03 June 2014

[pdx] The Square, and The Courthouse That Gives It Its Name

If you were here 32 years ago, you could have parked here.

Prior to 2014, the downtown Portland block bounded by SW 6th Avenue, Yamhill and Morrison Streets, and SW Broadway was more than a parking lot, it was a parking garage. Doubtless there are a few now that would it back that way, but, fortunately, those few know better and keep their mouths shut about it.

Portland's Living Room, they call it. It's a good nickname for what has become, in the incorrect nomenclature of the peoples, Pioneer Square. 

It's Pioneer Courthouse Square. And born of unsure beginnings in the early 80s, it was the beginning of Portland as a modern-day version of that Livable City on the Hill, shining as an example to all. It has become world-famous, and has become an icon, a signature, and a Portland trademark.

On the day of the KGW Studio on the Square tour (#kgwnow) It was hosting blooms … lots of them. An 'interactive maze', they called it, though I know of no maze that isn't. It had a pattern inside the pattern, if you knew how to look; the number 30 in purple outlined in white. 30 years of the Square.

It's gone through changes, though not too many. Powell's Travel Store has become KGW's satellite news studio (such is progress). The Crepe Faire bistro on the Morrison/Broadway corner has become a Starbucks (such is life). But the water, the fountain surrounding the Vistiors Center/Tri Met office, the curving stairs, the columns … they're all still there.

The 30 is there for the finding.
The Pioneer Courthouse holds vigil over the proceedings on the 6th Avenue side, and now that MAX is finally on the Mall, it has a modern touch in front of it every few minutes.

One of my favorite touches is on the floor of the crow's nest balcony over the walkway into the TriMet office. Inlaid in tile mosaic is a most small and darling schematic diagram of the Square.

You aren't here.
 The Starbucks bistro pavilion is a pergola-like affair. Makes for great and adventurous framing.

… and the whole texture lends itself to asbtract geometric expressionism.

Not the Stariway to Heavn … unless you think Heaven is Southwest Broadway.
The buildings muscle up on every side, creating a feeling of being in a clearing. Since the original name of our town was, in fact, "The Clearing", it makes sense. And it gives the square block a certain urban friendliness and coziness.

The Square is home to one of the iconic statues in Portland … a life-size statue of a man holding an umbrella, offering assistance. It's called Allow Me. 

He's as Portland as it gets, but I think he's an immigrant, for two reason. Number: the umbrella. We accept, here in Oregon, that they exist, but we have no truck with them. The other?

He's way too thrilled at the sunny skies.

At the leaving this day, we see the A-frame sign … which some wag has slapped the Doug thereon. Advance Cascadia Fair, oh yea.

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