Saturday, June 26, 2010

All the Pretty Horses

Summer has finally arrived in Portland and that means yard sale season. Today, I happened upon an interesting one worthy of a few photographs I will share in the near future. But first, a bit of back story.

For the past couple of years a number of creative type folks and various copycats around town have been  attaching plastic horses to the remnants of Portland's pre-car past. Throughout the city, if you look at the sidewalks you will see little metal rings, sometimes rusted and mangled with age, affixed to the cement. These were originally intended as hitches for horse, or at least tie-ups for the reigns of people's horses through out town. As sidewalks have been replaced, these have been lost over time, but they are a still common feature of the scenery.

With this history in mind, people were hitching plastic ponies to these old relics adding a bit of humor and color to the normally gray dull city streets.

In my neighborhood there were quite a few of these horses, but someone took offense to these inanimate objects being chained up. As I perused the yard sale today, the woman told me how she liberated all of the horses in the neighborhood. "I can't stand to see an animal chained up. It symbolize all of the animals being oppressed. So I set them free even the plastic ones, because they need to be free too." 

The woman began to get a blissed-out, glassy eyed appearance as she spoke on and on about the horses. And I thanked her for showing me her wares. As I left a simple thought crossed my mind, "You freed these plastic horses so you could sell them...HA!" 
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  1. The horse rings are considered historic artifacts, so any time sidewalks are being re-done, the workers have to try to salvage them and replace them in the same spot that they found them. That's why you'll occasionally see horse rings in new sidewalks. I just read that in the past week - I'd been wondering why I was seeing them in new sidewalks, and it made me happy to know that they weren't putting new ones in just for a quirky nostalgia factor.

  2. I had no idea that they were trying to keep the horse rings in place. I think that it is great. Personally, I wish some places would put the street names into the cement as they did in some of the neighborhoods around town. I always found those to be a nice feature.

    But if you are missing your horse, keep in mind that it has probably been liberated and sold into servitude by some hippie.