By Danielle Horn ::
Heritage Trees number 175 and 176 are large Northern Red Oaks on the edge of the Brooklyn Neighborhood park and playfield, Powell Park, providing welcome shade in the summer and beautiful red leaves in the fall. They were added to the Heritage Tree registry in 1998, and their planting date is unknown though likely sometime in the 1920s. Powell Park itself was established in 1921, on land purchased from the power company. The park originally had a lake in the western half where the basketball and volleyball courts are located today, but the baseball diamond was there from the beginning. Emanuel T. Mische, an early parks superintendent who had previously worked for the Olmsted Brothers, designed the park but was unable to bring it to fruition during his tenure.
Powell Park was created during a period of growth that city planners feared would result in an urban wasteland bereft of green spaces if the city didn’t take action to preserve them for the future to ensure residents had neighborhood access to recreation and green spaces. Their fears were justified as several inner southeast parks never made it beyond the planning stage because the city failed to purchase the land before it was developed. In the Brooklyn neighborhood today, the need for public access to green spaces is just as great as in the 1920s. The area – divided by a train yard – and bordered by the noisy and busy Powell Highway to the north, is home to a large number of industrial businesses. In the midst of these stressful elements, the park, with its beautiful, giant trees, sports facilities, and playground, provides a welcome place for Portland residents of all ages to enjoy the outdoors.