Downtown Portland From Another Angle
Saturday 6 June 2015 — Category: Outings
Japanese Garden (my third monthly visit) and, only a stone’s throw away, the International Rose Test Garden — both located in Washington Park.
After spending an hour taking photos at each garden, I rode the MAX Light Rail a few miles to downtown Portland. My next objective was the Portland State University (PSU) campus, which occupies the entire southern section of downtown. The story and photos from that portion of my outing will be posted on this Web site in the near future.
Once you are north of SW Columbia St, you are out of the official PSU campus area. On my previous photo outing in April I had focused primarily on the northern part of downtown, as far south as Pioneer Courthouse Square. This time I had the opportunity to explore the seven blocks between Columbia and Morrison streets.
Of course, seeing that I basically stuck to a single street while traversing between the two, there is much that I didn’t see. Nevertheless, the handful of South Park Blocks I meandered through are rich in both trees and human culture.
The first thing I noticed were two large canvas murals, and two strange statues of nudes, in front of the Portland Art Museum. Across the street was an eight-story mural on the west side of the Oregon Historical Society Museum.
Along this short stretch I encountered no less than five statues. Including the two I already mentioned, there were also the bronze sculptures of Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, and the iconic ‘Umbrella Man’.
I also encountered a different type of culture in the South Park Blocks. For decades, this area has been haunted by the homeless. During my walk I discovered this for myself. It made me very uncomfortable, for a couple of reasons.
First, a significant percentage of homeless people (but definitely not all of them) have serious substance abuse and mental problems, which can lead to unpredictable and sometimes-aggressive behavior. I felt unsafe with so many street people hanging around. Second, I felt guilty because I was focused on my photography instead of the needy human beings in front of me.
Because I don’t enjoy feeling unsafe nor guilty, it makes me want to avoid encounters with street people. But given Portland’s huge homeless crisis, avoidance seems impractical as well as impossible. So I’ll just have to suppress my fear and guilt. I’ll save an analysis of my concern for the needy (or lack thereof) for a future article on my Brian’s Bits Web site.
On a more-cheerful note, as I was approaching Pioneer Courthouse Square, I came across some children having fun in the fountain at Director Park. Ah, the paradox of human innocence and depravity existing side by side.
During my half-hour, 7-block jaunt up Park Ave, I took 38 pictures. The most worthy 19 have been added to the Portland Downtown Spring 2015 album.
The five photos which were processed as monochrome can also be seen, along with the rest of their companion images, in the Portland in Black and White 2015 album.