Where We Live: Vancouver’s Esther Short Park

Here's why many things in Vancouver are named after her

Esther Short Park is a hub for civic events in Vancouver, Washington. (KOIN)

VANCOUVER, Wash. (KOIN) — In the heart of Vancouver is Esther Short Park, where most major civic events happen, right across the street from City Hall.

Many things in Vancouver are named after Esther Short and her story is a big part of where we live.

Esther Short was a pioneer who came to Vancouver from Pennsylvania in the 1800s.
Esther Short was a pioneer who came to Vancouver from Pennsylvania in the 1800s.

Short, part Native American and a mother of 12, came to what is now Vancouver from Pennsylvania in the early 1800s.

“Well, Esther Short and her husband Amos were early pioneers that came to the Oregon Territory, which this was part of at this point in time,” said Jan Bader with the City of Vancouver. “So they were some of the first people that settled this area.”

Short deeded 5 acres to Clark County after her husband died. Amos actually shot a man to death over the land claim.

“Shot him,” Bade said, “and he did not get convicted…so…”

Short’s donation was contingent on keeping it as a public square forever and the park was established in 1853. Visitors now seek out Esther Short Park as an oasis in a fast-growing city. Vancouver is the 4th largest city in Washington with 175,000 people and counting.

Clark County teachers rally at Esther Short park in Vancouver, May 13 2015 (KOIN)
Clark County teachers rally at Esther Short park in Vancouver, May 13 2015 (KOIN)

“Spaces like this are vital to the understanding and roots of why people choose to live where they live,” David Stubbs said.

Then-Vancouver Mayor Royce Pollard rallied the business community to revitalize the park in the early 1990s. The statue honors Burgerville founder George Propstra, who gave $3 million to build the Salmon Run Bell Tower in what is now Propstra Square.

Today, the park not only honors Esther Short, but all pioneer women on the Oregon Trail.

“My office in City Hall, the windows overlook this park,” Bader said. “And sometimes I look out and think ‘Esther would have been proud.'”

Esther Short Park is a hub for civic events in Vancouver, Washington. (KOIN)
Esther Short Park is a hub for civic events in Vancouver, Washington. (KOIN)