Design Features


On April 6, 1984, 9,000 citizens inaugurated what has become one of the most successful public spaces in America designed by Will Martin. The Square was recognized by Time Magazine as one of the "ten most notable design achievements" in the country.¬† Most recently, the Square was awarded the American Planning Association’s “Great Places in America Award.” Adorning this award winning public space are a range of historic and artistic elements for the public to enjoy.

Allow Me
Serving as a signature Portland icon, this bronze life-sized sculpture of a man offering his umbrella, was created by nationally known artist J. Seward Johnson of Princeton, New Jersey. The sculpture joins a number of Johnson's works in public spaces in cities such as New York, Kansas City, Los Angeles and Oakland, California.

Bronze Chess Boards
Resting on the Morrison Street fallen column, three bronze chess boards, designed by Soderstrom Architects P.C., were installed to showcase the chess playing activities that occur on the Square.

Echo Chamber
Stand on the round marble stone in the center of the small amphitheater, face the steps and speak. You will be amazed at what you hear.

Historic Tiles
Also located in the Small Amphitheater are bronze tiles, handmade by Gail Martin, depicting scenes from Portland’s Past.

Mile Post Sign
Distances to nine sister-cities and other geographical destinations are listed on this whimsical signpost.

Will Martin’s Hat
In 1980, Willard Martin's team submitted the winning design of Pioneer Courthouse Square to the Portland Development Commission, prevailing over 160 submissions. As a tribute to his great design, a bronze replica of Will's signature wide-rim river hat is located next to the keystone lectern, above the Visitor Information Center—as if he had tossed it there while walking by today.

Named Bricks
The named bricks, which pave the Square's surface, were purchased by citizens and local businesses to raise money to build and maintain the Square. There are more than 72,430 named bricks currently in the Square. Famous bricks located in the Square are: Elvis Presley, Jimi Hendrix, Dan Rather, Sherlock Holmes, George Washington, and even Mr. Bill.

Portland Hotel Gate
Located where it once stood at the original Portland Hotel entry, the exquisite gate is directly across from Pioneer Courthouse. The wrought iron gate and fence are believed to have been designed by McKim, Mead and White, architects of the Portland Hotel. During the hotel's history only one president, Warren Harding, did not pass beneath this lovely feature.

Waterfall Fountain
In keeping with a city celebrated for its fountains, Pioneer Courthouse Square features a central waterfall fountain. The waterfall cascades down a series of large granite blocks into a reflecting pool below. The fountain serves as the primary entry into the Visitor Information Center.

Weather Machine
Designed and constructed by Omen Design Group Inc., this innovative creation consists of three weather symbols, each representing an element of Portland's typical climate. Each day at noon a musical fanfare initiates a two-minute sequence that displays the three weather symbols:

HELIA: A stylized sun, for clear sunny days.
BLUE HERON: For the days of drizzle, mist and transitional weather.
DRAGON: Stormy days of heavy rain and wind.

The final display symbol represents the weather of the day with the illuminated  bulbs displaying the temperature in 10 degree increments.

Keystone Lectern
Located at the top of the “Waterfall Fountain” this lectern was designed to be used as a focal speaking platform for the Square. The lectern is a great vantage point from which to view the Square's many activities. Also note the mosaic tiles on the floor of the lectern depict the design of the Square.