accessible play area, accessible restroom, basketball court, paths – paved, picnic shelter, picnic site – reservable, picnic tables, playground, stage – outdoor, statue or public art, and volleyball court.
The playground at Dawson Park will be closed completely on Thursday and Friday, June 11-12, for repairs. We apologize for the inconvenience.
Parking - Street parking
- Paved pathway to play area
- 50 feet to play area
Play Area - Engineered mulch surface
- Ramp into play area
Play Equipment - Transfer station
- Sensory play elements
Other Amenities - Accessible restroom
Dawson Park is named in honor of an Episcopal minister, the Rev. John Dawson, who was an advocate of child welfare and civic improvement in the 1920s. This space was once a cow pasture and then a ballfield used by the Immaculate Heart Church and School. It was also a frequent stopping place for small circuses and medicine shows.
The gazebo in the park was built in 1978 to showcase the 120 year-old cupola salvaged from the Hill Block Building, once a cornerstone of the old Albina commercial district and an informal gathering place for the African-American community. The onion-like dome was landmark architecture on the Hill Block Building located on the northwest corner of the intersection of N. Russell & Williams. The building and many others were torn down in the early 1970s to make room for a proposed expansion of the Emanuel Hospital campus. The expansion did not take place due to a cut in federal funds. The gazebo was renovated in 2008.
The summer of 2000 saw an increase of criminal activity in the park. A partnership was formed between the Portland Police Bureau, Portland Parks & Recreation, the Eliot Neighborhood Association, Legacy Emanuel Hospital, Immaculate Heart Church, neighbors, and local businesses to address the problem. This community effort resulted in a revitalization of the park, adding amenities like permanent checkers tables and promoting positive activities for all ages.