(McCoy Fountain. Located on the southeast corner of McCoy Park in North Portland.)
Portland is known for trailblazers. It's the moniker of the city's beloved professional basketball team. The term is well suited for the region given the abundance of trails throughout the pacific northwest. And how could one forget the enduring historical presence of the Oregon trail? Today we're going to take a closer look at a woman who was a true trailblazer in Oregon politics, and the public space that honors her legacy.
Gladys McCoy was a politician and public servant in Portland, OR from 1970 until 1993. In 1970 she was elected to the board of Portland Public Schools, making her the first African American elected to public office in Oregon. She served on the school board until 1978 when she was elected to the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners. She served as commissioner until 1984 and was then elected county chair in 1986, where she served until her death in 1993.
McCoy Park in North Portland is named after Gladys and her husband Bill, who served in the Oregon Senate. During their time in office the McCoys focused on issues affecting minority and low-income people in North Portland during the 1970's and 80's. Located in the Portsmouth neighborhood between Kenton and St. John's, the site of the park was founded in 2005. McCoy Park features a modern playground, a splash fountain, and a basketball court.
The details that really struck me as I strolled through the park were the expansive community garden, and the salmon and squirrel park benches (pictured below) created by renowned metal sculptor Mufu Ahmed. They're the coolest and cutest pieces of public art that I've seen in a long time! The splash pad and fountain operate from Memorial Day through the end of September and surely provide relief on summer afternoons. And although I visited the park on a chilly winter's day, it's easy to see how this beautiful public space is the centerpiece of the neighborhood during the warm weather months and year round!