A five-acre gem in the heart of downtown Vancouver, Esther Short Park is the oldest public square in the state of Washington.
Esther Short Park is one of the oldest public parks in the region, established in 1853, when it was bequeathed to the city 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.
Take a look at Esther Short Park in real time through the live web cam
Esther Short Park is part of the Esther Short Neighborhood.
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.
The site serves as a year-round venue for a variety of public and private events, programs, concerts and other activities, including:
- Free summer concerts and movies
- The Vancouver Farmers Market
- Christmas tree lighting ceremony
Want to plan your event in Esther Short Park? See what park permit fees are 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.