February 1, 2005
Referred to as the Cultural District, much of what Portland culture visitors seek is located along or very near the Park Blocks.
--The Center for the Performing Arts. With multiple venues (four auditorium/theater spaces), this is home to some 21 resident companies, including Oregon Symphony, Oregon Ballet Theater, Portland Youth Philharmonic, the Portland Opera, and the Children’s Theatre. It hosts a plethora of events and lectures throughout the year.
--The Portland Art Museum. The Northwest’s oldest art museum with significant holdings, and its associated Northwest Film Center and film festivals.
--The Oregon Historical Society. Where you can see the penny that was flipped to determine Portland‘s name.
--Portland State University, hosts lectures and other events, and whose college of Fine & Performing Arts presents regular performances of dance, opera, and music.
[The Portland Oregon Visitor Association has put together a self-guided walking tour of the district.]
Many events happen in the blocks. For example: held here are the Portland Arts Festival (a free Rose Festival event, in June), the annual May Day celebrations, and the Portland Farmers Market (April through December).
[There are North Park Blocks not contiguous to the South Park Blocks (about 8 blocks away), also an official city park. Generally, if something is said to be located or happening in the Park Blocks, it’s the South Park Blocks that’s meant, but it would be wise to get clarification.]
The Park Blocks are easily reached on foot, near public transit -- good because finding street parking nearby is virtually impossible. The city operates short-term Smart Park garages charging $.95 per hour for the first four hours and $2 for an entire evening or weekend day. The closest is about 2 blocks north of the Park Blocks northern end.
These 8.76 acres of the South Park Blocks, one of Portland’s oldest parks, deliberately provide an almost European flavor with large poplar and elm trees, raised flowerbeds, sculptures, and fountains (both drinking and decorative). A "cathedral of trees," laid out originally as a promenade, also serves as a popular hangout for humans, squirrels, and pigeons. This park made for walking is edged with benches. In more pleasant weather, you’ll see visitor and downtown office workers alike sharing their lunch with the birds. Lined with cultural venues, little cafés, and apartments, this greenway and its charming neighborhood is a pleasant space in which to spend time, even if just to rest your feet after hours of wandering through museums.
Contacts: 503-823-PLAY or 503-823-2223v/tt,
From journal Portland Greenspaces: Something for Everyone