Until 1909, the land that would become Laurelhurst Park (SE 39th Ave. and Stark St.)—one of the most beautiful and beloved of Portland ’s many parks—was part of the then-mayor’s stock farms, and blue-ribbon Jersey milk cows drank from the property’s small spring-fed lake.
The city bought 30 acres of the farmland to create Laurelhurst Park based on plans drawn up by the Olmstead Brothers for the development of Portland’s parks. The original watering hole was enlarged and deepened into a three-acre lake, and the rest of the park was divided into a series of distinct sections, according to the ideals of the City Beautiful Movement, an urban planning campaign from the 1890s and 1900s.
In 2001 the park was named to the National Register of Historic Places, the first city park ever listed on the national register.
Today, Laurelhurst Park is a lovely and leafy destination for strolling, picnicking, or simply relaxing in beautifully vernal surroundings. The lake is filled with ducks, geese, and swans, and feeding the waterfowl is a common pastime; the waters also yield catfish, carp, and crappies, as averred by busy anglers.
The south side of the park has tennis, volleyball, and basketball courts; nearby is a large playground for children, with a large play structure.