Thursday, June 11, 2009

Water Fountain Destination - Portland, OR

It's time to pack your battery-operated fountain into your carry-on and shut down your stationary indoor and outdoor fountains in preparation for a trip to Portland, OR.

Today's Water Fountain Destination is truly fountain-rich. I don't often get into the local history, but this city is an exception. Founded in the mid-1800s by Asa Lovejoy and Francis W. Pettygrove (who bought William Overton's original 50% share) it was named Portland, as opposed to Boston, on the results of 2 out of three coin flips of the since-famous 'Portland Penny'. Pettygrove's hometown (Portland, Maine) and name choice thusly won out over that of Lovejoy's hometown.

During the city's growth spurt in the late 1800s, characters the likes of Joseph "Bunco" Kelly, a hotel owner who was a prominent shanghier of local drunks who he turned over to docked ships' Captains to replenish their crews (for a generous "per head" fee).

Another, "Sweet Mary," the proprietor of a brothel, who, to avoid paying taxes and adhere to other city laws, operated her bordello on a barge that ran up and down the Willamette River where she was, technically, outside of Portland's jurisdiction.

As the city stabilized, it cleaned itself up - especially the waterfront area. Simon Benson was a leader in this effort as a lumber baron, philanthropist and a teetotaller.

One day as he was walking the floor in his mill, he noted the smell of alcohol on his workers' breath. When he questioned the men as to why they drank during the day, they informed him that there was no fresh drinking water to be found downtown.

As a result, Benson commissioned 20 elegant freshwater drinking fountains, which are still in use today and have become known as the "Benson Bubblers".

It is said that beer consumption in the city went down by 25 percent after the fountains' installation in 1912. These (drinking) fountains, are the first or their kind I've mentioned so far in my posts, but they seem worthy as an important part of Portland's water fountain ambience and history.

And now, onto the larger display fountain structures...
Most of Portland's municipal fountains operate spring through fall from 6:30 am to 8 pm. Many fountains are people friendly/interactive and so I include these 'Rules to Remember':

Look, But Don't Drink: (The water is chlorinated to a level comparable with swimming pools).
Be Careful: People enjoy splashing around in the interactive fountains, (Jamison Square, McCoy, Holladay Park, Salmon Street Springs), and as such, there are potential dangers for unattended children and inattentive adults who may be oblivioius to slippery surfaces and rapidly moving water.

McCoy Fountain - Corner of N. Trenton Street and N. Newman Avenue. Recirculating nearly 8,000 gallons of water, it's water spouts from 35 jets at random intervals at heights of up to 6 feet.

There are seating ledges around this 710 sqare foot oval shaped fountain. Have a seat and find out why locals call it a "guessing" fountain". Who knows which of the 35 spouts will erupt next!

Holladay Park Fountain - Holladay Park at NE 11th and Multnomah. A spouting fountain with programmable nozzles and valves situated on several plumbing loops gerenate a scene of unexpected trajectories and sequences.

The oldest piece of public art in the city, Skidmore Fountain between SW Burnside and Ankeny, 1st and Front, marked the center of Portland when this bronze fountain went into operation in 1888. For nearly two decades, people drank from tin cups that hung from the lions' heads at the base of the fountain. This fountain is a gathering spot for visitors to the popular Saturday Marketthat features local artist' works and artisans' creations. A great people-watching event, too.

Salmon Street Springs at SW Salmon in Waterfront Park. This fountain is a celebration of city life. Computer regulated, the changing 185 jets generate patterns of water that are delightful to watch.

Lovejoy Fountain, named after the Portland Co-Founder is located in downtown Portland and celebrates the waterfalls and landscapes of the Northwest.

Chimney Fountain - North of SW Lincoln between 3rd and 4th. This small red-brick fountain offers the illusion of its waters flowing from between the "chimney" bricks.

Jamison Square Fountain between NW Kearney and Johnson and 10th and 11th Avenues - The fountain is a focal point of the Square. Water cascades from stone joints into low pools that simulate tidal pools.

Last, but most definately not least, the Ira Keller fountain, SW 3rd and Clay - is named after a man who promoted and instilled local civic pride. If you're only in town for only a day or evening with limited free time, this is the fountain to see.

The structure is one of the biggest waterworks in the city, covers a full city block and includes waterfalls and pools with greenery placed throughout. Its terraces and platforms are meant to suggest the Northwest's abundant waterfalls.

The sound of water flowing through the different waterfalls is loud enough to cancel out all city sounds, and the sight of the multi-levels of flowing water create a most un-urban atmosphere within Portland's business district.

The Keller is set up in a series of small fountains that you can actually sit in (like a hot tub) set over a sort of wading pool partially covered in concrete, so one may get seriously wet or just walk around taking in the sights, remaining perfectly dry or anything in-between. There are many signs placed around the structure reminding all to exercise caution in and around the water.

Don't forget to make some time to sample Portland's restaurants. The Northwest, Asian, and seafood selections are marvelous. And Portland's amazing Microbrewerys! They are not to be missed if you don't follow Simon Benson's rule.

Eat, drink and see Portland's fountains! And at night, in your room, start up your own portable fountain and let the sound remind you of the day's sights while helping you relax for a tranquil night of sleep. While relaxing, remember your home fountain awaits to offer you all its soothing and revitalizing benefits within the familiarity of your own environment.

The next Fountain destination - Las Vegas

No comments: