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January Newsletter and 2023 Annual Report

News Article
Portland's Public Street Plazas Banner featuring a cartoon scene of people enjoying a plaza.  People are running, biking, sitting, eating, socializing, dancing, and DJing.
Our January newsletter. Featuring the 2023 Annual report, a year in pictures, and a new art installation for Portland's Winter Lights Festival.
Published
In this article

Happy New Year! The 2023 Annual Plaza Report is Here. Plus Robot Sighting at NW 13th Plaza!

Happy New Year from the Portland Public Street Plaza Team! We are excited for what the new year will bring for our program, our partnerships, and the vibrant community spaces we steward. In this New Year's edition of our newsletter, we are releasing our 2023 Annual Report. Read on to learn about how the spaces were used, how plaza users viewed the spaces, and opportunities for future growth and programmatic improvements. Also, don't miss out on visiting Mechan 42, a friendly robot visiting NW 13th Ave Plaza.


The 2023 Street Plaza Annual Report

A title page reading "Portland Street Plazas 2023 Annual Report".  The PBOT logo is visible in the corner.  The background features and Aerial view of the brightly painted Arleta Triangle Square with many people below.

What an exciting year for our program! Each year, PBOT creates an annual report to showcase the development of the Public Street Plaza Program. The 2023 report details plaza usage, visitor perspectives, and outlines opportunities for future growth and programmatic improvements.

Highlights from the year:

  • New plazas: There are 18 plazas total, including the addition of 2 new plazas (Pod Plaza and Outer Space Plaza).
  • Events: Over 236 events were held in the plazas. The introduction of the Small Plaza Activation application lowered barriers for communities to organize and host events.
  • Partnerships: New partnerships formed with MusicPortland for live music and Ground Score Association for trash pickup. 
  • Signage: The addition of new signage improved wayfinding, sense of belonging, and program awareness.
  • Street paintings: 7 street paintings were installed in collaboration with community partners. 
  • Survey results: 89% of respondents felt that plazas contributed to a safe and vibrant area with 90% believing they should remain open beyond 2023.

The Annual Report is now available on our website!


Robot Sighting at NW 13th Ave! Don't Worry, He Comes in Peace..

A robot stands in the middle of NW 13th Ave Plaza.  The robot has a large heart on its chest and holds a floating crystal between its hands.

If you have recently found your way to NW 13th Avenue between NW Everett Street and Flanders, you may have noticed a friendly new visitor to the plaza.

Mechan 42, known as the "Space Explorer," is a fascinating robotic art installation created by Tyler FuQua Creations (TFC). It stands out as the first art piece ever commissioned for the Portland Winter Light Festival. This impressive robot stands 17 feet tall and is the sixth in the Mechan Inc series by Tyler. The Mechans, including Mechan 42, have had a wide range of adventures, from Burning Man to Saudi Arabia, to diving into the depths of the Atlantic Ocean.

Mechan 42 is designed with over 100 LEDs, a jetpack, and a shiny astronaut helmet. Mechan 42 stands out with its unique design elements such as illuminated rivets, a floating space crystal, and a heart chamber that serves as its power source. Each handcrafted Mechan robot, including Mechan 42, possesses its own distinctive personality.

"Public art is a necessity for a successful society as it fosters creativity and imagination.   We hope that our giant art installations inspire people to follow their own dreams and think big without letting any obstacles stand in their way (not even a giant robot!)  Art in public spaces is a great way to give that space its own personality which encourages people to hang out there and feel a connection to the area.  I am happy to support downtown Portland's revitalization through the Winter Lights Festival and Portland's Public Street Plazas."

-Tyler Fuqua, Creator of Mechan 42

The Portland Winter Light Festival is an event produced by the Willamette Light Brigade. The Oregon based nonprofit aims to connect communities and enrich public spaces with dynamic winter lighting. Winter Lights runs February 2-10, but you can come visit Mechan today through March.


