Stretching across an impressive 16.27 acres, the stunning Peninsula Park came into existence nearly 110 years ago and has since been a sought-after attraction for locals and visitors alike. One of TripAdvisor’s Top 30 locations to Visit in Portland, it is home to an outstanding community center and Portland’s first public rose garden.
History of the park
A joint effort by designer and horticulturalist Emanuel Mische and architects John Charles Olmsted, Ellis Lawrence and Ormond R. Bean, the rose garden was designed and constructed in an attempt to transform the site’s former roadhouse and ad-hoc horse racetrack into a 16-acre park, deriving influence from Italian architecture. Intended as a multi-use space, this park includes accessible picnic areas, basketball and tennis courts, an iconic fountain, horseshoe pit, soccer and softball field, plaza, splash pad, and statue art, and can be reserved for weddings and other special events.
Rose garden beginnings
French culture was infused into Portland with the introduction of the hybrid tea rose known as Madame Caroline Testout, a large pink variety of roses originating in France. Eventually, thousands of rose bushes were planted, priming Portland to be dubbed the City of Roses as early as 1888. Mische spearheaded the rose garden in Peninsula Park, generating visions for a two acre sunken rose garden and plenty of Testouts, which eventually became the official rose of Portland in the early 1900s.
Features to be proud of
The garden proudly boasts 5,700 roses of 75 varieties and features a strolling garden and iconic old fountain, all of which were constructed in 1913 and remain today. In the years following its opening, the rose garden attracted 300,000 visitors annually, more than the population of Portland at the time. For four years, the park served as the location for the annual rose show, until being changed to the International Rose Test Garden in Washington Park in 1917. The roses are typically in full bloom from May to September, so if you’re in the area and looking to enjoy a magnificent display of roses during late spring and early summer, look no further than Peninsula Park.
Activities in the park and reasons to visit
Beyond the natural beauty the park possesses, you’ll find activities for all ages at the park. The park holds free concerts every summer, and hosts adult and child dance classes, music classes, gymnastics, basketball and baseball camps, youth camps, yoga, and more year-round. Rest assured, the Park is always being cared for with the generous support of volunteers and local donors. In 2013, 3,000 new roses were planted in the rose garden in an effort to resist disease, while also staying true to Mische’s original vision. The community center at Peninsula Park celebrated their centennial in 2013, and continues to thrive with the bustle of community members and curious visitors.
Where to find more information
For more information on North Portland’s Peninsula Park or any other park in Portland, email firstname.lastname@example.org, call 503.275.8355, or pay a visit to the Information Center at Pioneer Courthouse Square off Sixth Avenue in downtown Portland.