Talk:Vanport, Oregon

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Some Vanport survivors think article is not too accurate[edit] my intention is to read Mabens book, do some more research, and rework the article. I admit that my Mother, her siblings (my maternal aunt and two uncles), my Grandmother, and a number of other family members lived in Vanport and escaped the flood. Some of them have read the article and think it paints too bleak a picture of life there, and focuses too much on the shipyard workers as the primary residents. Of all my relatives who lived there, none of the adults were actual shipyard workers, and many of them were employed in Vanport itself.

I know I can't quote them or base my edits on their undocumented experiences, so I will use documented sources.

Any thoughts or ideas? I do not want to violate NPOV, just add more accuracy.

Mmoyer 03:50, 16 August 2006 (UTC)

Hi, I don't know much about Vanport except from what I have read and what my mom has told me (she grew up in Oregon and remembers Vanport and the 1948 floods, which affected where she lived as well), but I think it is an important part of Oregon's history and applaud any efforts to make the article better. It sounds like you already understand what to do, so I would say just look for secondary sources that back up your family's accounts, go ahead and do whatever rewriting you think necessary and cite your sources, which can go in the existing reference section. Another idea, if you're up for some work, would be to interest a historian or reporter in your family's story, get their accounts published in a secondary source, then use them as references. If there are any resources at the Oregon State Library, that might be a good place to look too. (It looks like you don't live in Oregon, so I might be able to help with that, if need be.) BTW, according to this, the in-use ({{underconstruction}}) template is supposed to be removed after 2 hours of editing inactivity, just so you know. Happy editing! Katr67 17:07, 16 August 2006 (UTC)

You might also wish to read Margaret Crawford's "Daily Life on the Home Front" in the book World War II and the American Dream: How Wartime Building Changed a Nation, edited by Donald Albrecht. This artical has some great material on Vanport and its relationship to the Kaiser Oregonship facility.Tetyler 03:08, 10 February 2007 (UTC)

Vanport's location[edit]

I'm confused about how the location of Vanport is described in this article (and the Portland, OR article). It says Vanport was "located in Multnomah County, Oregon between the contemporary Portland city boundary and the Columbia River." Since I don't know where the contemporary Portland city boundary was, I still don't know where Vanport was. Was it at Delta Park? Or what?

Sylvia A 06:47, 19 December 2006 (UTC)

Thanks for pointing that out. I believe it was where Portland International Speedway is now, near Delta Park. Katr67 15:25, 19 December 2006 (UTC)
The current City of Portland boundary includes all of the Delta Park area and most of Hayden Island (commonly known as Jantzen Beach). At the time of Vanport's existance, Portland went as far north as the Columbia Slough in places. The city of Vanport was bounded by the Columbia Slough on the South, the Columbia River on the North, and roughly where Union Avenue (present day MLK Jr. Blvd.) is on the East. I don't remember the exact West boundary (I did a school report on this WAY back), but it did include the current location of the Auto racetrack, the Expo Center, and the now wetland site where the KGW towers stood until a few years ago. The main way out to Portland was via the bridge at Denver Ave, which was the Main N/S highway in Oregon at the time (US 99W). The bridge is in the same spot now, just North of Paul Bunyan. Bryan2000 04:18, 25 December 2006 (UTC)
I guess that should be a lesson to me: when I dashed off the original article -- for the simple reason that I believed Wikipedia needed this article -- I wrote the problematical description of Vanport's location because I didn't have the precise information at hand where Portland's northern boundary lay. (However, had I waited until I found that information, the article might never have been written.) I've tried to improve my standards since. -- llywrch 02:45, 4 January 2007 (UTC)

Statement of Harold Gillis, Jan. 15, 2007

I lived in the Kenton neighborhood of Portland, as a young kid, at the time of the flood. Kenton is the most northerly part of Portland. Vanport was built by Henry Keiser during the 2d world war to house all the workers who built ships at the Keiser shipyards in Vancouver, Washington and the Swan Island facility in Portland. During the war, Vanport was Oregon's 2d largest city. But after the end of the war in 1945 many people left due to the closing of the shipyards (which, as I remember, built transport ships).

