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Esther Short Park

Children playing in water feature at Esther Short Park in downtown Vancouver, Washington

2016 TripAdvisory Certificate of ExcellenceA 5-acre gem in the heart of downtown Vancouver, Esther Short Park is the oldest public square in the state of Washington.

Park History

Esther Short Park was bequeathed to the City of Vancouver in 1853 by its namesake. Today it is anchored at its southeast corner by the 69-foot Salmon Run Bell Tower, made possible by generous donations from Burgerville founder and philanthropist, the late George Propstra, and his wife Carolyn. A Glockenspiel diorama emerges from the tower on a regular schedule to depict a story of the Chinook Indians.

Into the late 1990s, Esther Short Park was unkempt and crime and drug-ridden. Vancouver Mayor Royce Pollard, responding to citizen complaints, made the park's renovation his personal project. A little over a decade later, the park had transformed into the inviting community hub it is today.

George Propstra is credited for spurring new development in the park, first donating $2 million to park improvements and later contributing $1.3 million to build the bell tower. Private donations of $3.6 million and a City investment of $2 million were used in 1998 to redevelop the park. The playground equipment, donated by the Angelo family, is constructed in a Victorian theme that reflects the history of the park. Esther Short Park has proven to be a catalyst that has contributed to a surge of economic development in downtown Vancouver.

The City's first piece of public art, a bronze statue of "The Pioneer Mother" was ceremoniously unveiled in 1929. She still stands at the north entrance to the park. Various other attractions, including a skating rink, a wading pool and a railroad engine, have since come and gone.

Esther Short Park is part of the Esther Short Neighborhood.

Facilities

  • Benches
  • Gazebo
  • Open lawn
  • Picnic shelter/stage
  • Playground with swings
  • Restrooms
  • Walking paths
  • Water feature/fountain

The water feature at Esther Short Park is scheduled to run non-stop mid-April through October. Safety is our number one priority. If the fountain is turned off it means we are working on an unexpected maintenance issue or testing the chemicals and pump system. With questions or concerns contact our main line at 360-487-8311 or email cityparkrec@cityofvancouver.us

Park Hours and Fees

Esther Short Park is open year-round from 5 a.m. until 10 p.m.

Parking spaces around this park are metered with various time limits. Take a look at the City's parking map to plan your trip.

Special Events

Esther Short Park serves as a year-round venue for a variety of public and private events, programs, concerts and other activities, including:

Want to plan your event in Esther Short Park? Explore park permit fees for public and private events.

An area has been designated in Esther Short Park for people wishing to participate in Free Speech. Technically, the entire park is available for Free Speech activities, unless closed to the public through a special event permit.

Leave A Legacy

Bricks located around the bell tower in Propstra Square are an excellent way to commemorate a loved one or friend. Proceeds from the sale of bricks benefit the Parks Foundation of Clark County and the maintenance of flowers and plants growing in the park.

Photo of Propstra Square inside the park
Photo of the holiday tree lighting ceremony in the park
Photo of the crowd at a Riverview Six to Sunset concert
Photo of statues in the park
Photo of children and parents playing on the playground equipment in the park
Photo of a child watching the Chinook Tribe story of the salmon on the glockenspiel at the park
Photo of children playing in the fountain at Propstra Square in the park
Photo of Hawaiian dancers performing on the main stage in Esther Short Park
A statue of the Pioneer Mothers welcomes visitors to Esther Short Park