Portland Fountain Tour: Tanner Springs

Tanner Springs is within what is known as the Pearl District of Portland.  Tanner was once a wetland and lake and was fed by streams that flowed down from the nearby hills in southwest Portland.  The wooded hillsides provided a natural filter for the streams by cleansing the water as it worked its way to the Willamette River. Its name comes from Tanner Creek after Daniel Lownsdale built a tannery here in 1845.

The springs flowed into the shallow basin of Couch Lake, which is now the area surrounding Tanner Springs Park.  In the late 19th century, Portland grew in population.  Tanner Creek was rerouted through an underground system of pipes to the Willamette River.  Eventually, the lake and the surrounding wetland was filled to make way for warehouses and rail yards, which in turn were replaced by shops, public spaces, and residences.  The Park today sits about 20 feet above the former lake surface,

Early in the 1990s, at the beginning of the planning efforts for the Pearl District, it was an important goal to create a network of open spaces for both city and neighborhood.  A conceptual plan, in 1998, for the new parks and open spaces was proposed by the Tanner Creek and Water Feature Steering Committee.  It was approved by the City Council.

The working name given during planning was North Park Square.  In early 2003, Atelier Dreiseitl, a renowned German design firm, and GreenWorks, P.C., an award-winning local landscape architecture firm, were selected to design the park.  Workshops were held allowing the citizens to participate in the design process.  At the community meetings, the public was asked to submit their suggestions for a permanent name for the park.  After a review by the committee, the name Tanner Springs was adopted in April 2005.  The springs connect the park to Tanner Creek.  The design of the park was kept in a past era with its native wetlands and flowing runnels. Tanner Springs is a beautiful place to visit, take photos, and relax.  You’re in the heart of the city, yet feel a million miles away!  The art alone is amazing!  Especially the railroad track wall, which of course, is made out of railroad tracks!  An amazing site to behold!  These tracts which are set on end make a wall 180 feet long and hold 368 rails!  99 pieces of fused glass are inset and have images of spiders, amphibians, insects, dragonflies, and other like animals, all captured in amber, representing creatures of habitats long gone.  These images were hand-painted by Herbert Dreiseitl directly onto Portland glass, then fused and melted which resulted in a beautiful final effect!

This particular park is maintained by volunteers.  The organization is Friends of Tanner Springs.

Words by Brian and Glenda photos by Brian

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