I was a caddy at Columbia Edgewater golf course, and rode my bike to the course each day during the summer. The course was east of Vanport some distance. Denver Ave. was the main road between north Portland and Vancouver. On the day of the flood I did not go to the golf course because some of the fairways had water on them, and the course was closed. The course was up river several miles. The radio reported the breaking of the dike, and scores of people were entering the Kenton neighborhood from Vanport, often with just the clothes on their backs. Most of them were negros, and were treated badly by the locals. I rode my bike down to the flood area, and Vanport was quickly becoming flooded with water. Repeated that the following day and saw the plywood houses floating away.

As an aside, there was a great amusement park between Vanport and the bridge over the Columbia River. It was called Jantzen Beach. Much of it was under water.

Vanport was not rebuilt. And some later time (I don't remember when), it became a race track.

The borders of Vanport, as shown in the Manley Maben book and the Google Earth Project are thus: North border = Columbia River Dike, Western border = the Rail Road Dike, South border = Columbia River Slough Dike, East border = Denver Ave/Hwy 99 (today it is I-5). With all due respect the Eastern border could not be Union Ave (MLK today) because Portland Meadows is just on the other side of 99. Portland Meadows Racetrack was there before Vanport, and suffered the flood as well. East of Portland Meadows was a smaller race car track, and then MLK was just east of that area. This is all visible in a flood aerial photo present in the Manley Maben book. There is a website that claims that East Delta park was the site of Vanport but this appears to be incorrect. It's a typo that should read West Delta Park. If you want to know the exact location of the buildings of Vanport, I recommend the Google Earth file available here for download. The Heron Lakes Golf Course and PIR are right on top of where the buildings were. The golf course uses part of the old sewer system to water the grass. No buildings were north of Force Lake. The NE and SW corners were left undeveloped as woodland/farmland/marsh. KGW had a radio tower NE of the town, and it was knocked down by a floating Vanport building. Today, N Force Ave connects to the road near the Expo Center, but back then there was no way out for vehicles to the north. Nor was there a vehicle exit to the south or west. Everyone seems to have driven east up Denver Ave, which caused a traffic jam, thus people abandoned their cars and fled on foot in May 1948. I think the people fleeing to Kenton went via footbridges. Maybe boats? Tsarevna (talk) 08:34, 9 August 2010 (UTC)

The outline shape of Vanport is now available on Google Map Maker — Preceding unsigned comment added by Sapms (talkcontribs) 05:24, 29 September 2012 (UTC)

Number of deaths[edit]

The beginning of this article states that there were 15 deaths. It later on goes to say 16. Which? Search4Lancer 04:06, 25 June 2007 (UTC)


Clark v. United States, (13 F.R.D. 342) is a federal case involving claims after the flood which contains a lot of details on the housing project, levies, and the flood. It would be available online through legal sites or at your local law library. Aboutmovies (talk) 09:43, 18 November 2007 (UTC)

PIR = old Vanport's streets?[edit]

I know that Portland International Raceway lies on the grounds of what was Vanport, but doesn't it actually use some of the old Vanport streets? I think I remember reading this somewhere (and that they may have not even re-paved them at first) and you can see the outline of the northern half of the modern race track in Image:Aerial view of vanport flooded.jpg. Jason McHuff (talk) 09:28, 9 January 2008 (UTC)

For starters, [1] and [2]. I'm going to try and add the info (e.g. miracle city) and a coordinates template soon. Jason McHuff (talk) 09:39, 9 January 2008 (UTC)

Columbia Villa[edit]

How does the Columbia Villa relate? Built in '42-43 for defense workers. -Pete (talk) 04:19, 21 November 2008 (UTC)

More Historical Notes[edit]

I grew up in Portland, and in the late 1960's my neighbor Clint Hoss (now deceased) told me that the public reports of the number of deaths were false. He spent the night out there trying to help, and personally saw hundreds of bodies floating in the water. I never attempted to learn more, and have no other confirmation.

