May 19, 2015
The Benson Bubbler drinking fountains are legendary in the City of Roses.
The Benson Bubblers were named after businessman and philanthropist Simon Benson, who donated $10,000 for the purchase and installation of 20 fountains in 1912.
Folklore suggests that Benson was concerned that local loggers were visiting saloons too much during the work day. He wanted to provide them with the alternative of fresh, clean water.
Over a century later, the Bubblers are still flowing. They are so famous, there’s even one in our sister city of Sapporo, Japan!
There are 51 “true” four-bowl Benson Bubblers in Portland. Forty-eight are installed in downtown Portland while three on the Eastside. They provide drinking water from the Bull Run reservoirs.
An additional 79 bubblers replicating the original style have been cast and installed over the years, but are not to be confused with the “true” 51.
KOIN 6 News has a great article about the history of the Benson Bubblers.
Check out the Portland Water Bureau’s website for even more information.
Ken Boddie in KOIN 6 News