Former city destroyed by flood
Vanport in 1943, five years before the flood
|Elevation||23 ft (7 m)|
|Time zone||UTC-8 (Pacific)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC-7 (Pacific)|
|GNIS feature ID||1128512|
Vanport, sometimes referred to as Vanport City or Kaiserville,was a hastily constructed city of wartime public housing in Multnomah County, Oregon, United States, between the contemporary Portland city boundary and the Columbia River. It is currently the site of Delta Park and the Portland International Raceway.
Public housing is a form of housing tenure in which the property is owned by a government authority, which may be central or local.
Multnomah County is one of 36 counties in the U.S. state of Oregon. As of the 2010 United States Census, the county's population was 735,334. Its county seat, Portland, is the state's largest city. Multnomah County is part of the Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA Metropolitan Statistical Area, and though smallest in area, it is the state's most populous county.
Portland is the largest and most populous city in the U.S. state of Oregon and the seat of Multnomah County. It is a major port in the Willamette Valley region of the Pacific Northwest, at the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia rivers. As of 2018, Portland had an estimated population of 653,115, making it the 25th most populated city in the United States, and the second-most populous in the Pacific Northwest. Approximately 2.4 million people live in the Portland metropolitan statistical area (MSA), making it the 25th most populous MSA in the United States. Its Combined Statistical Area (CSA) ranks 19th-largest with a population of around 3.2 million. Approximately 60% of Oregon's population resides within the Portland metropolitan area.
Vanport construction began in August 1942 to house the workers at the wartime Kaiser Shipyards in Portland and Vancouver, Washington. Vanport—a portmanteau of "Vancouver" and "Portland"—was home to 40,000 people, about 40 percent of them African-American, making it Oregon's second-largest city at the time, and the largest public housing project in the nation. After the war, Vanport lost more than half of its population, dropping to 18,500, as many wartime workers left the area. However, there was also an influx of returning World War II veterans. In order to attract veterans and their families, the Housing Authority of Portland opened a college named the Vanport Extension Center; the school would eventually be renamed Portland State University.
The Kaiser Shipyards were seven major shipbuilding yards located on the United States west coast during World War II. Kaiser ranked 20th among U.S. corporations in the value of wartime production contracts. The shipyards were owned by the Kaiser Shipbuilding Company, a creation of American industrialist Henry J. Kaiser (1882–1967), who established the shipbuilding company around 1939 in order to help meet the construction goals set by the United States Maritime Commission for merchant shipping.
Vancouver is a city on the north bank of the Columbia River in the U.S. state of Washington, and the largest suburb of Portland, Oregon. Incorporated in 1857, it is the fourth largest city in the state, with a population of 161,791 as of April 1, 2010 census. Vancouver is the county seat of Clark County and forms part of the Portland-Vancouver metropolitan area, the 23rd largest metropolitan area in the United States. Originally established in 1825 around Fort Vancouver, a fur-trading outpost, the city is located on the Washington/Oregon border along the Columbia River, directly north of Portland. In 2005, Money magazine named it No. 91 on its list of best places in America to live. In 2016, WalletHub ranked Vancouver the 89th best place in the US for families to live.
A portmanteau or portmanteau word is a linguistic blend of words, in which parts of multiple words or their phones (sounds) are combined into a new word, as in smog, coined by blending smoke and fog, or motel, from motor and hotel. In linguistics, a portmanteau is defined as a single morph that represents two or more morphemes.
Vanport was dramatically destroyed at 4:05 p.m. on May 30, 1948, when a 200-foot (60 m) section of a railroad berm holding back the Columbia River collapsed during a flood, killing 15. The city was underwater by nightfall, leaving 17,500 of its inhabitants homeless.
The city was a hub of transient laborers from all corners of the country; few residents had any long-term connections with each other and little opportunity or interest to build them. The temporary nature of the new city contributed to an overall sense of insecurity and anxiety among residents. The lack of businesses and recreation opportunities contributed to a sense of distrust, and the relative isolation of the largely male workforce meant there was little demand for community institutions such as a newspaper or high school.
