February Plaza Newsletter

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.
Winter Lights come to the plazas and Darcelle XV Plaza update.
In this article

Winter Lights Come to The Plazas

Greetings from the Public Street Plaza team!  This month, the beloved Winter Lights Festival will light up streets, parks, plazas, and businesses across Portland with vibrant installations and lively performances. This year three installations have been set up at Montgomery, St Johns, and NW 13th Ave Plazas with special performances held at the Cart Blocks. The festival runs from February 2nd to the 10th, but many installations will be up all month!

Additionally, this weekend, we invite you to the Darcelle XV Plaza Community Open House. Read on to find out more!

The Winter Lights Festival logo featuring a rainbow cloud.

Winter Lights Events

Now through March- Montgomery Street Plaza Winter Lights Installation

From now until early march stroll through Montgomery Plaza on PSU's campus and enjoy the projected light installation from Steve Harper of Indigo Design.  Nearby installations include Thee Octipie of Love just two blocks down in front of the Simon Benson Home.

Interested in touring the lights around downtown?  Love sustainability? PSU's Student Sustainability Center, will be hosting their Winter Lights Social on Friday, February 2nd starting in Montgomery Plaza from 5:00-7:30pm.

Colorful patterned lights project onto a street mural at Montgomery Street Plaza.
Photo: Portland State University

Now through March - Mechan 42 Winter Lights Installation at NW 13th Ave Plaza

Featured in last month's newsletter, 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!

A robot in the middle of NW 13th Avenue holds a floating crystal between its upraised arms.

Feb. 2 - 10 - Glow Worms at St Johns Plaza (WAITING ON CC TO FINALIZE)

Come worm up and meet your new fireside companion—a glow worm unveiling its soothing light under the quiet magic of the winter night. The style of the faux fire is inspired by Dutch artists Vendel & de Wolf, specifically their installations "Fluxit" and "Sign". This project by CC is her first ever art installation!

A large human sized glow worm art installation.  It glows green and has big cartoon eyes.
A glow worm is finished and ready to be installed at St Johns Plaza. Photo: CC

Saturday, Feb. 3 & Saturday Feb. 10 - LED Drag 7–9 PM

The LED Drag show is back for it's 2nd annual show produced by Rose City Drag , supported by Friends of the Green Loop, and hosted by the very talented drag queen Sequin McQueen. Come watch amazing local drag artists perform around LED lights in the Cart Blocks (location). Food carts will be open if you are hungry. Performances run 7-9pm on both Saturday, Feb. 3 and Feb. 10.

A drag artist in pink striped spandex with patterned stripes unfurls their led-lit wings to an audience at the cart blocks.
Photo: Brooke Hoyer

Darcelle XV-Community Open House

Speaking of drag...have you heard about the New Darcelle XV plaza?

In July 2023 O'Bryant Square was renamed Darcelle XV Plaza. This renaming represents a crucial step towards inclusivity, recognition, and respect for Portland's LGBTQ2SIA+ community.

"By renaming the square, Portland can breathe new life into this space and honor the lasting impact of Walter Cole, the visionary who transformed drag entertainment and provided a safe haven for people of all gender identities and sexual orientations. Darcelle XV Showcase, the longest-running drag cabaret on the West Coast, carries immense cultural, historical, and social significance."

-Portland Parks & Recreation

Since then, a collaborative effort between Portland Portland Parks, Portland State University's (PSU) Center for Public Interest Design, NNA Landscape Architecture, and Downtown Portland Clean & Safe is planning a new design for the long defunct square.

Now we are hoping to get YOU involved!

An illustration showing the proposed plaza, dog off-leash area, and activation spaces in the Darcelle XV Plaza design.
A concept from Portland Parks shows various ammenities and features within Darcelle XV Plaza, including the adjacent PBOT Street Plaza extension.

PP&R, the Center for Public Interest Design, and Downtown Portland Clean & Safe will co-host a community open house event from 3:00-6:00pm. PBOT staff will be in attendance for feedback on how to effectively use the road closure on SW 9th Ave adjacent to the plaza (see concept image above).

The event will focus on:

  • Honoring Darcelle XV: How can this plaza space best honor Darcelle XV in both the short and long term?
  • 9th Avenue Street Plaza: How can this adjacent PBOT plaza be used to create complementary space with Darcelle XV Plaza and support connections through the Green Loop to Pride Plaza (SW Harvey Milk Street, between SW 11th Ave. and SW 13th Ave)?
  • Art Opportunities and Activation: How can we use art, programs, and activities to honor Darcelle XV? How can we ensure the park is a vibrant public space right away and for years to come?
  • The Reuse of Cast Iron: How might we best reuse cast iron at the site to honor its history, honor Darcelle XV, tell broader stories about Portland’s history, and create meaningful features or landmarks in the park?

After the Community Open House, we encourage all guests to take a stroll around downtown to see the several fabulous Portland Winter Lights Festival attractions within blocks of Darcelle XV Plaza.

When: Sunday, February 4, 2024 / 3:00pm-6:00pm 
Where: The Morgan Building / 740 SW Washington St, Portland, OR 97205 (across SW Washington St. from Darcelle XV Plaza)

A poster advertising the Darcelle XV Open house

Plazas in Pictures

A drag performer with led sneakers and a hula hoop performs to a large audience at the cart blocks.
Last years LED drag was 100% fabulous! Photo: Brooke Hoyer

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

Upcoming Grant Opportunities

  • The Regional Travel Options Program creates safe, vibrant and livable communities by providing grants and supporting efforts that increase walking, biking, ride sharing, telecommuting and public transit use. A second round of funding is now available for the 2023-26 grant cycle within the General Grants track. Letters of Interest are due March 1, 2024; full applications are due March 29, 2024.

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

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

Contact Us

Feedback, suggestions, partnerships, photos or event ideas?  We'd love to hear from you!  Email us at portlandstreetplazas@portlandoregon.gov

The City of Portland ensures meaningful access to city programs, services, and activities to comply with Civil Rights Title VI and ADA Title II laws and reasonably provides: translation, interpretation, modifications, accommodations, alternative formats, auxiliary aids and services. To request these services, contact the Portland Bureau of Transportation at 311 (503-823-4000), for Relay Service & TTY: 711.Click to edit this placeholder text.