Unpublished Article

Oregon’s Atlantis: Vanport

Credit: Fertile Ground
Credit: Fertile Ground

Currently it seems I cannot talk to people, even rational people without hearing about fucking Portlandia… Portland the “Land of Tolerance & Progress”, let me clue you people into something real quick, Portland IS:

  • One of the top 25 most expensive cities in the US to live, where the pay does not equally match up to its cost.
  • Outside of the Deep South, Portland (and Oregon in general) housed the largest thriving active chapters of the Ku Klux Klan.
  • Portland (and Oregon) only seem progressive, because Portland is progressive for whites only.
  • The only reason why a cop killing an unarmed POC (person of color) has not happened in recent news is either because the PPD really does not want to be in the news again with Ferguson like fury, or they are simply covering things up.  Both are equally likely.
  • Gentrification is very real, very very real, so fucking real in the few years I spent there as a kid, I do not even recognize parts of it because proud black neighborhoods, have been pushed out for goddamn NY and Montana fucking hipsters, preaching to the pulpit of tolerance while kicking POC in the nuts for evictions.

That said, once upon a time there was a mystical city in between Portland boundaries and the Columbia river, that was founded to provide housing mostly to black workers of the Kaiser Shipyards, as Portland at this time was actively not renting to people of color (largely African Americas). See they wanted African American ship workers because laborers where in short supply, it being war time… that said, people did not want them in their neighborhoods, because in 1940s racism was akin to breathing in the great Pacific North White West.

In 1943 the city of Vanport was bustling with around 40,000 residents and by 1946 around 15,000 of those residents African American an increase of around 13,000 from 1940. At this time Vanport was Oregon’s second largest city, second only to Portland at the time. There were a multitude of immigrants from all areas of the country bringing with it their own brand of racial intolerance, because you know it’s the 1940s and racism is akin to breathing in the Pacific North White West.  On May 30, 1948 at about 4pm, however this was all brought to an end when a 10 foot wall of water swept into the flood plains and whipped the city off the map. Because of the multitude of sloughs and waterways the flood waters were a bit delayed giving most residents ample amount of time to evacuate the Vanport area and college. Only 15 deaths occurred, but the thing that dies that day was the city itself, it was never rebuilt.

The worst part about this tragedy is few survivors remain alive today, and the cities history goes largely untold and unknown. Those that do remain are spread and organizations that survived (Vanport College, would later become Portland State University), have a funny way of telling their own version of the truth. Not all is lost and on may 10th 2015 we may start to see some of this history come alive for the first time! The North Portland Library will be hosting a screening party for materials produced during the 2014 Vanport Multimedia Project from 3:00pm – 4:30pm.

The NikoVash Empire’s own Cisco Kidd will be going to hear stories and gather data on the event. The even is free and those in the area are strongly encouraged to go! Lets try and prevent the only memories of this city from being this:

Credit: brx0
Credit: brx0

The North Portland Library
512 N Killingsworth Street
Portland, OR 97217

(503) 988-5394



~Kojack Vasquexz

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