The city of Portland is home to a wide variety of public fountains, many of them striking enough to mesmerize any plumber. Portland denizens appreciate having fountains where they can play and cool off in the summer months. The Portland Water Bureau maintains the city’s fountains, which are marvels of plumbing installation studied by tour groups and art students alike. Here’s a guide to enjoying Portland’s fountains this summer.
1. Keller Fountain, SW 3rd & Clay
Designed in 1971 by Angela Danadjieva, the Ira Keller Forecourt Fountain is simply stunning. Its blocky vertical face features “cliffs” where Portland’s aquatic-minded citizens enjoy perching on a hot summer’s day. Those more interested in sunbathing often sprawl out on the grassy areas surrounding the fountain. This jewel in the Portland plumbing system evokes the geography of the waterfalls in the Pacific Northwest.
2. Rose Petal Fountain, SE 106th & Stark
Located at 106th and SE Stark, the Rose Petal Fountain was designed in 1978. One of the only fountains in the area, the Rose Petal Fountain’s three spouts shoot recycled water over a rock installation known as the Stark Street Island. Because it’s one of the lesser-known fountains in Portland, the Rose Petal Fountain is wonderful for those hoping to catch some fun in the sun without fighting off crowds.
3. Skidmore Fountain, SW 1st & Ankeny
Dedicated to the memory of early Portland businessman Stephen G. Skidmore, the Skidmore Fountain was designed to allow dogs, horses, and humans to drink from its graceful spouts. Located deep in Old Town Portland, the fountain’s graceful design was inspired by the fountains of the 1878 Paris Expositions. According to a well-loved Portland story, native brew master Henry Weinhard offered to pump beer through the Skidmore Fountain at its dedication in 1888. Its central location in Old Town makes the Skidmore Fountain a lovely place to enjoy lunch from the Saturday Market or any number of downtown food carts.
4. Salmon Street Springs, SW Salmon & Naito Parkway
Tom McCall Waterfront Park, or just “Waterfront Park” for many Portlanders, brags one of Portland’s most famous and popular water fountains – the Salmon Street Springs fountain. This 137-jet display is called a “guessing fountain” because it is nearly impossible to predict where the water will come out next. An underground computer masterminds this Portland plumbing water show. The Salmon Street Fountain is a wonderful place to people watch.
5. Holladay Park Fountain
Like Salmon Street Springs, the Holladay Park Fountain’s programmed nozzles shoot water in playful arches over the heads of passers-by. Designers Murase Associates and Tim Clemen included a programmable system of valves and nozzles so as to add an element of spontaneity to the fountain.
As you can see, Portland plumbing is anything but boring once you know where to look! Even if you’re not a plumber, Portland has water features that will delight and fascinate your mind while refreshing your body. So, the next time the summer sun has got you feeling exhausted, pack some sun block and a picnic lunch and head to one of Portland’s charming water fountains.