every park in portland

EPIP: Sewallcrest Park

SE 31st Avenue and Market Street
Neighborhood: Richmond

A nice little dog park in a nice little part of town. Comes with a community garden, a playground for the kids, and a large flat off-leash area to let your dog run around in. The area is also a baseball diamond but I suspect people probably play kickball there more than baseball, considering the prices of some of these houses. It is surrounded by a lovely neighborhood that I would personally love to live in. If anyone wants to give me around $750-850,000 dollars to help me move in, that would be great.

Aesthetics: It’s fairly basic, but the surrounding neighborhood is nice, so that helps. 7/10

Function: If you have a dog, 10/10. If you don’t have a dog, it’s standard fare. 5/10

Sketchiness: I cannot imagine anything sketchy happening in this park. Too surrounded by residential homes full of people with money. 1/10

every park in portland

EPIP: Oregon Park

NE 30th Avenue and Oregon Street
Neighborhood: Kerns

I didn’t even know this park existed until I drove by it one day on my way to getting a slow leak in one of my tires patched at a Les Schwab nearby. It’s a nice little residential park, a perfect place to bring the kids and let them tire themselves out. It has some amenities like a basketball court and a playground, and the tall trees all around are a welcome reminder that this entire area used to be forest. A good place to get away from the urban life for a moment and enjoy nature.

Aesthetics: The trees add a point onto what would otherwise be an average looking park. (You’ll see what I mean when we get into east Portland parks.) 5/10

Function: It’s got stuff to do and play on! 5/10

Sketchiness: I honestly don’t know how sketchy this place is since I’ve barely ever been here. It doesn’t looks sketchy at all but when I arrived there was a man resting on top of a picnic table, so …? 4/10

every park in portland

EPIP: South Waterfront Park

S River Dr. and S Montgomery St.
Neighborhood: South Portland

This is a little park nestled near the river, in what is a kind of rich portion of the city. I hesitate to call it “chic.” I’m not sure what to call this section of Portland, to be honest. Ritzy? It’s like a small residential spot for people who have money, you know what I mean? I think there are condos here for people who have a condo as an extra home away from home. That kind of vibe.

The park itself is fine, though nothing much to look at. It honestly feels like a place rich people would build to take their dogs to pee. That plus older Asian people sitting on the benches are the only things I see when I pass by this park. Women in brilliantly white pants walking tiny dogs, and old Asian men and women sitting on the benches. That’s the vibe of this park.

Aesthetics: Eh. It’s alright. 4/10

Function: Eh. 2/10

Sketchiness: A homeless person daren’t tread these brick pathways, lest a furious Karen call the security guards on them. 1/10

every park in portland

EPIP: Tom McCall Waterfront Park

Naito Parkway between SW Harrison Street and NW Glisan Street
Neighborhoods: Oldtown-Chinatown, Downtown, South Portland

I absolutely chose the worst time of year to visit this park. Obviously, the best time is when the cherry trees blossom. What can you do.

Tom McCall was the governor and Secretary of State of Oregon back in the 60s and 70s. Waterfront Park is a staple to people working in downtown Portland. It is a place where you can escape the rat race and walk for your mental health. It’s a long strip along the Willamette and it’s often used for hosting big events in the spring and summer, much to the chagrin of the grass there. Also, I’m just now noticing how much the Morrison Bridge on and off ramps make it look like a cock and balls.

This park is one of those places that everyone congregates to, including Canada geese. It’s nice, because the lowliest bum and the top paid lawyer both walk this path often. The great leveler, in a way.

Aesthetics: Honestly, it varies. Like I said, the cherry blossoms are lovely and the park looks good when it’s not hosting an event. After events, the ground is muddy and gross. 6/10

Function: This space has been “macro” function. No basketball hoops, but you can host biiiiig events here. The South Waterfront Park hosts a huge jazz festival, for instance, and the Shamrock Run is hosted here as well. 9/10

Sketchiness: Parts of the park, especially in notoriously sketchy Oldtown-Chinatown, are not great to walk through. I’ve never felt completely unsafe at this park but I’ve definitely walked by people having mental health crises to varying degrees, a couple of whom were violent. It’s really more of a “downtown part of a city” than anything else though. Don’t let it stop you from taking a walk here! 5/10

every park in portland

EPIP: Laurelhurst Park

SE Cesar E Chavez Blvd and Stark Street
Neighborhood: Laurelhurst

Nestled in arguably one of the most expensive residential areas of Portland, Laurelhurst Park is, to me, the closest thing we have to a Central Park. It’s a diverse park, gorgeous with lots of tree cover and winding pathways, and with a nice lake on the eastern side. An annex to the south has a playground and basketball court, but if you want a park where you can just stroll and enjoy the scenery, Laurelhurst is where it’s at.

You’ll notice on the upper left of the park there’s a big house. That’s a big house. You can read more about it here: The Bitar Mansion. It seems that there’s not much info about it post-2011. I’ve walked by that house many times, and I learned during its renovation that they cut down a bunch of old rhododendron bushes. Some guy told me that while I was walking by one day. He said that the (new?) owner was crazy. I dunno, folks.

