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Healthy Parks, Healthy Portland

Phone: 503-823-PLAY (7529)

Fax: 503-823-6007

1120 SW Fifth Ave., Suite 1302, Portland, OR 97204

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Portland Heritage Trees - Our Shared History

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Heritage Tree #54 European Copper Beech: A Fine Architectural Investment

By David-Paul B. Hedberg
Portland State University Graduate Editorial Fellow
Pacific Historical Review

Hertiage Beach #54

This impressive European copper beech (Fagus sylvatica f. purpurea) now stands as the centerpiece to the Portland State University Library.  The tree itself is much older than the building around it, dating back to the 1890s when the Watson family made an investment by planting it in front of their house. 

Joseph Franklin Watson came to Portland in 1871 and became a partner in Smith & Watson Iron Works, which produced many of the city’s cast iron storefronts and fire hydrants that are still in use today. PSU acquired the Watson home in 1965, and by 1968, had demolished the house to build the campus library. For unknown reason the beach tree was saved and the tree and grassy area in front of the library became feature of student life.

By the 1970s, the growth of PSU signaled a need for a larger library. The expansion of the library incorporated the tree its design.  Architects made a choice to build around it, further highlighting trees as architectural features.

While a lot has changed over 120 years, the Watson’s beech tree has remained a prominent feature of the park blocks. Today the tree is the library’s defining feature and it is our only existing link back to the first period of development on this block. Like many trees, it’s a fine architectural investment that took generations to mature. In 1995, it became a Portland Heritage Tree, ensuring that this investment will benefit generations to come. 

Above left: PSU Copper Beach tree in 1975. Image from: Campus pictures; crowd on lawn in front of Library, copper beech tree, 6/75, University Archives, Portland State University Library.  Above right: 1890s Copper Beach Tree as it looks today. Author’s Personal Photo, Aug. 2014.

David-Paul B. Hedberg will be speaking about Heritage Trees' link to Portland's past on Wednesday, October 1 from 12-12:30 pm in Room C of the Portland Building (1120 SW 5th Avenue, second floor)

Heritage Tree Talk Oct. 1

Come see how Portland's urban forest is rooted in our city's history

PP&R Urban Forestry & Portland State University Present:

From Stumptown to Tree Town: Interpreting Portland's History Through Its Heritage Trees
A Lunch-and-Learn Event

Wednesday, October 1
The Portland Building
1120 SW 5th Ave.
2nd Floor, Room C

Heritage Tree Talk Oct. 1

Invasive Tree Alert--You Can Help!

By Lee Greer, Tree Steward, Sunnyside Street Tree Team

Do you recognize this plant? It’s a young tree-of-heaven (Ailanthus altissima), a nuisance tree that can crowd out native plants and others we want in our gardens. It can also damage sidewalks, streets, foundations and sewers. It’s especially problematic because when you cut it down, it aggressively tries to reestablish itself by prolific root sprouting.

The Sunnyside Street Tree Team (S2T2) Tree-of-Heaven Information Project is working to educate the community about this tree, which we see invading parts of our neighborhood. We will be inventorying in Sunnyside any tree-of-heaven visible from the public right-of-way and leaving information for residents where we see the tree.

Would you like to join us in our inventory? If so, e-mail us at for more information or to volunteer.  Also, see our Tree-of-Heaven Information sheet here

Urban Forestry is Seeking 2 AmeriCorps Tree Plan Coordinators!

Do you like working in communities to build a sense of place? Do you like trees and want to learn more about how to manage the urban forest on a local scale? Do you have experience working with volunteers and organizing events? Then the Tree Plan Coordinator position could be right for you!

PP&R Urban Forestry is seeking diverse, qualified applicants for the Tree Plan Coordinator position in partnership with Confluence Environmental Center. The position is a full-time, year-long AmeriCorps position that will be stationed at Urban Forestry headquarters in Delta Park in North Portland.

The application deadline is Wednesday, July 16th at midnight.

View the complete position description, requirements, and application instructions here.