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Swimming (and immersion in water) in Portland

Fountains and the like to play in

Portland Parks Bureau refers to these as "water play". I haven't come up with any better, really....

Essential Forces Fountain

Rose Quarter, south side of the Rose Garden Arena
North of Multnomah, between Wheeler & Interstate
get there via trimet
find a bike route
11a to 11p

Essential ForcesThere is something so inherently dissatisfying about this fountain. Yes, you can play in it, and yes, it does appear lots of folks bring their kids there, but it's so... blegh. It taunts you. You want water, and it toys with you. Grrrrr!

Here's some official info that the Rose Garden Arena sends to potential clients:

Your guests can enjoy the sights and sounds of the elliptical water and fire feature, "Essential Forces"- a one-of-a-kind fountain composed of nearly 500 kinetic water jets. The two pillars of water and fire welcome guests to Rose Quarter events with its magnetic aura.

Here's what Atul666 wrote about it in Cyclotram, which I think sums up my feelings quite nicely:
One of those timed, computer-controlled fountains beloved by casinos and some (but by no means all) small children (and by them only on hot days). Actively anxiety-inducing, which is really remarkable for something made entirely of running water. And that's even without the "fire feature" running, which only happens before big sports events at the arena.

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June 27, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Ira Keller Civic Forecourt Fountain

SW Third & Market
get there via trimet
find a bike route

Ira's Fountain
Ira's Fountain
A lot of people diss the urban renewal blocks or South Auditorium District. And honestly, a lot of the buildings in it are those 70s anonymous charmless almost-soviet rectangles. But the Forecourt/Fourcourt/Ira's Fountain is an excellent place to people watch, eat lunch, chill out, or get wet. This is arguably the most visually compelling and best known fountain in town, a small island of serenity in downtown.

With lots of stairs and platforms, as well as grass in the shade and in the sun, there are lots of places to sit without getting wet. With it's secretive spaces, it's easy to feel like you are unseen (though you are). And there are lots of places to get spray from the cascades, or just end up ankle, knee or hip deep in chilly water.

Parents of small children will either want to take their kids to the lower, shallow, pooling area, rather than the falls, and they'll want to keep a close eye on them. This fountain may be better suited for older kids, teens, and adults, which you'll see in abundance.

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June 30, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Jamison Square Fountain

810 NW 11th Ave
get there via trimet
find a bike route

Jamison Square
Jamison Park bike rally
Jamison Square is a new park in the Pearl District. While the park is divided into particular areas, the most noteworthy is certainly the kid-friendly fountain. On warm days it continuously recirculates treated water into low pools that slowly drains. The water is extremely shallow, so it's perfect for smaller tykes, but there's enough variation that older kids can be kept guessing as well.

The park is right on the Streetcar line, adjacent to both pizza by the slice, a drugstore, and fancy restaurants that would not appreciate wet clothing. There's lots of comfortable areas for people watching, including benches and grassy nolls with young trees. Car parking is all metered, and there's a fair amount of bike parking as well.

The one potential problem is that this fountain, like the others favored by residents for a quick (or prolonged) spraydown, is very popular. On a hot day it can draw hundreds of users from around the city.

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June 28, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Lovejoy Plaza Fountain

SW 3rd Ave & Harrison St
get there via trimet
find a bike route

Lovejoy Fountain
Lovejoy Fountain
This is the other fountain designed by Lawrence Halprin, the prolific and accomplished American landscape architect, in the urban renewal blocks. It's a secret, so be sure to tell no one!

Compared to Ira's Fountain, this is the black sheep, the underloved child. Ira's attracts folks like a magnet, whereas this seems to not have enough strength to repel people. I'm told folks in the apartments and condos nearby use it to wade and cool off, but I see so few signs of that when I wander around during the work day.

It's a curious space, to be certain. The fountain, by itself, is quite pleasant, and it has areas that are designed for visitors to interact with water. And walking along these carfree corridors is a great way for me to lose a bad mood.

Here's what is said about this fountain and how it fits into the rest of the urban renewal blocks:

The Lovejoy and Forecourt Fountains are part of the Portland Open-Space Sequence designed by Halprin in 1965. In his notes about the work, Halprin talks about "urban gardens" and how "they reveal a relation to the rest of the city, emphasizing movement through the malls." The visitor can walk from the open Lovejoy Plaza to the green Pettigrove Park to dramatic Forecourt Fountain. Again, the idea of the choreographed movement through artwork is intensely important.

Beginning with the wide-open stepped concrete plaza at Lovejoy, the visitor is brought into Halprin's vision of the rocks of the High Sierra, where the board-formed steps echo the ledges of rocks recorded during Halprin's hikes for inspiration. The fountain is successful in developing a variety of vistas and water modifiers, that is to say, ways to make the water perform in both active and contemplative manners. The large open areas and the accompanying wooden wing-like structure, designed by architect Charles Moore, invite the public's participation.

Water Garden: Lawrence Halprin and the East Capitol Campus; A report by the Washington State Office of Archaeology and Historic Preservation and the Washington State Arts Commission (PDF)

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July 5, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Salmon Street Springs

SW Naito (Front) at Salmon in Tom McColl Waterfront Park
get there via trimet
find a bike route

Salmon Street SpringsIf you mention Portland fountains you can play in, Salmon Street Springs comes instantly to mind. Located in Tom McColl Waterfront Park at the end of Salmon Street, you can see the fountain from Broadway, and in warm weather, it is always full of people.

