Lincoln Park is Portland's first publicly-owned green space: the city bought the burnt-out 2½-acre parcel of land the park sits on after the Great Fire of 1866 leveled much of the area. Originally intended merely to serve as a firebreak, Lincoln Park soon became a cultural hub of the city. Citizens and visitors both enjoyed the park's refreshing fountain and shady elm trees, which provided solace and relaxation in the center of the city. Postcards of Lincoln Park were common souvenirs of visitors to Portland. For decades, a farmers' market was held in the park every Saturday morning from early spring to late fall as children splashed in the fountain.
By the 1960s, disease had destroyed Portland's iconic elm trees, and Lincoln Park's towering shade trees were not spared. In 1970, a quarter of the park was torn up to make way for the widening of Franklin Arterial. Pedestrians coming from Portland's India Street and Munjoy Hill neighborhoods were thus cut off from the rest of the city – and from the park.
The years passed, and the park languished – its pavement crumbling and unsafe, its Parisian fountain broken, its wrought-iron fences rusted, bent, and broken. Despite being next door to both City Hall and the Cumberland County Courthouse, the park decayed into a place people walked quickly past, or ignored altogether.
But, things are looking up! On April 13, 2017, a groundbreaking ceremony took place to commemorate the culmination of three years’ work by the Friends of Lincoln Park and the City of Portland: work officially began in May to totally restore this historic landmark back to its original design and purpose! You can see CTV's video of the groundbreaking ceremony at YouTube, and read more about the restoration plans here.