Chapman and Lownsdale Squares

Chapman Square, acquired in 1869, is one of two, courthouse squares, Chapman and Lownsdale, in The Plaza Blocks.  Located inside the blocks of third and fourth avenues, and Salmon and Madison streets, at SW 4th Avenue and Main Street, was named after former Iowa territorial legislator and native Virginian, William Chapman.  William Chapman arrived in Portland in 1850 at the age of 42.  Chapman was an attorney with business interests.  He also served as surveyor general of Oregon.  In 1870 he sold a portion of his land claim to Portland.

The north square, Lownsdale Square, was named after a Kentuckian, Daniel H. Lownsdale.  Lownsdale settled in Portland in 1845.  At the time there were fewer than 800 people living in the city.

The Plaza Blocks are very distinguishable by their large beautiful trees, Gingko and Elms.  Chapman Square was designed originally for the use of children and women.  All the Gingko trees are female.  Imagine that!  Lownsdale Square was designed to be the gentlemen’s gathering place.

In Chapman Square there is a beautiful bronze statue.  The statue commemorates the 150th anniversary of the Oregon Trail.  The statue, called The Promised Land, was designed by an Oregon artist, David Manuel, in 1993.  The statue represents a pioneer family, a father, mother, and son, at the end of their long journey.  The statue sits upon a red granite slab and is inscribed with a quote by Thomas Jefferson.  The area in front of the statue has been sandblasted to show footprints of jackrabbits, black bear, porcupine, coyote, grouse, elk, and prints of moccasins.

The squares have amenities such as disabled access restroom, a historical site, paved paths, and art. Another thing to note about the restrooms is that there are no doors on the stalls in either the men’s or women’s. So be prepared.

In Lownsdale square is a monument to soldiers who gave their lives. It was designed by Douglas Tilden. This monument, dedicated in 1906 celebrates Oregonians killed in the Spanish-American On the top is a bronze infantryman of the Second Oregon U.S. Volunteer Infantry. Also in this block is another war memorial, dedicated to the losses from in the Philippines. A competition was held for its design and John H. Beaver won the honor. It is a drinking fountain installed in 1914.

Today The Plaza Blocks are a busy gathering place for picnics, people watching, and relaxing. It was also the encampment for Occupy Portland that started on October 6th 2011 and was one of the larger protests in the country. After an eviction order for November 13th was given by Mayor Sam Adams, a standoff between protestors and police continued after thousands of supports joined in peaceful solidarity overnight. During the day, police moved in and cleared the encampment in a relatively violence free manner.

In the middle of the two squares is Thompson’s Elk statue and fountain.

To learn more about Portland’s many wonderful fountains, click here

Brought to you by Brian and Glenda

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