- Portland, OR
- Site Type:
- Parks and Recreation, Paths and Trails, Picnic and Other Facilities
- New Deal Agencies:
- Work Relief Programs, Works Progress Administration (WPA)
In 1935, the City of Portland Bureau of Planning approved the development of a city park to serve the Westmoreland neighborhood, which had rapidly developed during the previous twenty years without the benefit of any park or playground facilities. The City acquired forty-two acres for the park’s development from the Oregon Iron & Steel Co. (a business owned by Ladd Estate Company, the developer of Westmoreland) in January 1936. Since Crystal Springs Creek ran through the flat rather marshy site, water features were incorporated into the park’s design by Francis B. Jacobberger, a principal in the architectural firm Jacobberger & Smith. In his finished plan, the Study Sketch and Preliminary Lay-out for the West Moreland Recreation Park, the approximately eight city block area was to include multiple uses such as baseball and softball diamonds, basketball courts, tennis courts, picnic facilities, a model yacht basin, and a fly-casting pool.
The partnership between the City of Portland and the WPA allowed work on the park to begin that year with an emphasis on manual labor. The first two photographs shown below suggest the effort required to grade and generally improve the site, which had been used previously for farming and as a landing strip. Because the fly-casting pool required hand-excavation of the large square facility, it involved the work of a great number of people and was one of the first features to be completed. Its completion also allowed the City to sponsor a national fly-casting competition in August 1936, which the local newspaper, The Oregonian, praised in terms of the “super-casting” facility that drew the sport’s elite competitors. This activity received further WPA support with the construction of a clubhouse for Westmoreland Park’s fly-casters.
Running out of money, however, the Westmoreland Park project stopped for approximately seventeen months. In July 1939, it reopened with additional federal funds that allowed WPA workers to pave the floor of the casting pond with concrete and finish grading ball fields as well as to construct rustic bridges across Crystal Springs Creek. The City of Portland’s WPA summary of the project indicates that the final phase of the work involved 300 men with a federal contribution of around $225,000.
Nearly eighty years later, the park continues to serve the neighborhood and city with its playground and sports facilities. The Fly-casting Club House serves as a park maintenance facility while the water features have been reconsidered. To encourage trout and salmon spawning in Crystal Springs Creek, the duck and wading pond (that was added to and reshaped the model Yacht Basin in 1952) is being restored to natural conditions. Fall 2014 is the date for completion of the restored wetlands area and new natural play features on the northern end of the park.
Source notesBarker, Neil L. (1996) The Works Progress Administration in Portland, Oregon: An Historical Narrative and Survey Report, 1935-1942. Washington State University: Masters of Arts in History Thesis. p.114 City of Portland Parks & Recreation – https://www.portlandoregon.gov/parks/finder/index.cfm?action=ViewPark&ShowResults=yes&PropertyID=852 Oregon SHPO – Application for National Historic Registration – Westmoreland Park: https://heritagedata.prd.state.or.us/historic/index.cfm?do=v.dsp_siteSummary&resultDisplay=50345 The Oregonian. “Casting Tourney will open today,” Thursday, August 13, 1936. p. 17. The Portland Tribune. “Creek is new focus of Westmoreland Park,” June 6, 2013. WPA Project Correspondence, 1935-1940, Record Group 8402-05, Portland Archives and Record Center, Portland, OR. Proj. Nos. 920-B & 1404.
Site originally submitted by Judith Kenny on June 14, 2012.
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