In the Wilshire-Beaumont neighborhood of northeast Portland stands 15 acres of Douglas fir trees shading a soft, wood-chip trail. Any given afternoon you’ll find runners and walkers of all paces using the trail.
Wilshire Park at NE 33rd Avenue and Skidmore Street has an off-leash dog area and also plenty of picnic tables, a playground, and two baseball diamonds. But the path is the real reason you want to visit.
The wood-chip loop, measuring .6 miles (just shy of 1,000 meters) is great for easy morning runs and bringing along the kids and dog. It’s also great for throwing down some 1,000m intervals, if you’re feeling ambitious. Even at speed, the slight grade on the path is hardly noticeable. The soft surface is easy on the joints, as well.
For all its current popularity —don’t read this as crowded—how many know that Wilshire is the park that almost never was?
It was a winding road for this plot of land between 1920 and 1940, when the city at last took ownership from the estate of Jacob Kamm. Up to that point, vocal neighbors fended off multiple development proposals, including one for an automobile campground.
When the city didn’t heed their calls for a park, neighbors attempted to raise funds and build it themselves, negotiating directly with the Kamm family. Finally, in April of 1940, the city jumped in.
Portland purchased the land that would be Wilshire Park for $28,500 on emergency ordinance and would pay for the construction of the park on a two-year loan.