GENERAL INFORMATION: 503-823-7404
1120 SW Fifth Ave, Suite 600, Portland, OR 97204
While most Portlanders love our iconic Benson Bubblers, many don't realize that these four-bowled drinking fountains are the responsibility of the Portland Water Bureau. We maintain 52 bubblers in the Portland area, most of which fall inside downtown boundaries. In fact, in the 1970's the Simon Benson family asked that the we abstain from installing Benson Bubblers anywhere outside of downtown as to not dilute their uniqueness.
We hear a lot from community groups who appreciate the drinking water that the bubblers provide not only to thirsty Portlanders, but also to our homeless community. I am willing to bet that Simon Benson, who donated money for the first 20 bubblers after seeing a little girl crying at a parade because she couldn't find a drink of water, would be proud to see what a symbol of public service his fountains have become to our city.
One interesting fact I've always enjoyed about the bubblers is that there are two Benson Bubblers who "live" well outside of Portland. One, a gift to a sister city, resides in Saporro Japan. The other lives at the Maryhill Museum of Art in the Columbia River Gorge. Simon Benson was good friends with Sam Hill... and the rest is history. Seeing as how a trip to Saporro is not anywhere in my immediate future, I stopped to check out the Maryhill Museum Benson Bubbler on my way home over Memorial Day weekend.
It goes without saying that unless that Saporro Benson Bubbler lives in an unimaginably fantastic setting, the Maryhill Benson has the best view of them all! One interesting note about the Maryhill Benson is that it has been retrofitted with push buttons. We tried that for awhile here in Portland but had two problems: the community hated the look and complained, and metal thieves pilfered the buttons with such expediency that it became nearly impossible to keep them all working. Eventually, we had to remove the push buttons. However, other conservation efforts have been made over the past several years to maintain the balance between community need and water conservation.
Here are some photos of the Maryhill Benson Bubbler. Enjoy!