Heritage Trees

Walk Description

American Elm Heritage Tree #1
American Elm – Heritage Tree #1

Many big cities are nothing more than a Grand Canyon of buildings. They are lifeless wind tunnels with little real landscaping beyond what some planning commission may have required. On the other hand, almost every city has some interesting architecture that sets it apart, like the 630-foot tall Gateway Arch in St. Louis or the 605-foot-tall Space Needle in Seattle. In Portland, when it comes to ‘tall’ we think of heritage trees, like the 150-year-old, 78-foot tall American Elm downtown. So proud of our trees, the City of Portland has created a map with every one of the city’s 298 ‘heritage trees’ cataloged and mapped.  

We offer a look at just a few within an easy walk from Pioneer Courthouse Square.

Follow this route:

  1. London Planetree – NW Corner, SW Park & Southwest Main Street
  2. American Elm – 1111 SW Main Street
  3. Black Walnut – 1600 Salmon Street (not pictured below)
  4. Lavelle Hawthorne (four trees) – 1011 SW 12th Avenue

Tree-shaded main streets make it tolerable to be outside even on the hottest days. Despite what people think they know about weather in the Pacific Northwest, we do have hot summers. And, walking under a canopy of trees as you tour Portland, is a thing of beauty. Seeing the heritage trees is not only an enjoyable walk, a chance to see a place that relishes protecting nature more than anything else.

In the downtown area, within an easy walk from American Elm Heritage Tree # 1 sign Pioneer Courthouse Square are six heritage tree locations with a total of seven heritage trees at four locations.

Our favorite (and the #1 listing among the 298 mapped) is a giant American Elm behind the Portland Art Museum at 1111 SW 10th Avenue. This tree was planted in front of the home of Martin and Rosetta Burrell in 1870 and is thus known as the ‘Burrell Elm’. Vital statistics:

American elm (Ulmus americana)

– Height 78 ft
– Spread 105 ft
– Circumference 12.17 ft

4 Heritage Trees at First Unitarian

First Unitarian Church Heritage Trees
Heritage trees in front of the historic First Unitarian Church

Four more heritage trees stand in front of the First Unitarian Church, 1011 SW 12th. All show similar vital statistics:

Lavelle Hawthorne – Trees #109-112

1011 SW 12th
– Lavalle hawthorn (Crataegus x lavallei)
– Height 38 ft
– Spread 46 ft
– Circumference 6.08 ft


London Planetree
London Planetree with the Portland Art Museum in the background

London Planetree – Tree #2

NW/C SW Park & SW Main St

– London planetree (Platanus x acerifolia)
– Height 63 ft
– Spread 95 ft
– Circumference 14 ft This tree was planted beside the Sylvester Farrell house in 1880.


Want to learn more about Portland’s Heritage Tree Program? Click here.