4 thoughts on “Peninsula Park, circa 1939

  1. The Peninsula Park circus was a big event every year in the summer. I grew up four blocks from the park and swam, played tennis and goofed off there every year until I entered the Air Force.

  2. I also grew up four blocks from the park, remember the circus and all the summer days we spent at at the pool – with the exception of the year (or two) that they held the zoo penguins captive there. Also, the pool’s wall (on the Portland Blvd. side) blew down during the Columbus Day storm.

  3. I too spent many fun-filled hours in the Peninsula pool. I remember when they put the penguins in it while waiting for their habitat at the zoo, I lived down on Lombard so it really wasn’t that far.

  4. The Children’s Circus at Peninsula Park was a city-sponsored (Bureau of Parks and Recreation) annual event from at least 1924 or 1925 until some time in the later 1960s, per local media coverage in the Oregonian. The usually 3-ring circus in the park was held over two days usually in late August, preceded by a publicity boosting parade of selected young performers through downtown and later at Lloyd Center. Children from around the city were “recruited” — based on various talent displays — from play groups organized in the summer by the Parks Bureau at numerous city parks, and their acts (dressing up animals, acrobatics, etc.) were supplemented, it seems, by pro circus talent drawn from a locally based branch of circus impresario known as “Barr Brothers Co.,” which sponsored and supervised the performances. Barr Bros. circuses were present in other towns across the U.S. A parks bureau employee named Ray Dennison was in overall charge of this event for many years from the 1930s into the 1960s, and he and his own children performed gymnastic feats at the big-top shows. Attendance at the Peninsula Park shows once numbered in the thousands and admission was always free. I suppose public interest in circuses, especially among children, has withered if not disappeared over the years.

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