A Year in Pictures

Alt Text: An image is shown of Ankeny Rainbow Road Plaza with 3 visitors and one dog in the foreground. Two bikers ride by in the background.
Ankeny Rainbow Road saw a new curb to curb painting extension. People love coming to the plaza to grab a bite from Crema, Gorges Brewing, and Ankeny Tap and Table.
DJ Prashant is pictured, DJing with his hands up in celebration, facing a crowd of dancers in St Johns Plaza
Dance United block parties were an absolute blast! Photo courtesy of Dance United
A woman on the right, standing, sings into a microphone while a man on the left, sitting, plays on guitar at St Johns Plaza.
The Portland Standard Time Band perform for people at Fall Fling at St. Johns Plaza.
A child on the left plays with a slinky, another group of children on the right are sitting on the ground at montavilla plaza.  Pop up tents are visible in the background.  Two people are playing guitar under on tent on the far right.
Montavilla Plaza is a space enjoyed by people of all ages. Montavilla East Tabor Business Association hosted events ranging from farmers markets, tree lighting, musical performances, movie nights and more!
Smiling vendors at the Montavilla Farmer's market selling vegetables at a vendor stall.
Montavilla Plaza hosted a special farmer's market every Thursday this past summer.
Vendors sit under a pop up tent at Arleta Triangle Square.  The vendors are selling a variety of crafts.  The pavement is colorfully painted with rainbow stripes
Arleta Triangle Square was a popular spot for community makers markets this year.
Two children hang out at a picnic table at pod plaza in Downtown Portland.  The plaza is lined with astroturf.  The abstract Pod sculpture is visible in the background.
Pod Plaza, named after the famous Pod Sculpture, was added May of this year.
An Aerial view of the brightly painted Arleta Triangle Square Plaza.  Many people, trees, planters, and benches are visible below.
Arleta Triangle Square is beautiful whether from land or air!
Children lay on the astroturf while parents and other adults sit on the public picnic benches at Pod Plaza.
Kids love the astroturf at Pod Plaza

Do you have a great Public Street Plaza Photo?

We'd love to feature it!  Share your best PBOT Street Plaza photo with the world by tagging @PBOTinfo on InstagramFacebook, or X (formally Twitter).  You can also email them directly to our team at PortlandStreetPlazas@portlandoregon.gov


Where can you find PBOT's Street Plazas?

PBOT has numerous active plazas that are ready for you, your friends, and family to enjoy! They are great places to grab a bite to eat, relax in the shade, enjoy live music, meet up with friends, and so much more. Check out our directory to find out more about plazas near you!

A map of Portland featuring the 17 street plazas across the city

PBOT has numerous active plazas that are ready for you, your friends, and family to enjoy! They are great places to grab a bite to eat, relax in the shade, enjoy live music, meet up with friends, and so much more. Check out our directory to find out more about plazas near you!


What is the Portland Public Street Plaza Program?

Originally started during the Covid-19 pandemic to assist businesses and Portlanders, PBOTs Public Street Plaza program-built partnerships with community and local businesses to transform select streets into public spaces for cultural events, street fairs, pop-up markets, and more. The program uses PBOT's Livable Streets Strategy, adopted by Portland City Council in 2017 as its policy foundation to turn streets into inclusive public spaces that foster public life. In 2022 PBOT’s Planning team started work to turn the temporary, pandemic-era program into a permanent Street Plaza program. This program continues to allow PBOT to act on its values around climate action, mobility for all, and building community by creating public spaces that all Portlander should be able to use and enjoy.


Portland Public Street Plazas Funded by the American Rescue Plan

This project is funded by the American Rescue Plan, a federal economic stimulus bill designed to help communities recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and economic recession. The City of Portland is receiving $208 million of local recovery funds. Investments focus on three key priorities: houselessness response and household stabilization, business and commercial district stabilization, and community health and safety.

The City of Portland's America Rescue Plan Logo.  The subtitle reads Investing in Portland

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