Slabtown Tours Fun Fact #38

Portland Ice Hippodrome c. 1914 Angelus Studio Courtesy University of Oregon. Libraries. Special Collections University Archives

What is left of Slabtown’s Olympic-Sized Ice Rink?

The Portland Ice Hippodrome opened on November 9, 1914 at 20th Avenue between Marshall and Northrup Streets. The structure covered two city blocks (175 x 360 feet) and offered seating for 5,000 and surface ice for 2,500 skaters (but you might want to bring your own skates). Twenty miles of pipe kept the ice surface frozen at 12 degrees above zero and two and a half inches thick, spanning 321 feet by 85 feet. It was the greatest and largest artificial ice rink in the world when it opened and the lead instructor was James Bourke, a champion figure skater known as the “Canadian Crack Shot”, once mentored by Norval Baptie.

Courtesy The Oregon Journal

From out of this arena that the “Portland Rosebuds” (officially the “Patricks”) came the first American hockey team engraved onto the first Stanley Cup—back in 1915–16 when safety equipment was minimal and they technically did not win the game. The original “Portland Buckaroos” played there 1928–1941.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisement 1913 Oregon Daily Journal

 

The broken wall sections are all that remains. (Image TLM)

The remaining evidence of the massive ice skating arena is a former retaining wall (running in a jagged pattern along former party wall) painted blue just west of Marshall Manor. The cost to maintain the ice and cover the lease payments proved unsustainable for the owners. The ice rink (also known as Portland Ice Palace) reopened as Coliseum Ice in 1925, and was commonly referred to as the Marshall Street Ice Rink.

 

The city was never confident in the structure’s supporting system and forced it to close in the 1950s because of fire safety egress limitations.