Pioneer Courthouse Square
Pioneer Courthouse Square is the heart of downtown Portland, and known as Portland’s living room. It is one of the places I visited in Portland back in June.
You may know that Portland is quite well regarded stateside for progressive urban planning and transportation planning, and that reputation was in large part earned in the 1970s and 1980s. The creation of the current square, which opened in 1984, was integrated with the long-term investment in creating the Portland Transit Mall along 5th and 6th Avenues (originally a one-way pair of mostly bus-only streets which opened in 1977) and the initial construction of the MAX light rail system (the first part of which passed by here and opened in 1986).
Of course, part of what makes the square central in the city (and interesting to me!) is the fact that both MAX downtown light rail lines pass by. Actually, three of the square’s four sides have trains running along them, and the location at the intersection in between the 1986 east-west MAX alignment (on Morrison and Yamhill Streets) and adjacent to the northbound transit mall (now serving buses as well as the MAX Yellow and Green lines) ensures that it is the city center’s transportation hub.
The Pioneer Courthouse, seen above, is one of the oldest buildings in Portland (at 1869, not too bad for the west coast!) – the Italianate building is apparently the second-oldest federal building west of the Mississippi, and has survived numerous efforts to tear it down (often, for parking) to become a National Historic Landmark.
Overall, Portland has been able to create a nice space here, maintaining a reasonable scale in keeping with the courthouse while still offering a modern setting. Of course, in a city with lots of rain, the outdoor living room is perhaps quite often empty!
Posted on 13/08/2011, in travel, Travel to the States and tagged Downtown Portland, Fox Tower, Pioneer Courthouse, Pioneer Courthouse Square, Portland Transit Mall. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.