Portland parks series: Tanner Springs

Portland parks series: Tanner Springs

PORTLAND, Ore. - Sometimes when you live in the city it's nice to slow down the pace, remove yourself from the hustle and bustle and take a moment to find a bit of tranquility.

Whatever you call it - finding zen, achieving inner peace or just simply taking advantage of a quiet space to think - that's what this week's featured park is all about.

Every Friday we're putting the spotlight on a local park and this week we headed to Tanner Springs Park at Northwest 10th Avenue & Marshall Street in the Pearl District.

The park, which sits on a .92-acre city block, is fairly new (it opened in 2005) and features paved paths with benches, public art and the soothing sound of running water.

Tanner Springs isn't the kind of park you play in, shoot hoops at or play catch with the dog in (dogs are actually not allowed in the park). Instead, what this park offers is a space for quiet contemplation and a brief respite from the cityscape that surrounds it. 

The park was designed to represent the natural history of the Pearl District, which actually used to be a wetland fed by streams. The area has a long and interesting history - here are a few links if you'd like to learn more:

The first thing you notice when you stop at Tanner Springs Park is the giant, curving structure that runs along one side.

The structure is made of 99 railroad tracks that date back to the late 19th century (they came from Portland rail yards).

Also, step up close and you'll notice some of them have blue glass with etchings that represent what you see at the park.

Another feature of the park is that it is completely sustainable - rainwater doesn't leave the park and it's all filtered using an underground system.

"Unlike any other city block in the city, we intentionally designed this space to capture the rainwater and keep it within rather than shoot it off to the street," said Bryan Aptekar, West Service Zone Coordinator for Portland Parks & Recreation.

There is also a sculpture at the park called 'Rainwater Pavilion' (pictured above) that channels rainwater into the pond (as well as giving folks shelter from the rain).

The following image showing how the rainwater system works is courtesy of Portland Parks & Recreation. It's part of what you can read on the informational sign at the park.

One problem Aptekar said they have run into is that the pond was never meant to have fish and even though people are asked not to put any in there, somehow goldfish ended up in the water. He said there are now hundreds of them in the pond and they've even started drawing the attention of some birds.

"I've seen ospreys come in and take some and I've seen blue herons there as well," he said.

Aptekar said while Portland Parks & Recreation is not happy that someone put goldfish in the pond, they don't plan on removing them.

We also talked to Aptekar about the little bit of algae that's in the pond. He said it is not posing a problem and added that the water has been tested and it came out fine.

While Tanner Springs Park is perfect for those looking for peace, those who live nearby also like the fact that there is another park in the neighborhood - Jamison Square - that is kid-friendly and bustling with activity, especially in the summer months.

We stopped and talked to one neighborhood resident who said she liked being able to choose between the two parks, depending on her mood. She said neighbors are also excited about a new park that's slated to open nearby - The Fields. That park will have a dog area in it for those with pets. Between all three parks, there will be something for everyone.

We talked to Aptekar briefly about The Fields. He said the project has taken time to get off the ground but they're hoping to begin construction next year.

"It's been a little slower than we'd like, but we're excited," he said, adding that he knows that residents are waiting anxiously as well for the new park to open.