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Environment | local

Portland's Waterfront Park Designated A 'Great Public Space'

The American Planning Association has designated Portland’s Waterfront Park as one of America’s 10 Great Public Spaces for 2012. 

Waterfront Park from the top of the Rose Festival Fun Center Ferris Wheel

Waterfront Park from the top of the Rose Festival Fun Center Ferris Wheel

Michael Clapp/OPB

Officially known as Governor Tom McCall Waterfront Park the space occupies 30 acres along the west bank of the Willamette River.

The park was dedicated in 1978.  But before that, motorists might remember it as Harbor Drive.

Mark Ross is with Portland Parks and Recreation.  He says the park embodies Portland’s conservation ethos.

“You know, replacing a freeway in the heart of town with a park is not something you see all across the country, or the world.  And I think it’s a testament to Portland’s frame of mind that we did that; we’re proud of it; and now we’ve got a great place to show for it.”

Waterfront Park is is also a key component of the 40-Mile Loop.  That’s a plan to connect more than thirty parks around the city through a series of interconnected greenways.

Nine other public spaces were recognized by the American Planning Association this year.  That list includes the Chicago Botanic Garden, New Orleans’ Jackson Square and Cesar Chavez Park and Plaza in Sacramento.