The first parks in Multnomah County were established in the 1850s, in what is now downtown Portland. Over time, the urban population shifted east, and new parks were needed for the new neighborhoods. However, through about 1900, most parkland was donated by wealthy landowners, usually in wealthy neighborhoods. These early parks did a poor job of serving less-affluent residents. In the years since, local governments throughout Multnomah County have continued to struggle with the challenge of building enough new parks to meet the full needs of urban and suburban residents.
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