Pioneer Courthouse Square

Designers: Will Martin | City: Portland, OR | Project Type: public square
Date Visited: 12.13.12

Locations: SW Broadway & Yamhill St
Size: 1.55-acres
Completion Date: April 6, 1984


Located in the heart of downtown, Pioneer Courthouse Square has affectionately been dubbed as “Portland’s living room.” Host to frequent events, the square has enjoyed a long history as a place for Portland locals to gather and celebrate. The square’s modern design includes public art, granite fountain, amphitheater stairs that double as ample seating, food vendors and a coffee shop, a visitor’s information center. The square also functions as a major transit hub.

Located across from its namesake, the historic Pioneer Courthouse, Pioneer Courthouse Square marks downtown Portland’s cultural and geographic center. Though the Waterfall Fountain overtop the information center had been turned off for the season, there was a giant Christmas tree installed near the center of the square. In classic Portland fashion, there was information on the side of the tree explicating the local origins and history of the tree:

“The 2012 Tree for Portland, a 75-foot tall Douglas-fir, is a gift from Stimson Lumber Company for all to enjoy this season. The tree was grown on Stimson forestlands near Gaston, Oregon, which are managed by professional foresters for the sustainable growth and production of timber.”

After buying Indian food from a nearby food truck, I made my way to take a seat at a tabletop above the curved amphitheater-like seating. Despite the rain, a large gathering had formed in the middle of the square–middle schoolers were putting on a Christmas-themed xylophone show.

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