A five-acre gem in the heart of Vancouver, Esther Short Park is the oldest public square in the state of Washington. The park is now a jewel in the heart of downtown Vancouver and the city's backyard - home to great public events and family activities throughout the year.
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 then, later, contributing $1.3 million to build the bell tower. Private donations of $3.6 million and 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. The 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.
5 a.m. to 10 p.m.
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
- Vancouver Farmers Market - on the Esther Street side of the park every weekend from spring through fall
- Christmas tree lighting ceremony
To reserve the park or part of the park for your public or private event, please contact the City of Vancouver's Special Events Coordinator at 360-487-8630.
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. See the link below for a map and information on the Free Speech Area in the park.
Esther Short Park is a part of the Esther Short Neighborhood.