a.k.a. "The Cultural District"
Originally intended to be twenty-five blocks long, the Park Blocks
were supposed to run all the way through the city to the Willamette River. Though they were deeded to the city for use as parks, missteps in the estates of Daniel Lownsdale and Benjamin Stark allowed their "donated" blocks to go into private hands. Thus, the blocks between Salmon and Burnside streets were developed, breaking the connection with the North Park Blocks. In 1853, numerous lots bordering on the South Park Blocks were deeded to fraternal organizations and churches, explaining the high ratio of churches in this stretch of the city.
* The Park Blocks were once encircled by a dirt track known as "The Boulevard," where horse racing occurred. Continuing the tradition, bicycle time trials are sometimes held here today.
The tile-roofed Shemanski Fountain (1926) is at the north end of the narrow (100 feet by 200 feet) South Park Blocks. Notable architect Carl Linde designed this sandstone structure around Oliver Barrett's bronze sculpture ("Rebecca at the Well"). The fountain was gifted to the city by Jewish immigrant and dog lover Joseph Shemanski. Upon its installation, it was criticized on "aesthetic" grounds by the Portland Arts Commission (cretins!); the fountain was restored in 2004. Its prominent location in front of the Arlington Club is ironic, as Jews were not allowed there as members until the late 1960s.
Further south, the statue of Teddy Roosevelt (1922, Alexander Phimister Proctor; dedicated by Calvin Coolidge) was given to the park by Dr. Henry David Coe, who was a life-long friend of Roosevelt's. Coe also donated the sculpture of Abraham Lincoln (1928, George Fite Waters), a statue that was initially criticized for its melancholy demeanor.
* Abraham Lincoln was offered the job of Oregon Territory governor in 1849. He declined the post, noting the area's strong Democratic base and the fact that his wife didn't want to move west. (But what did she know; she was crazy!)Less Text