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! We have recently completed Phase I of our Master Plan for restoring Lincoln Park – the fountain has been restored, the walkways have been repaved, and the park now has electricity for the first time in its history. There's still plenty more to do as we move on to Phase II! You can read more about the restoration plans here.