By Annie Amsden ::
The Horse Chestnut tree on the corner of North Alta and Willamette Boulevard stands 65 feet tall and casts shadows onto the sidewalk below it. The tree, approximately 150 years old, witnessed the expansion of North Portland. Prior to European settlement in the area, Indigenous people lived in what is now Portland. After the forced resettlement of the Native Americans, Portland grew in population and influence.
In the early 1900s, Portlanders demanded a bridge to service half of the city’s population who lived above the Broadway Bridge. In 1931, the St. John’s Bridge was finished and opened to the public. The bridge remains one of Portland’s treasures. The community recognized the beauty of the arches below the bridge and quickly utilized this area as a place to swim and relax.
In 1980, this space was dedicated as a park. It was named Cathedral Park after the bridge’s appearance. Tree #322, a Horse Chestnut tree in North Portland, witnessed the expansion of North Portland, as well as community activism in creating public works projects.