OregonScape: Winter 2014

Winter 2014, 115:4

Portland residents have become accustomed to changes in their city over the years. Wharves and warehouses lining the Willamette River were replaced by the seawall and Harbor Drive. Harbor Drive was replaced by Waterfront Park. Commuters once rode trolleys, then buses, now light rail trains. Occasionally, however, it is possible to find a place that has barely changed in the last century. Such a place is in Washington Park, where Southwest Sacajawea Boulevard meets Southwest Lewis & Clark Circle.

In the center of this image, taken in about 1915, is a fountain created by John Staehli. Erected in 1891, it was originally known as the Cherub Fountain. As is apparent in this image, the figure of a small boy topped the fountain. However, during freezing weather in the 1920s, the statue was damaged by ice expansion when the water was mistakenly left on, and the top of the fountain has since remained unadorned. Without its cherub, the fountain gained a new name, the Chiming Fountain, from the sound made by falling water hitting the metal bowls.

To the left of the fountain stands the statue of Sacajawea by Alice Cooper. First exhibited at the Lewis & Clark Exposition of 1905, the statue was moved to its present location in Washington Park late in 1906 when a rock base was ready to support the artwork. Sacajawea, or Sacagawea, looks to the west, carrying her son, Jean Baptiste, on her back. On the far right, a man stands at the railing looking into Reservoir 3.

It is possible to stand where the camera stood to take this picture, although as that spot is now in the middle of Southwest Sacajawea Boulevard, one needs to keep a very wary eye out for cars. Trees have grown and obscured some of the landmarks. Other trees have been removed and opened new vistas, but that is the nature of change in city parks.