It all started with a vision

In 1966, the City of Portland launched its first urban renewal area, a bold project designed to transform and reinvigorate 55 blocks in the south part of downtown. As part of this project, area leaders were looking for ways to bring nature back to the heart of the city. Nothing fussy or formal, nothing manicured and symmetrical. Those parks were yesterday’s look and the landscape of the 1960s was different. That’s when the Portland Development Commission brought in renowned landscape architect Lawrence Halprin.

Form meets function — and style

Halprin had a vision — a four-block series of inner-connected walkways, fountains and plazas designed to bring open space and natural beauty to the south end of downtown. Known as the Portland Open Space Sequence, the Source Fountain, Lovejoy Fountain, Pettygrove Park and Ira Keller Fountain flow together to create a true urban oasis in what is now called the Fountain District.

These mid-century parks stand as the most internationally celebrated and influential works of landscape architecture Portland has ever produced — so much so that in 2013, the Sequence joined the National Register of Historic Places.

Volunteer stewards preserve the vision

The Halprin Landscape Conservancy is a volunteer nonprofit organization dedicated to preserve, maintain and activate the Portland Open Space Sequence. Our goal is to retain the Sequence as an important and meaningful place where residents, businesses, students and visitors can gather to engage, relax and recreate. We see it as an opportunity to unite the diverse, vibrant community in the Fountain District.

The Sequence is among the city’s most nationally and internationally influential urban places — and one of Portland’s most beloved treasures. Up until recently, it was also in dire need of restoration as years of heavy usage combined with City of Portland budget cuts were not kind. Fountains were turned off because of underground leaks. Lighting went dark. Custom-made mid-century modern planters were cracked and broken.

Thanks to the dedicated efforts of the Halprin Landscape Conservancy along with local residents, and business and civic leaders, the pendulum is swinging back. A multi-phase restoration project was completed in 2018-19 to restore the fountains and plazas, as well as manage the vegetation, trees and walkways. The parks are activated with regular events and activities to engage those in the area and in the community as a whole.