By 1943–44, families living in Vanport were moving out at the rate of 100 a day. A questionnaire mailed to 1,000 former Vanport families, selected randomly from the approximately 3,000 families who had left by then, asked, among other things, why they had moved to Vanport in the first place. About 230 people answered this question. The top reason given for choosing the Portland–Vancouver shipyards was that "they thought it their duty to go into defense work". The second-ranked reason was a desire for a better job, and the third, higher wages. However, the situation changed when the war ended in 1945. The Housing Authority of Portland (HAP) then sought to attract World War II veterans who needed housing, a community to raise their families, and higher education through the Servicemen's Readjustment Act (G.I. Bill). The establishment of a college at Vanport in 1946 was a key part of the strategy to keep Vanport a thriving Oregon community.
The Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944, also known as the G.I. Bill, was a law that provided a range of benefits for returning World War II veterans. It was passed by the 78th United States Congress and signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on June 22, 1944. The original G.I. Bill expired in 1956, but the term "G.I. Bill" is still used to refer to programs created to assist U.S. military veterans.
The establishment of Vanport coincided with an unprecedented influx of African-Americans into Oregon. Due to exclusionary racist laws, the state had a population of fewer than 1,800 blacks in 1940; by 1946 more than 15,000 lived in the Portland area, mostly in Vanport and other segregated housing districts. One prewar observer, Portland Urban League secretary Edwin C. Berry, described Portland as a " 'northern' city with a 'southern' exposure", arguing that the city shared with southern cities "traditions, attitudes, and things interracial in character." Berry argued that prior to the war the city exhibited remarkably unprogressive racial attitudes.
The Oregon black exclusion laws were attempts to prevent black people from settling within the borders of the settlement and eventual U.S. state of Oregon. The first such law took effect in 1844, when the Provisional Government of Oregon voted to exclude all black settlers from Oregon's borders. The law authorized a punishment for any black settler remaining in the territory to be whipped with "not less than twenty nor more than thirty-nine stripes" for every six months they remained. Additional laws aimed at African Americans entering Oregon were ratified in 1849 and 1857. The last of these laws was repealed in 1926. The laws, born of anti-slavery and anti-black beliefs, were often justified as a reaction to fears of blacks instigating Native American uprisings.
The hastily constructed wartime development's social and cultural mores had little in common with Portland as a whole. Vanport's immigrants imported their particular brands of racism from throughout the country. White migrants from the South were the most vocal in opposing the degree of integration that HAP dictated for schools, buses and work sites. The Authority was largely unsympathetic to these complaints and at no time was de jure segregation imposed on any of Vanport's facilities. When police were called because black men were dancing with white women at a local event, only the white women were detained and warned that their conduct might lead to a race riot.
In law and government, de jure describes practices that are legally recognised, regardless whether the practice exists in reality. In contrast, de facto describes situations that exist in reality, even if not legally recognised. The terms are often used to contrast different scenarios: for a colloquial example, "I know that, de jure, this is supposed to be a parking lot, but now that the flood has left four feet of water here, it's a de facto swimming pool". To further explain, even if the signs around the flooded parking lot say "Parking Lot" it is "in fact" a swimming pool.
Racial segregation is the systemic separation of people into racial or other ethnic groups in daily life. It may apply to activities such as eating in a restaurant, drinking from a water fountain, using a public toilet, attending school, going to the movies, riding on a bus, or in the rental or purchase of a home or of hotel rooms. Segregation is defined by the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance as "the act by which a person separates other persons on the basis of one of the enumerated grounds without an objective and reasonable justification, in conformity with the proposed definition of discrimination. As a result, the voluntary act of separating oneself from other people on the basis of one of the enumerated grounds does not constitute segregation". According to the UN Forum on Minority Issues, "The creation and development of classes and schools providing education in minority languages should not be considered impermissible segregation, if the assignment to such classes and schools is of a voluntary nature".