There are three cycles of the fountain, called misters, bollards, and wedding cake. (Bollards are the stubby things along the river that you can tie your giant ship to, or in my case, run into while dodging traffic on the waterfront). Here's a better description from Haschel47:

In the first setting, a tiny spray covers the central area. This setting is popular with little kids, because they can run through the water without fear of getting hurt. In the second, three circles of water jets in the middle shoot straight up. The closer the jets are to the outside, the lower they go. This creates an image resembling a wedding cake. This arrangment is a bit more dangerous; the central jet shoots with the force of a fire hose. Finally, in the third setting, water jets around the perimeter of the fountain arc inwards, creating a huge downfall of water in the middle. Although it is fun to stand in the middle and be bombarded by all of jets, this is not recommended for little kids.

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June 29, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Here is one of those things that makes me obviously not a Northwesterner. I don't swim in rivers. No. Do Not. Every summer, indeed, every season, Portlanders drown in area rivers. It's not just kids & the inebriated, who drown in a couple inches of water; Portland area rivers claim careful and strong swimmers too.

Still, I understand that some of you will swim in rivers. Just know that some rivers are more dangerous than others. The Sandy River seems harmless, but with its cold water, strong current, and its predilection towards change, it's not.

by body of water:

Blue Lake Park
Blue Lake Dr. in Gresham?Fairview?East County?
(just south of Marine Drive, west of 238th)

this is practically a swimming pool, and it will be as crowded on sunny days. No pets. There is a per-vehicle charge. Call 797-1850 for more information.

Creston Pool
SE 44th & Powell
Newly renovated, heated, outdoor, slides! Phone: 823-3672.

Elk Rock Island
SE Sparrow & 19th in Milwaukie
Cool name, huh? No facilities, but no crowds either. For more information, call 823-2223

George Rogers Park
S. State Street & Ladd Avenue, Lake Oswego
The water is slow here, and warms up quickly, and, a sandy beach! Call 636-9673 for more information

Grant Park Pool
2300 NE 33rd
Outdoor, heated swimming pool. Telephone: 823-3674.

Lake Oswego Swim Park
SW Ridgeway Rd
Limited hours (last I checked, 12-6) but it also has a lifeguard, shady areas, is free, and has snacks! Call 636-9673 for more information

Montavilla Pool
8219 NE Glisan
Outdoors. Phone: 823-3675.

North Clackamas Aquatic Park
7300 SE Harmony, Milwaukie
Okay, this is indoors, and pricey if you aren't a Clackmas County resident. Out-of-district fees bring the cost up to $10 for an adult. But, damn, it's a wave pool, Oregon's only one, and not surprisingly our largest aquatic center. And of course there are slides (four!), a whirlpool for adults only, a snackbar and all the other goodies you would expect from a pricey new entertainment complex, I mean, county facility.

Peninsula Pool
6400 N Albina & Portland Blvd.
This outdoor pool is no great shakes appearance-wise, but it is one of the most interesting Portland pools historywise. Acquired in 1913, the Peninsula Pool was built on Liverpool Liz's Place, along with Portland's first public rose garden. The pool was built in part to replace the closed bathhouses that had been in use on the increasingly polluted Willamette River (sound familiar?). Peninsula also housed Humboldt penguins in 1957, while the Washington Park Zoo finished its penguin facilities, to the delight of Albina residents. Phone: 823-3677.

Pier Pool
N Seneca & St. Johns
Outdoor pool. Phone: 823-3678.

Powers Marine Park
Just south of the Sellwood Bridge on the west end
There is a barbecue pit, but the restrooms are usually locked. I think that makes it free! For more information call 823-2223.

Rooster Rock
Take I-84 to exit 25 (Rooster Rock State Park)
-- yes, this makes Blue Lake seem right in town, and yes, you will be swimming in the Columbia (hint: Hanford's tanks are leaking and they are within feet of the Columbia. Just a few years ago it was rated the most radioactive river in the world), but this is a favorite place to see and be seen, and since it is always windy, chances are it will be cooler than the city. It's a state park, so there is a park fee... For information call 695-2261.

Roslyn Lake
Sandy east on US 26, turn left on TenEcyk Rd, left on Thomas, and follow the signs
There is a per-vehicle charge. A peaceful shady lake with picnic areas, concessions and paddle-boat rentals(!!).

Collins Beach, Sauvie Island
take the road the runs along the southside of the Island until it dead-ends.
Primitive and lovely. Clothed and unclothed.The Cracker Barrel Grocery, just across the bridge on the island, or the Linnton Feed & Seed in Linnton have more information, and sell the requisite parking permits.

Sellwood Pool
SE 7th & Miller, Sellwood
Outdoors, heated. Another old pool built to replace the Willamette river bathhouses (in particular, a floating municipal bathhouse with a slat bottom!) at the foot of Jefferson Street. The Sellwood pool has been in continuous use since 1910 and was the first structure of its kind in the city. It's a cool pool, too. Phone: 823-3679

Vancouver Lake Park
from I-5, exit onto Fourth Plain in Vancouver, head west (left) and stay on Lower River Rd all the way there
There is a parking fee, and they have everything but lifeguards: concessions, picnic areas, shade, volleyball courts. The water is warm, too. For more information call 360/696-8171.

Wilson Pool
Wilson High School, 1151 SW Vermont
There are two pools here with a giant slide & a diving board, concessions, and more.

City (of Portland) Indoor Pools

with open swim (you can get more information at the frustrating City Parks & Rec page

Columbia Park Pool
7701 N Chautauqua, just north of Lombard
A rundown indoor pool. Columbia Pool Phone: 823-3669.

Dishman Pool
77 NE Knott, between Williams & MLK Jr. Blvd.
The swankiest indoor pool in town. Or at least in the city limits. Woo hoo! Telephone: 823-3673.

Mt. Scott Pool
5530 SE 72nd & Harold
Indoor, heated swimming pool. Phone: 823-3676.

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September 4, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (3)



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