Pettygrove and Asa Lovejoy did a two out three coin toss for naming rights to the city. Asa lost. A second coin toss between the two followed to determine which of two parks would be named for each. In 1966 renowned San Francisco architect Lawrence Halprin designed the “Lovejoy” Fountain.
This amazing work of art immediately brings to mind rugged Oregon streams. The fountain has an upper pool that overflows. As the water makes it way down the fountain it becomes a foaming waters and then ends in another quiet pool.
This one of the fountains that are part of the downtown Portland attractions is in a park is at SW 3rd Avenue, between Lincoln and Harrison streets (See Map Below).
This work was also part of Portland’s successful downtown urban renewal which Halprin has a large part in designing.
Dreamer Fountain is number six on this Portland walking tour stop.
The Portland walking tour fountain was installed in 1979 by the Portland Development Commission. Manuel Izquierdo, professor emeritus of Pacific Northwest College of Art was the artist who created “The Dreamer.”
When it was unveiled he said the sculpture: “Speaks of hope, of beauty and serenity, of love, and for a better life in our midst.” So that the statue would not disturb onlookers observing it in the rain, he filled the cast bronze statue with foam. This allows the statue to make a soft sound when rain strikes it rather than booming like a drum.
Ira Keller Forecourt Fountain
This Portland walking tour fountain is special! It seems that urban renewal was a key factor in the commissioning of many of Portland’s landmark fountains. This is certainly true for the Ira Keller Forecourt Fountain. The fountain for this space was proposed by Lawrence Halprin, the San Francisco architect who played a prominent role in Portland’s urban renewal efforts in the late 1960s and 1970s.
The waterfall was designed by Angela Danadjieva and was completed in 1970. The Portland walking tour fountain has an intricate network of platforms and terraces and 13,000 gallons of water per minute tumble though it every minute reminding onlookers of the vast number of waterfalls found in the Northwest. It was an instant hit! Until 1978 it was known simply as the Forecourt Fountain but was rededicated in 1978 following the death that year of Ira Keller who was the first chairman of the Portland Development Committee.
The fountain at SW 3rd and 4th Avenues between Market and Clay streets (See Map Below).
Elk Fountain is a main stay Downtown Portland Attraction on the Portland walking tour of fountains.
This is one of the more famous downtown Portland attractions and was actually the work of two artists.
Roland Perry cast the bronze for the beautiful elk in the fountain and H.G. Wright was responsible for the stunning stonework. The fountain is over 100 years; it was unveiled in 1900.
The fountain was a gift from Portland mayor Dave Thompson and is located in Lownsdale Square (See Map Below).
It was designed as a watering trough for the city’s horses and dogs. The elk was to commemorate the native elk herds that grazed on the lands where the city now sits.
Salmon Street Springs Fountain
This amazing piece of engineering is controlled by a computer. The pattern of water is randomly changed every 20 minutes. Unveiled in 1978, this concrete work was designed by Robert Perron. It was named via a citywide contest. This popular gathering place is at SW Salmon Street at Gov. Tom McCall Waterfront Park (See Map Below).
Nearby to the Gov. Tom McCall Waterfront Park is Ankeny Plaza where the oldest fountain in Portland is found (See Map Below).
It is also the oldest piece of commissioned public art found in Portland. It was put on display in 1888 and is made of bronze and granite. This stop on the Portland walking tour for fountains is located in old Portland’s downtown business district. The funds for first of many downtown Portland attractions were a gift from druggist Stephen Skidmore who left the city $5,000 in his will for the fountain – his will provided the money for “horses, men, and dogs” to be able to get a cold drink.
Olin Warner was the artist who created the fountain. He used his wife’s face as a model for some of the sculpturing found on the fountain. Warner was a famous artist of his day who was well-known in New York City.
Car Wash Fountain finishes up this Portland walking tour. Enjoy.
An unusual shape is responsible for the fountains name.
When winds exceed 2 MPH the fountain is automatically shut off so that passersby do not get soaked.
This intriguing steel work was done by four artists, Carter, Hull, Nishita, McCulley and Baxter.
Unveiled in 1977 it is at SW 5th Avenue & Ankeny Street downtown (See Map Below).
Lee Kelly’s Fountain
This is the last stop of the self-guided fountain tour. The artist who designed this sculpture was Oregon native Lee Kelly who won an international competition for the privilege of designing this fountain which was dedicated in 1977 and restored 2004.
The Lee Kelley Fountain is another example of an artist showing the influence of the Pacific Northwest ruggedness by forcing an image of powerful waterfalls on the viewer. It is a magnificent experience.
The fountain is at SW 6th Ave & SW Pine St (See Map Below). Now, after visiting all these great downtown Portland attractions how about a snack and a cool drink?
Topics of this page include Portland Walking Tour, Downtown Portland Attractions, Downtown Portland, Portland