Esther Short Park

6th and Columbia
Vancouver, WA

Submitted by: Ginger Metcalf

A City park with a community square.

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Why It Works

Four square blocks in the center of downtown Vancouver USA, bequeathed by pioneer Esther Short to the City of Vancouver in 1862 (upon her death). The "park" fell in and out of disrepair until the late 1990's when the City reclaimed it (from predominantly transient users) for its citizens. Public and private funds have created a "heart" for our City which includes a water feature, childrenís playground, rose garden, bell tower, pavilion, thousands of flowers; the focal point of downtown Vancouver USA.

What Makes Esther Short Park a Great Place?

Downtown residential and commercial construction, a farmers' market and hotel/convention center were planned around the park - with the park being the focal point. Public parking abounds, community events hosting thousands of residents and visitors alike take place within the park, users can walk, skip, bike, drive or ride public transportation to the park.

There are no vehicles within the park, only citizens and an occasional pet dog (on leash) enjoying every aspect of the park. Whether your choice of "seating" is the green green grass or park bench, both are in abundance. The City maintains the park and square so that it is always in pristine condition. While the presence of "security" is sporadic, it is an inviting place where everyone wants to gather or just stroll through. Having "lifted" the tree branches (from dragging on the ground) and removed shrubs (convenient for providing shelter to transients) has transformed a formerly intimidating and scary atmosphere into space that says, "Come in and enjoy."

There is something for everyone - from the childrenís playground to sculpture, from roses to sniff to Indian folklore of the Chinook salmon to listen to as it spills out of the glockenspiel in the bell tower. Concerts in the park predominate in the summer months - during the lunch hour for downtown workers and evening concerts for families to enjoy.

Social tenor is one of conviviality. It's nearly impossible to be grumpy in this park. There is too much to make one feel good.

General mixed use. Pride!?!?!? Locals beam when referring to Esther Short Park. More locals than visitors/tourists use the park, but that will change as others learn about the area.

History & Background

The information provided above is pretty brief. There is SO much that went into this park to make it what it is today. If you need a more complete story, I would be happy to provide one. AND, I would be completely surprised if a nomination has not taken place previous to this one.

Contact Info:

parksrec@ci.vancouver.wa.us
Southwest Washington Visitorís Bureau: 360-750-1553
Slocum House, 605 Esther Street, Vancouver

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