Located in the heart of downtown Portland, Pioneer Courthouse Square is affectionately known as the city’s “living room.” Once a grim parking structure, the square is now a thriving urban park and the single most-visited site in Oregon, attracting more than 9.5 million visitors annually. The square’s on-site resources include the Travel Portland Visitor Information Center and TriMet‘s public transit ticket office.
Named after the Pioneer Courthouse (the Pacific Northwest’s oldest federal building) located on the public space’s eastern side, the square began as the Portland Hotel in 1890. In 1950 the hotel became a two-story parking garage, and in 1984 it was reborn as a bustling city park where light rail and buses converge. These days, the square is where workers, visitors and families gather to enjoy the city, catch a ride elsewhere and even enjoy a meal at the food carts parked on the bricks.
The square is also one of Portland’s leading outdoor venues, hosting 300 events each year, from large-scale concerts to cultural festivals. For example, the Portland Farmers Market fills the Pioneer Courthouse Square every Monday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., June to October. In the summer, the Noon Tunes concert series fills the lunch-hour air with free live music on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and on Fridays, Flicks on the Bricks transforms the “living room” into Portland’s biggest movie theater, with no-cost, family-friendly fare. Around Labor Day, the area becomes an open-air rock venue, when MusicfestNW sets up an outdoor stage for several nights.
But the square hosts more than summertime excitement; every year, the city’s Thanksgiving parade ends here, with the lighting of the region’s largest decorated holiday tree, and an array of festive events, like the Tuba Christmas Concert and the Holiday Ale Festival, keep the space merry and bright.