Peninsula Park is a 16.27-acre public park in the Piedmont neighborhood of Portland. It contains an outdoor swimming pool, playgrounds, a community center, tennis courts, basketball courts, a historic gazebo, covered picnic areas, and a unique horticultural gem, the beautiful formal rose gardens. As Peninsula Park lies along Rosa Parks Way, area residents proposed a piece of public art honoring Rosa Parks be added to the park in 2007.
Peninsula Park Rose Garden
The rose garden was designed in 1912 by Emanuel Mische as a formal French garden. It is Oregan’s only sunken garden and was the showpiece of its time with more than 300,000 people visiting it in the first year. The official rose of Portland, named Madame Caroline Testout, was cultivated here and earned Portland its name of ‘City of Roses’ as thousands of Portland Roses were planted along the streets of the City. In 1913 Peninsula Park was selected as the location for an Annual Rose Show. This tranquil treasure was Portland’s first formal public rose garden and the site many festival activities.
Some of the original design elements that remain from the past include street lamps, the music pavilion, wide brick walkways, and an iconic ornamental fountain. More than a century old, the octagonal bandstand which now hosts for many concerts and summer weddings was once used for patriotic demonstrations during World War I. This superb gazebo-like historical structure, the last of its kind in Portland, was declared National Heritage and in 1973 was designated a Historic Landmark. Founded in 2012 the Friends of Peninsula Park Rose Garden was founded to enhance, preserve, and protect this heritage resource for all future generations. The organization consists of a group of friends who regularly volunteer their energy and time to maintain, and enhance the beauty of the Peninsula Park Rose Garden.
Things to do in Peninsula Park
The park is open from 5 am to midnight which gives plenty of time to explore this historic site.
There is a lovely sheltered picnic area with an accessible restroom that is perfect for a family outing. The children can play to their heart’s content in the safe playground area, and for adults, there is a horseshoe pit for fun or serious competition. There is so much to do for everyone including a soccer field and a softball field for the energetic. The picnic area with picnic tables, the tennis court, the sports field, or a wedding site can be reserved. There is a splash pad that is turned on the last Friday before Memorial Day and remains open until the end of September.
The park was originally owned by a local businesswoman named Liverpool Liz and used as a quarter-mile horse racing track and roadhouse. In 1909 it was purchase by the City of Portland for a sum of $60,000 and the parcel of land included campground and an auto-park.
Designed by renowned architects Ormond R. Bean and Ellis Lawrence of Oregon, it was originally part of Portland’s ‘Beautiful City’ campaign in 1912 and was completed in 1913. In 1979 a bronze sculpture by the artist Jerry Allen was installed on the west side of the park.
Peninsula Rose Garden offers an intimate and beautiful locale to host a wedding day. The gardens are the perfect backdrop for breathtaking photos, and at the right time of the year, the fragrance is amazing.
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