HAP never had any explicit policy advocating segregation; nonetheless, for various reasons de facto segregation was the norm. Whites complained when placed near "black" areas, and segregation of Vanport by neighborhood might as well have been enforced legally. white residents quickly signed a petition demanding a reversal of the policy. Entire buildings were free in the "black" areas of town, they argued, and after opponents of the integration plan appeared at a HAP meeting the authority decided to resume its previous policies.Only in 1944 were complaints raised about the segregation situation in the city. Reacting to the criticism—and pressure from Eleanor Roosevelt—by April 1944, HAP began placing incoming blacks into the "white" areas of the settlement. However, word quickly spread and 63
The unprecedented level of integration and lack of any major racial incidents or severe tensions did not mean there were no problems. Black/white tensions were still a part of Vanport life as well as a problem in relating to Portland. A 1943–44 study published in the American Sociological Review indicates that the top five complaints from Vanport residents included "negroes and whites in same neighborhood", "negroes and whites in same school", and "discrimination against Vanport people by Portlanders".
Although some of Portland's blacks lived in 53 of the city's 60 census tracts before the war, about half were concentrated in two tracts east of the Willamette River and north of the east–west centerline of the city. After the war, much of Portland's black community remained centered in northeastern parts of the city.
The Vanport Flood parallels the more recent Hurricane Katrina disaster in New Orleans. In both cases, public officials led the population to believe that the damage would be slight, and in both cases the government response to the disaster was harshly criticized. Critics attributed the poor response, in both cases, to racist attitudes on the part of officials, who pointedly neglected to respond appropriately to the destruction of predominately black communities. However, many dispute the role of racism, pointing to the transformation of Vanport by the influx of World War II veterans and their families and official commitment to the area shown by the establishment at Vanport of the only state college in the greater Portland metropolitan area.
Vanport was especially vulnerable to flooding, since it was built on reclaimed lowlands along the Columbia River. The Columbia Basin is a massive area encompassing seven U.S. states and British Columbia, Canada. The previous winter snowpack was 75 to 135% of normal. Above normal temperatures accompanied two major rainstorms May 19 to 23, 1948, and again May 26 to 29. 15 feet (4.6 m) below the water level in the river.Rainfall combined with melt water swelled the many tributaries feeding the Columbia in the days prior to the flood, creating high water levels not seen since the record flood of 1894. The lowest point in Vanport was about
A radio alert was issued the night before the flood, and some residents moved their belongings into attics and upper floors. Few imagined the possible extent to which the water levels would rise. Another contributing factor to the lack of voluntary evacuation was the fact that many residents relied solely on public transportation.
On the morning of Memorial Day, May 30, 1948, the Housing Authority of Portland issued the following statement: "Remember: Dikes are safe at present. You will be warned if necessary. You will have time to leave. Don't get excited."
At about 4:17 p.m. the Spokane, Portland and Seattle Railway berm burst, sending a 10-foot (3 m) wall of water into the area of Vanport College. According to a historical marker, the break happened at an old railroad cut that had been filled in. Because of the numerous sloughs and backwaters in the area, the progress of the flood was delayed about 30 minutes, giving residents more time to escape.
An emergency siren began to sound shortly after the initial breach, and residents began to head up North Denver Avenue to higher ground.
At the time of the flood, the population of Vanport was down to about 18,500 people. Because of the holiday, many residents were away from their homes for the day. These factors contributed to the low loss of life: there were only 15 deaths. Nonetheless, the city was a complete loss.
On June 11, 1948, President Harry S Truman flew to Portland to examine the damage.The recovery effort was assisted by Vanport College and the Red Cross.
Vanport led Portland and Oregon in integrating blacks. "The first black teachers and policemen in the state were hired in Vanport during the war years".One of those black teachers, Martha Jordan, later became the first black teacher hired by Portland Public Schools.
