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Bob R.

Square management has made up for the fact that the square isn't a walled city by incrementally imposing more and more regulations which squeeze out what have historically been legitimate public uses.

For example, without obtaining an event permit in advance (which requires insurance and a liability waiver), you CANNOT:

1. Use a tripod or monopod for your camera.
2. Have a protest sign where any part touches the ground. (The elderly and disabled have to hold their signs aloft or face exclusion.)
3. Hold a candlelight vigil - no open flames, not even candles.
4. Plug in a cell phone to recharge at an unmarked outdoor outlet, or be cited for "theft of city services", even though people routinely are encouraged charge phones and laptops in other city buildings, at the airport, etc.

I've personally been threatened with being cited for using a monopod, and recently I was at a marriage equality candlelight vigil where attendees were ordered to put out their candles until a reporter started asking questions of security, such as "what is your name?"

A little birdie tells me that KGW's contract with the square for their new studio gives them permission to bar other media entirely from areas of the square -- but I haven't seen the fine print.

It's these kinds of management overreactions which lead some to have very mixed feelings about what should rightfully be Portland's living room.

Brian Libby

Great points, Bob. I also was surprised to have security hassling me when I tried to shoot some Super 8 film footage using a tripod. My intent here was to focus on the design, but it's true that you can't separate Pioneer Courthouse Square from its uses and a conversation about what those should be. Your comment also reminds me that I forgot to bring up that ridiculous skating rink idea they had for the square a couple years ago.

Bob R.

Thanks for the reply, Brian... in retrospect I realize I was diverting this off-topic a bit... I really always have enjoyed the architecture of the square, and I'm old enough to remember the first brick sales, the big open lot, etc... It's also a great place to bring visitors to introduce them to the "feel" of Portland.

If anyone is curious about the monopod diversion, I did a YouTube video and there was a write-up of it on the Mercury blog last year:


Jim Heuer

Good post, Brian, on a wonderful part of Portland's cityscape. But just a reminder that PCS was the original site of the famed Portland Hotel, once included in lists of "The 100 Greatest Hotels in the World". The hotel was the brainchild of Henry Villard, whose newly completed Northern Pacific Railroad needed a great hotel at its western terminus. When the NP went broke a year after its arrival in Portland, work on the hotel stopped.

The revival of construction by city interests persuaded easterners William Whidden and Ion Lewis to come to town as the architects, taking over from McKim, Mead, and White, who had produced the original designs.

Alas, in the 1950's the land was worth more to Meier and Frank as a parking lot than it was as the site of a hotel, and the grand building was demolished. The iron work gate on the east side of the square is the only reminder of the grand hotel which once stood on the site.


Wonderful post Brian, perhaps it can spark a little clean up of the people's square.

I've noticed that food carts are increasingly dominating the space, unfortunately in the one area that people used to be able to sit or stand under and enjoy the outdoors in the rain.

Now food carts are blocking the view of the square - and have been slowly creeping under the glass awnings in order to be out of the rain themselves - leaving the public out in the cold.


The Fox Tower’s shadow cast across the square is a very disappointing recent change.

Austin TX Landscaping

That building is truly beautiful. I wish there was a building half as good looking as that in my city.


Article said "Do we really need Scientologists in their yellow circus tents trying to convert people?"

Why is scientology, with hundreds of front groups, allowed to put up tents to fool and trap people? Nobody ever passes their little stress tests. Fake religion pretending they are mental health workers.

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