North Park Blocks

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North Park Blocks
Da Tung and Xi'an Bao Bao in the park in 2006
TypeUrban park
LocationPortland, Oregon, United States
Coordinates45°31′28″N 122°40′43″W / 45.52444°N 122.67861°W / 45.52444; -122.67861Coordinates: 45°31′28″N 122°40′43″W / 45.52444°N 122.67861°W / 45.52444; -122.67861[1]
Area3.11 acres (1.26 ha)
Operated byPortland Parks & Recreation
StatusOpen 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily

The North Park Blocks form a city park in downtown Portland, Oregon, in the United States.[2] Most of the park is in northwest Portland (north of Burnside), but one block is in southwest Portland (south of Burnside).

Description and history[edit]

Captain John H. Couch deeded the five blocks to the city in 1865, and they were officially platted for a municipal park in 1869.[3][4] An ordinance was passed in 1904, setting aside one park block for women and children.[5] In 1906, another block was added for a children's playground.[5] The playground was divided into a boys' playground and a small childrens' and girls' playground.[5] Use of the North Park Blocks declined, especially as the 1924 zoning code did not preserve residential uses near them.[5]

By the 1940s, the North Park Blocks area was decidedly neglected.[3] A problem with the homeless and aggressive panhandlers led to Daisy Kingdom and the U.S. Customs House to hire security guards, and park sprinklers were set to intermittently spray sleepers. In 1989, the problem was worse; that year the local Montessori School found drug users and discarded needles in the city playground.[6]

View of the Park Blocks, July 2016

In 2002, Chinese foundry owner Huo Baozhu donated Da Tung and Xi'an Bao Bao, full-size bronze reproductions of Shang dynasty elephant statues, to Portland. The city placed them on the North Park Blocks where children could interact with them.[7]

In recent years, the North Park Blocks have experienced a renaissance. Upscale condominiums and creative commercial buildings have replaced vacant or underutilized buildings. One major project was the 2014–15 major renovation of the historic 511 Federal Building, a former federal post office built in 1916–18, to become the new main campus of the Pacific Northwest College of Art.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "North Park Blocks". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. May 26, 2004. Retrieved February 26, 2010.
  2. ^ "North Park Blocks". Portland Parks & Recreation. Retrieved February 26, 2010.
  3. ^ a b Pickett, Nelson (March 20, 1992). "North Park Blocks improvements under way". The Oregonian. p. E02.
  4. ^ Nicholas, Jonathan (December 24, 1991). "Setting straight the crooked record". The Oregonian. p. D01.
  5. ^ a b c d Mackenzie, Hilary (1988). The Portland Park Blocks: their origin and development (thesis). Seattle, Washington: University of Washington. OCLC 19841853.
  6. ^ Lane, Dee (May 27, 1990). "Running out of patience". The Oregonian. p. B01.
  7. ^ Leeson, Fred; Chuang, Angie (May 11, 2002). "Elephant in bronze will grace Portland". The Oregonian. p. A01.
  8. ^ Gallivan, Joseph (February 5, 2015). "Art school tries on a grown-up building: PNCA moves into the spectacularly renovated old Federal building on the North Park Blocks". Portland Tribune. p. 1. Retrieved June 17, 2016.

External links[edit]