Aesthetic: Beautiful park. Even the playground side of it is beautiful. Currently it does have some fencing up because of “fragile plants” (which I think is just a front to keep homeless away), which diminishes the beauty a bit. But in spring and summertime, this place is king. 9/10

Function: It’s more of a stroll/jogging park but the annex has stuff to do if you’re into that, but then you’re closer to busy streets and a gas station across the street. Literally function over form, I guess. 7/10

Sketchiness: I personally don’t think Laurelhurst is that sketchy at all, but I’m sure a lot of the NIMBYs who live in their expensive houses would disagree. Yes, homeless people live around the park, but I’ve found the park itself to be relatively sketch-free. YMMV. 3/10

every park in portland

EPIP: Buckman Field Park

NE 12th Avenue and Everett Street
Neighborhood: Kerns

Buckman Field is one of those parks that you’ll miss if you don’t live nearby. For instance: I have walked on NE 12th Ave (the road on the far left of the map) a ridiculous number of times. When I used to work at a medical marijuana clinic, I would have take my check up to the Wells Fargo near Lloyd’s Center. Every time I would pass by two things: the Franz bakery building, which always smelled amazing, and those tennis courts you see in the upper left. I didn’t even realize they were part of a park. (They might not be, either.)

This morning, in searching for parks to walk to, I noticed the track and the soccer fields of Buckman Field and decided to head there. It is what you see: a track, two fields (with the upper one being a soccer and football field), and the upper right part of the field can be a baseball diamond as well. So, it’s far more of an amateur and professional activity park than it is a “take your kids and dog” park. I did see people practicing soccer and there were dogs hanging out on the sidelines though, so who knows.

The lower right section has some playground equipment, though, but it, as you can see, is a small portion. This is also one of those parks that doesn’t have an open entrance; by that I mean, you have to enter through a couple of narrow sidewalks, you can’t just walk straight into the park. Makes it feel more seeecret.

Aesthetic: Not much to look at. It’s fields. 3/10

Function: You can play soccer and then eat donuts at Voodoo! 9/10

Sketchiness: Didn’t seem sketchy at all. The surrounding area is a little sketch, more rundown than illicit activities though. For some reason, Sandy Blvd is just one of those more run down streets overall. 3/10

every park in portland

EPIP: Ladd’s Circle (& Rose Gardens)

This is a continuing quest to visit and rate every park in Portland.

SE 16th Avenue and Harrison Street
Neighborhood: Hosford-Abernethy

In 1891, William Sargent Ladd decided to subdivide his east Portland 126-acre farm into the very unique and confusing diagonal streets we know as Ladd’s Addition. He then died two years later. Ladd’s is arguably the most unique and iconic street layout in Portland, right up there with that Lombard Street in San Francisco, or Bourbon Street in New Orleans. But those are just streets; Ladd’s Addition is a whole street structure. It’s a richer part of Portland, and in the center is Ladd’s Circle, which is just that, a circular park with some benches. There are also four rose gardens in the cardinal directions.

People often gather at Ladd’s Addition to start something else, like runs and stuff. I often run around Ladd’s Addition myself, because it’s level and interesting and a lovely part of town. It’s also fun to get lost in, and it’s one of the few bits in Portland with alleyways! I’d love to live there, if someone would just give me a million dollars to afford a house.

But this is a review of the circle! And the rose gardens, I guess.

Aesthetic: Roses are pretty, can’t lie about that. But the actual gardens aren’t, to me, very aesthetically pleasing. In fact they kind of stick out and are virtually unusable as the roses are packed in each diamond. The circle is more open and is a nice centerpiece to the street structure, but other than that it’s not especially gorgeous. 6/10

Function: The gardens grow roses. The end. The circle has some benches to sit on and contemplate life, but that’s about it. There’s some space to lay down for a picnic if you want. 4/10

Sketchiness: Ladd’s is pretty bougie so there’s not a lot of homeless wandering through. I do see a few pseudo-sketch people lying in the grass in the warmer months. (When I say “pseudo-sketch,” that falls into a territory where I’m unsure if the person is homeless, or just a grungy Portlander.) 8/10

every park in portland

EPIP: Colonel Summers Park

SE 17th Avenue and Taylor Street
Neighborhood: Buckman

Colonel Summers is definitely one of the best parks in Portland. It’s in a great location, it’s got a multitude of things to do (basketball court, meeting space, swings for kids, splash zone, tennis court, baseball diamond though I think people usually play kickball there, and a community garden), and to me it always feels larger than it actually is. That little kitty-corner square of park in the top-right of the map always fascinated me too. When I first moved here I really had no idea where this park was, even though I had passed by it many times–eventually I realized that the brunt of the park was behind the tennis courts.

Pedalpalooza stops here frequently and there’s always something going on at the park in the spring and summer months. Now, it’s cold and most everyone is gone.

Aesthetic: It’s a lovely park, maybe a bit cramped in spots but the community garden adds an interesting twist on what might have been an otherwise normal park. Honestly, my only gripe is that I wish the houses in the NW section weren’t there, so we could have more park. (To be fair though, they’re on an uphill slope; the park is kind of constructed around the hill.) 8/10

Function: This place has lots to do in a smaller space. There’s plenty of activities in the warmer months and with basketball and tennis AND base/kickball, lots of places to do sports. 9/10

Sketchiness: The park itself can vary in sketchiness, but none of it is really drug deals or anything of that nature. It’s more just homeless people sleeping on the grass or in cars around the perimeter. But lots of people sleep on the grass so it’s not a big deal. There’s also a van on the 17th Ave side which has been parked there ever since I moved to this part of town. It has people sleeping in it but they don’t bother anyone. In fact in the summertime they set up a little station where you can wash your hands, which is neat. I’d say low-to-moderate sketchiness. 3/10