Portland's first parks were acquired from William W. Chapman and Daniel H. Lownsdale, and consisted of what we now call the Plaza Blocks and two of the South Park Blocks.
Terwilliger Park, 14 acres on the corner of SW Corbett Avenue & Bancroft Street, was donated by the Terwilliger family. (This park no longer exists.)
With more land donations from Lownsdale and Chapman, and also from John Couch, a strip of Park Blocks was created through the downtown area.
When Portland consolidated with the City of East Portland, it acquired Holladay Park.
Forty acres, which would become City Park (later renamed Washington Park), were acquired through direct purchase by the City. City parks were under the supervision of the Water Board.
Dr. Richard B. Knight donated his menagerie of exhibited animals to the City for a zoo.
Donated by Stephen G. Skidmore as a memorial to his mother, Skidmore Fountain features an octagonal granite base that serves as the foundation for two bronze caryatids (classical Grecian female figures) holding up the bowl. The fountain was sculpted by New York artist Olin L. Warner and set at SW First and Ankeny as a watering place for work horses.
For $400, the City commissioned Hans Staehli to construct a fountain in Washington Park based on a Renaissance design.
On December 29, Governor Sylvester Pennoyer and his wife gave the City the first tract of land that, combined with their second donation of land in 1899, would be designated Governor's Park.
On June 21, Donald Macleay deeded to the City a 108-acre tract of land to provide an outdoor space for patients from Good Samaritan and St Vincent's Hospitals.
On February 17, the State of Oregon passed an act to provide for the acquisition of land for parks under the management of a board of park commissioners for each city in the state having a population over 3,000. The Board would consist of the Mayor, the City Engineer, the City Auditor, and five citizens appointed by the circuit court. The Board would have the power to levy taxes on property, to make rules and regulations, and to charge fines, and they would have full and complete control over all city parks. Any taxes levied to acquire park property would have to be voted on by the citizens of each city as a proposition. Portland voters approved the act that same year.
The first meeting of the Board of Park Commissioners for the City of Portland was held on October 20. Presiding was Mayor H.S. Rowe with the City Auditor Thomas C. Devlin acting as secretary. Also present were City Engineer W.B. Chase and the court-appointed citizen members General Charles F. Beebe, Rev. Thomas L. Eliot, Henry Fleckenstein, Lester Leander "L.L." Hawkins (widely known as Colonel Hawkins), and the Honorable Rufus Mallory. Control over parkland was officially passed over from the Water Board to the new Park Board.
At the November meeting, the Board formed three subcommittees: Committee on Judiciary, Finance, and Rules and Regulations; Committee on Engineering, Landscape Gardening, Zoology, Botany, and Forestry; and Committee on Equipment of Parks, Purchasing Supplies, and Employment of Men. Charles M. Myers was hired as the first Superintendent of Parks.
In December, the Board reviewed the inventory of park property prepared by Myers, which included animals, plants, buildings, and materials, as well as the following properties: five acres in Terwilliger's Claim, the Park Blocks, the Plaza Blocks, Macleay Park, Ladd's Addition, Governor's Park, and three other unnamed parks.
David P. Thompson presented the City with the Plaza Fountain (now known as the David P. Thompson Memorial Fountain) as a watering place for horses in the middle of Main Street between the Plaza Blocks. H.G. Wright designed the octagonal granite base with water troughs, and Roland H. Parry sculpted the bronze elk that sits atop the base.