Vanport's destruction eased the integration of a large African-American population into North and Northeast Portland. Indeed, some black leaders argued that the flood was ultimately beneficial for the city's black community. Vanport, argued National Urban League director Lester Granger, was a "nasty, segregated ghetto" where "negroes lived in the same patterns as they did in the South."[ citation needed ] The flood that wiped out the district, he continued, was a benefit in that it allowed blacks to further integrate into Portland's society.
To prevent future incidents, Congress enacted the Flood Control Act of 1950 which spawned projects such as the Priest Rapids Dam. The flood also resulted in the 1961 Columbia River Treaty and later the construction of Libby Dam in Montana.
The loss of Vanport is considered a factor in the eventual closing of the Jantzen Beach Amusement Park on Hayden Island.Several acres of the former city became "West Delta Park" which is now the Portland International Raceway. The Vanport Extension Center refused to close after the flood disaster and quickly reopened in downtown Portland. Dubbed by a national magazine "The College that Wouldn't Die," it became present-day Portland State University.
Oaks Park is a small amusement park located 3.5 miles (5.6 km) south of downtown Portland, Oregon, United States. The park opened in May 1905 and is one of the oldest continually operating amusement parks in the country.
Portland International Raceway (PIR) is a motorsport facility in Portland in the U.S. state of Oregon. It is part of the Delta Park complex on the former site of Vanport, just south of the Columbia River. It lies west of a light rail station and less than a mile west of Interstate 5.
Delta Park/Vanport is a light rail station on the MAX Yellow Line in Portland, Oregon. It is the 9th stop northbound on the Interstate MAX extension and is in the area of Delta Park, formerly the site of the city of Vanport. It is located between Portland International Raceway on the west and Interstate 5 on the east and is at the north end of the Vanport Bridge, which spans the Columbia Slough and an industrial area.
Kenton is a neighborhood in the north section of Portland, Oregon, United States. The neighborhood was originally a company town founded in 1911 for the Swift Meat Packing Company.
Jantzen Beach Amusement Park was a popular amusement park from 1928 to 1970 in Portland, Oregon, on Hayden Island in the middle of the Columbia River. "The Coney Island of the West" opened on May 26, 1928 as the largest amusement park in the nation, covering over 123 acres (50 ha) at the northern tip of Portland.
There are five sections of Portland, Oregon, though a sixth is planned, and 95 officially recognized neighborhoods, each of which is represented by a volunteer-based neighborhood association. These associations serve as the liaison between residents and the city government, as coordinated by the city's Office of Community & Civic Life, which was created in 1974 and known as the Office of Neighborhood Involvement until July 2018. The city subsequently provides funding to this "network of neighborhoods" through district coalitions, which are groupings of neighborhood associations. On June 6, 2018, Portland City Council voted to add a sixth section to Portland; it will be called South Portland and the transition to the new system is expected to start in May 2020.
Oregon Shipbuilding Corporation was a World War II emergency shipyard located along the Willamette River in Portland, Oregon, United States. The shipyard built nearly 600 Liberty and Victory ships between 1941 and 1945 under the Emergency Shipbuilding program. It was closed after the war ended.
Guild's Lake was historically a flood-prone lowland near the confluence of Balch Creek with the Willamette River in the U.S. state of Oregon. Indigenous Multnomah people established villages on nearby Sauvie Island but not in the swampy area along the Balch Creek side of the river in what later became northwest Portland. The lake was at an elevation of 33 feet (10 m) above sea level between what later became Northwest Saint Helens Road and Northwest Yeon Street, slightly west of Northwest 35th Avenue in the Northwest Industrial district of Portland.
