play Archives


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.

filled under
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.

filled under
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.

filled under
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)

filled under
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.

filled under
June 29, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0)



airwaves art ATMs
cameras cinema cyber
farmers markets gas stations groceries reading
record/CD shopping
splash thrifts & resale video yarn stores 'zines


beer food


houseparts navigation neighborhoods parents renting queer


accommodations Oregon Convention Center PDX airport things to do


home events links site map

Wanna contact us? Send us press releases, comments and, well, whatever? Here's how:
-vickijean at gmail dot com-


All the individual entries