|In honor of the Square’s 25th Anniversary in 2009 Randy Gragg and Audrey Alverson curated “Pioneering the Square,” a historical exhibit at the American Institute of Architects. The exhibit covered the history of the space, the design competition and the development of the Square. This is the story of how the Square came to be.
1849: Elijah Hill, a shoemaker, purchased the block for $24 and a pair of high boots.
1856: School Board purchased the block from James Field for $1,000.
1858: Central School opened (construction cost $6,000) with 280 pupils and three teachers, a year before Oregon became a star in the flag.
1875: Pioneer Courthouse, second oldest federal courthouse in the West opens
1883: Block sold to Northern Pacific Terminal Company (Henry Villard) for $75,000, as the site for a new hotel.
1883: P.A. Marquam purchased the school building and moved it a block to the north (American Bank Building)
1888-90: Portland Hotel constructed, only after a group of businessmen raised $750,000 in subscriptions.
1890: Portland Hotel opened (construction cost $1,000,000).
1951: Meier & Frank purchased the block, razed the hotel, and built a two-level parking structure.
Much of the original stone foundation for the Portland Hotel remains under the sidewalks
Late 1960s: Meier & Frank proposed an 11-story parking garage on the block, which was denied by the City after a series of heated public hearings. This proposal, perhaps more than any other event, prompted both the downtown business community and the City to undertake a comprehensive downtown planning program.
1972 – 1974: Portland's Downtown Plan proposed open space development of the current Pioneer Courthouse Squareblock. This plan set in motion the lengthy administrative and political negotiations thatresulted in the purchase of the block by the City, the international design competition, and the choice of the Will Martin design scheme.
April 6, 1984: A Square is Born! Pioneer Courthouse Square opens
1984: TriMet opens its Customer Assistance Center
1989: Starbucks opens its flagship store
2000: Portland celebrates the Millennium with 50,000 attendees
2001: Travel Portland opens its Visitor Information Center at the Square
2004: Pioneer Square achieves 300 annual programmed event days!
2007: Pioneer Courthouse Square goes Smoke-free
2009: KGW Newschannel 8’s HD Studio on the Square opens
April 6, 2009: 25th Anniversary of Pioneer Courthouse Square