Thursday, July 02, 2020


One of the most iconic public monuments in Portland, Oregon is Elk, which usually sits on top of the Thompson Fountain on SW Main. I have been around that fountain many times. Last night it was spray painted with graffiti and a bonfire was lit under it.

The statue was designed by Roland Hinton Perry, one of the great American sculptors at the end the nineteenth century and into the twentieth. It was donated by Portland mayor David Thompson in 1900 -- originally scheduled to be dedicated on July 4 of that year, but due to delays only finished a few months later.

This is not its first abuse under protest; it was vandalized in 2016 after Trump's election, as well. (If I recall, Occupy Portland used it as a central location for protest a few years before that, but I don't think they ever did anything more than clamber on it and decorate it with flags.) And it survived last night's bonfire as well, but today apparently the city removed it indefinitely for its protection, although it's hard to find definite information about it. As far as I am aware, it is the first time it has not been standing above the Thompson Fountain since 1900, except for a brief restoration of the fountain in the 1990s. There was once a long series of attempts to move it, because as traffic patterns and routes have changed, it came to be in a very awkward place, traffic-wise. But attempts to change it just led to it being designated a Historic Landmark.

Apparently circa 2006.

I sort of regret that I didn't take time to see it the last time I was in Portland; who knows when it will be back up.