Contribution by Dr. Tanya Lyn March – MS in Historic Preservation from Columbia University, PhD from PSU in Urban Studies focused on the homefront childhood experience of Guild’s Lake Courts, many of those elders interviewed in that research shared stories about Jantzen Beach Amusement Park, the swimming pools were not open to use by people of color until 1953.
Last call to ride – well, at least for a while. In just two short weeks, Jantzen Beach mall will be closing the historic Carousel that has been a staple of good times and memories for 91 years. From now until April 22nd when it will stop spinning at 6 pm, seize this opportunity to experience the magic one last time before the carousel is taken down when they start mall renovations. First time riders are encouraged to ask the Carousel Operator for signed certificate commemorating the occasion. Visitors can also explore the displays that are mini-museum exhibits about the past glory days.
A bit of history … The Jantzen Beach Shopping Center was built in the 1970s on the massive 112-acre property, known as the Jantzen Beach Amusement Park. The Park, which opened May 26, 1928, was said by the press of the day to rival New York’s Coney Island. Ten cents got you into the park to enjoy all of the attractions. The park flourished as the city grew during World War II, and facilities such as dance halls, roller-skating and jazz music kept the place hopping when it was too cold to swim outside. How often do you have a chance in life to get so close to a piece of history?
The Carousel was fully restored in 1995 as a labor of love and remains in wonderful condition. The indoor climate control has been a blessing for a machine that once operated in the open air. A good faith move by the owner would be to relist the Carousel immediately on the National Register of Historic Places.
A few weeks ago, many area parents panicked a bit when it became clear that the 2008 plan to relocate the Carousel to the Children’s Museum had failed and started a grass roots effort to keep the attraction local. Many PDX Kids Calender readers tweeted, blogged, made phone calls and started an online petition. The Facebook Group, Friends of Portland’s Wooden Carousels was a spring board for collective parent activism.
Just last week, the developer and mall owner, Edens, responded to these efforts and is revisiting plans to incorporate historic Jantzen Amusement Park names into the property and maintain the Carousel within the redeveloped mall. Jantzen Beach Mall needs its Carousel to create a sense of place. This icon with its 72 horses is the magical spark that sets this mall apart from the typical generic shopping centers across the region. Vigilance is needed to ensure that this great icon will reopen to entrance riders of all ages once again.
To learn more, and support the cause of keeping the carousel in Portland – and bringing it back to a remodeled Jantzen Beach, join the Friends of Portland’s Wooden Carousels group on Facebook.
Hours of operation: Sunday-Thursday 11am – 6pm & Friday & Saturday 11am – 8pm
We know there is more information out there and we will continue to add as it’s available. In the meantime, here are a few additional stories about what’s going on with the carousel and renovations:
Major Jantzen Beach renovations include restoring the carousel – Oregonlive.com
Jantzen Beach slated for $50M makeover – Portland Business Journal