Washington Park is the largest and most famous urban park in Portland, Oregon, United States. Located on 1,500 acres between West Burnside Road and the Sunside Highway in Portland.
Many visitors come to Washington Park to visit the Oregon Zoo with its Asian elephants and Elephant Museum.
Also here is the World Forestry Center – Discovery Center, the International Rose Test Garden, the Portland Japanese Garden, Hoyt Arboretum, Children’s Museum, an amphitheater and many memorials.
But there is also something for active citizens like archery, tennis courts, soccer field, barbecue areas, playgrounds and many hectares of wild forest with hiking trails.
Washington Park extends over 410 acres (166 hectares) on mostly steep, wooded slopes. It encompasses 159.7 acres (64.63 ha) of municipal park officially designated “Washington Park” by the City of Portland. This includes the adjacent 64-acre Oregon Zoo and the 187-acre Hoyt Arboretum.
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History of Washington Park in Oregon
The City of Portland purchased 40.78 acres (16.5 ha) of the park from Amos King in 1871 for what was then a very high price. Back then it was a wilderness with few roads. In the mid-1880s, Charles M. Meyers was hired as a park ranger. He turned the park into a real park based on memories of his native Germany and European parks. In 1900 there were roads, paths, lawned areas, manicured hedges, flower gardens and a zoo. There was even a cable car in Washington City Park from the 1890s through the 1930s.
In 1887, the Oregon Zoo was established at Washington Park. It moved to where the Japanese Garden is now in 1925 and moved to its current location on the southern edge of the park in 1959. The only surviving structure from the old zoo is the elephant barn.
In 1903, changes to the park were recommended and implemented by John Charles Olmsted, of the Olmsted Brothers firm, a landscape architecture firm. In addition, the park name was changed from City Park to Washington Park in 1909.
When the county poor farm area closed in 1922, the 160 acres (64.75 ha) of land were added to Washington Park.
Things to do in Washington Park in Portland
Washington Park has over 15 miles (24 km) of hiking trails and many interesting sites to visit:
The Oregon Zoo is home to more than 2,000 animals from over 250 species in natural or semi-natural habitats. The zoo has a notable breeding of Asian elephants.
Washington Park Amphitheater
The Washington Park Amphitheater hosts many public concerts, including the free concert series – Washington Park Summer Festival.
The International Rose Test Garden
The International Rose Test Garden is the oldest official, continuously operating, public rose test garden in the United States. It displays more than 7,000 rose plants from more than 500 varieties. It contains a Shakespearean Garden within its boundaries as well as an Alpine Garden at the south end.
Rose Garden Children’s Park
The Rose Garden Children’s Park is a playground with many play elements suitable for children. It is also suitable for children with disabilities.
Portland Japanese Garden
The Portland Japanese Garden in Washington City Park is a 5.5-acre (2.2 ha) traditional Japanese garden. It is the highest rated Japanese garden in North America.
Oregon Holocaust Memorial
The Oregon Holocaust Memorial was dedicated on August 29, 2004 to commemorate the victims of the Holocaust.
World Forestry Center Discovery Museum
The World Forestry Center Discovery Museum features educational exhibits on forests and forest-related issues. The museum was established in 1906 in the Forestry Building of the Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition in Northwest Portland and moved to Washington Park in 1971. Permanent exhibitions explore the characteristics of forests around the world. Temporary exhibitions provide information on art, ecology, wildlife and woodwork.
Station Located at Les AuCoin Plaza, Washington Park Station is the only subway station on the MAX Light Rail system and is 260 feet (79 m) underground. This makes Washington Park Station the deepest transit station in North America.
The Hoyt Arboretum in Washington Park contains nearly 10,000 individual trees and shrubs of 1,100 species over approximately 187 acres (75.68 ha). It was founded in 1928.
Oregon Vietnam Veterans Memorial
The Oregon Vietnam Veterans Memorial was dedicated in 1987 to the Oregon residents killed or missing.
Portland Children’s Museum
The Portland Children’s Museum, founded in 1946, moved in 2001 to the former building formerly the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry.
Washington Park & Zoo Railway
The Washington Park & Zoo Railway is a 1950’s narrow-gauge railway that transports passengers on a 2-mile (3.2 km) line between the Rose Garden and the Zoo during the summer months.
The Veterans Memorial, the Zoo, the Children’s Museum, the Forestry Center and the MAX station are located in the southwestern part of the park. The arboretum is located just to the north, and the gardens, an amphitheater, playgrounds, and the Holocaust memorial are in the north-eastern part of the park.
There are also many statues and fountains in Washington Park in Portland such as: Lewis and Clark Memorial Column, Bronze Statue Coming of the White Man, Statue Sacajawea and Jean-Baptiste, Chiming Fountain Fountain, Loyal B. Stearns Memorial Fountain and Water Sculpture Frank E. Beach Memorial Fountain.
Another attraction at Portland’s Washington Park is Peacock in the Park, an annual variety show. The event was founded in 1987 and is free of charge.
Address of the Washington City Park attraction in Portland
1715 SW Skyline Blvd
Portland, OR 97221