I am adding a short bit of information on the Oregon Centennial in 1959 which was located at the Vanport site. My father, a building contractor, built some of the Centennial structures. I recall seeing many cement slabs which still remained from the houses that had been destroyed by the flood. --Gar37bic (talk) 01:02, 7 May 2009 (UTC)

This bit is not really fodder for the page, but it may be of interest to some. As an Oregonian, I have speculated about the 'unintended consequences' of the racialism that governed Oregon's first century. Admission to the Union in 1859 included a ban on blacks throughout the state, as part of a pre-civil war compromise in Washington DC. Thus most Oregonians growing up in the 1950's had almost no contact or experience with non-whites except for the small Chinese community, so had few pre-conceptions or habitual attitudes to unlearn. As a result, I have felt that Oregonians of my generation did not carry the baggage of history, so were more open and accepting, ready for an integrated society - contrary to the original intentions of the segregators. --Gar37bic (talk) 01:28, 7 May 2009 (UTC)

All caps[edit]

Tedder, with respect, MOS:ALLCAPS advises against using all caps even when the source uses all caps: "Avoid writing with all capitals. Reduce them to one of the other title cases." The examples in ALLCAPS include proclamations, ROE v. WADE, newspaper headlines, and other kinds of original texts that should be rendered in house style in Wikipedia articles. That's my underlying rationale for changing the quote of the statement from the Housing Authority of Portland to "Remember: Dikes are safe at present. You will be warned if necessary. You will have time to leave. Don't get excited." Finetooth (talk) 18:44, 2 July 2010 (UTC)

Thanks for the context, Finetooth. That's why I defer to you on copyediting issues Face-smile.svg At least it has a reference now. tedder (talk) 19:03, 2 July 2010 (UTC)

Flood Level[edit]

I think the current language of the article gives a false impression that the 1948 flood was the worst Columbia/Willamette River flood. It reads "In the days prior to the flood, record spring runoff caused a steep rise in the water levels to a record 23 ft (7.0 m) above flood stage." (I'm not sure why it says 7m when other resources say 8 feet.) I will change this temporarily to be more vague until a new and reliable source can be found for exact numbers and statistics. (The current source is a dead link.) The 1861 flood was many times greater, and the Great 1894 Flood holds the record for high water. Vanport's 1948 flood may be 3rd or 4th for high water. There is a marked gauge at the Water Resources Education Center in Vancouver Washington that could help settle the matter. Tsarevna (talk) 08:54, 9 August 2010 (UTC)

Unsourced race relations sentence removed[edit]

I have removed the following sentence from the Race relations section: "Despite this, racism was not broadly institutionalized among white Portlanders because the target black community was so small."

This sentence was unsourced and followed by sentence that cites a source that seems to contradict it:

"As late as 1850, extremely few Negroes resided here. The presence of these few brought a wave of special legislation aimed at the exclusion of Negroes and the restriction of their citizenship rights. The history of this area records numerous incidents of reaction against people of color. The Japanese and Chinese, as well as the Negroes, have been the objects of expulsion movements."

The following paragraph of that source (visible here) may have been the source of the confusion. However, if it is read carefully, one may understand that the author is merely saying that the black community was peaceful to the non-black community, not that the non-black community was peaceful to it.

If I have misunderstood then please inform. -kotra (talk) 05:54, 19 January 2011 (UTC)

Gendered urban design[edit]

I am surprised that this article does not include one of the most signicant historical aspects of Vanport, which is that it was the first U.S. city planned around the needs of single mothers. Kaiser requested that it be designed so that that women (whites and women of color) could work in the shipyards in 24 hour shifts. The plan included homes for single parents, centrally locaed 24 hour daycare centers (with meals for both kids and parents), and 24 hour public transportation that went from homes to the daycare and to the shipyard. More about the intelligent design of the city can be read in "Redesigning the American Dream: Gender, Housing, and Family Life" by aclaimed urban planning scholar Dolores Hayden. (talk) 04:07, 27 September 2014 (UTC) [1]

I had no idea that Vanport was single-family friendly, let alone the first such city.
The book you referenced is Redesigning the American Dream: The Future of Housing, Work and Family Life. ISBN 978-0393730944. . It is available as a protected ebook for reading-impaired people, but I don't see anyway to browse it online. If you have the book, maybe you could add a new section to the article? Certainly it would be a great addition! —EncMstr (talk) 04:53, 27 September 2014 (UTC)
    • ^ Redesigning the American Dream: Gender, Housing, and Family Life (Dolores Hayden, 1982/2002)