The Columbia Slough is a narrow waterway, about 19 miles (31 km) long, in the floodplain of the Columbia River in the U.S. state of Oregon. From its source in the Portland suburb of Fairview, the Columbia Slough meanders west through Gresham and Portland to the Willamette River, about 1 mile (1.6 km) from the Willamette's confluence with the Columbia. It is a remnant of the historic wetlands between the mouths of the Sandy River to the east and the Willamette River to the west. Levees surround much of the main slough as well as many side sloughs, detached sloughs, and nearby lakes. Drainage district employees control water flows with pumps and floodgates. Tidal fluctuations cause reverse flow on the lower slough.
Delta Park is a public municipal park complex in north Portland in the U.S. state of Oregon. It straddles Interstate 5, between the Columbia Slough on the south and the Columbia River on the north. The section east of the Interstate is known as East Delta Park, and to the west is West Delta Park. The latter area was formerly known as the city of Vanport, created during World War II to house shipbuilders and destroyed by a flood in 1948.
The Christmas flood of 1964 was a major flood in the Pacific Northwest and some of Northern California between December 18, 1964, and January 7, 1965, spanning the Christmas holiday. Considered a 100-year flood, it was the worst flood in recorded history on nearly every major stream and river in coastal Northern California and one of the worst to affect the Willamette River in Oregon. It also affected parts of southwest Washington, Idaho, and Nevada. In Oregon, 17 or 18 people died as a result of the disaster, and it caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damage. The flooding on the Willamette covered 152,789 acres (61,831.5 ha). The National Weather Service rated the flood as the fifth most destructive weather event in Oregon in the 20th century. California Governor Pat Brown was quoted as saying that a flood of similar proportions could "happen only once in 1,000 years," and it was often referred to later as the Thousand Year Flood. The flood killed 19 people, heavily damaged or completely devastated at least 10 towns, destroyed all or portions of more than 20 major highway and county bridges, carried away millions of board feet of lumber and logs from mill sites, devastated thousands of acres of agricultural land, killed 4,000 head of livestock, and caused $100 million in damage in Humboldt County, California, alone.
Racial segregation in Atlanta has known main phases after the freeing of the slaves in 1865: a period of relative integration of businesses and residences; Jim Crow laws and official residential and de facto business segregation after the Atlanta Race Riot of 1906; blockbusting and black residential expansion starting in the 1950s; and gradual integration from the late 1960s onwards. A recent study conducted by Nate Silver of fivethirtyeight.com, found that Atlanta was the second most segregated city in the U.S. and the most segregated in the South.
The Vanport Library served the short-lived community of Vanport, Oregon from August 3, 1943 until the city was flooded in 1948. It had 2,500 books upon opening, 1,000 of which were loaned from Portland's Central Library.
Delta Dome was a proposed indoor sports venue in Portland, Oregon.The plans were for a 46,000 seat dome with a plexi-glass skylight and a 17,000 vehicle parking lot. Inspiration came from a similar design in Houston, Texas called the Harris County Domed Stadium which was at that time being built.
Jantzen Beach Seaplane Base was a private seaplane base and airport located on Hayden Island in Portland, Oregon. It featured a mile long landing area on the Columbia River and a 3,000 foot by 300 foot gravel runway. The park was owned and operated by the Jantzen Beach Amusement Park. When the park was converted into the Jantzen Beach SuperCenter the seaplane base and airport were removed.
The Urban League of Portland is a service, civil rights, and advocacy organization for African Americans in the Pacific Northwest region. Today, the League is a non-profit, community-based organization committed to providing opportunities and support services for education, employment, health, economic security, and quality of life.
Albina is a district of neighborhoods located in Northeast Portland, Oregon, United States. For most of the 20th century it was home to the majority of the city’s African American population. The area derives its name from Albina, Oregon, a historical American city that was consolidated into Portland in 1891. Albina includes the modern Portland neighborhoods of Eliot, Boise, Humboldt, Irvington, King, Overlook, and Piedmont.
Home Forward, established in 1941 as the Housing Authority of Portland, is a housing authority that serves Portland, Oregon, and surrounding areas in Multnomah County, Oregon, United States.
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