Portland Leaders Invest $4.5M in Demolishing O’Bryant Square Park

The people in charge of Portland decided to spend $4.5 million to tear down the square that was built on the site of the city’s first park on Wednesday, 12 April 2023.

Old city plans call O’Bryant Square, which is at the corner of Southwest Park Avenue and what is now called Southwest Harvey Milk Street, Park Block Number One.

In the 1970s, it was given to the city, but only if a parking lot was built underneath.

Even though it was made of bricks and concrete, O’Bryant Square opened to a lot of attention in 1973. People were pleased it could be used asย a park and a place to park cars.

But as time went on, the garage began to leak, an old wall started to fall apart, and the fountain in the middle of the square broke.

Portland Leaders Invest $4.5M in Demolishing O'Bryant Square Park

To make matters worse, the shape of the park gave people a lot of places to hide while using illegal drugs or doing other illegal things. This is why some people made fun of it by calling it “Needle Park” and “Paranoid Park.”

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Mayor Ted Wheeler said on Wednesday, “O’Bryant Square has gotten so bad that it poses a threat to public health, welfare, and safety.”

Since 2018, O’Bryant Square has been shut down and fenced off.

Wednesday, the people in charge of the city agreed to hire Northwest Infrastructure LLC to do the job. Crews will break up the old concrete and take it away. They will then fill in the hole to grade level. The grass will be grown, and it is likely that a ring of old trees will stay around the land.

The Portland Parks Foundation devised a plan to change O’Bryant Square in February. The plan is called “Back to Square One: Rethinking O’Bryant Square.” The foundation will run it with help from the Center for Public Interest Design at Portland State University, the Loeb Fellows at Harvard University, and the Portland Parks and Recreation Department.

Randy Gragg, the executive director of the Portland Parks Foundation and a former Loeb Fellowship, said, “In the past, we’ve always designed our urban plazas first and then brought the activities to them.” “This time, we have the time and chance to learn from other cities, try things out, and let what works determine the design.”

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