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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Portland in Multnomah County, Oregon — The American West (Northwest)
 

Vanport

 
 
Vanport Marker image. Click for full size.
By Paul Crumlish, August 2, 2010
1. Vanport Marker
Inscription. Within a year of the US entering World War II, more than 160,000 people moved to Portland — a city of only 360,000 — to work in Home Front industries. Industrialist Henry Kaiser's three shipyards employed the most workers. To house his employees and their families, Kaiser persuaded the US Maritime Commission in 1942 to fund the nation's largest public housing project. Within 10 months, Kaiser had built an entire community on 640 acres of low-lying farmland — Vanport.

The Very First of its Kind
Vanport soon became Oregon's second largest city. Nicknamed Kaiserville, most Vanporters lived in one-bedroom apartments. There was a library, post-office, police station, infirmary, public cafeteria, stores, and a 750-seat movie theater. While most Americans had no medical insurance, Kaiser's workers enjoyed a prepaid health plan. After the war, the plan and its doctors became the Kaiser Permanente medical and dental care program.

Swept Away
In 1948 at 4:17pm on Memorial Day, a portion of the dike surrounding Vanport was broken. The Columbia River swollen with early spring snowmelt flowed quickly into Vanport. Floodwaters 15 feet deep quickly washed Vanport away.
Residents had been assured by authorities that the dikes were holding and that they would be warned in ample time to evacuate. The break
Wide view of the Vanport Marker image. Click for full size.
By Paul Crumlish, August 2, 2010
2. Wide view of the Vanport Marker
Located at the West Delta Park, which is part of the reclaimed land of Vanport.
caught everyone, including the authorities, by surprise. Thankfully, sloughs within Vanport absorbed the initial surge, allowing approximately 40 minutes for most people to flee Vanport to higher ground along Denver Avenue. Still, 18 people lost their lives in the flood.
With an overwhelming number of displaced people, private citizens took many Vanporters into their homes. Bitterness over the lack of proper warning by the authorities resulted in court cases. Ultimately, the courts decided the Federal government could not be held responsible for a natural disaster.
 
Erected 2009 by Oregon Travel Information Council.
 
Location. 45° 35.881′ N, 122° 41.182′ W. Marker is in Portland, Oregon, in Multnomah County. Marker is on North Broadacre Road 0.1 miles west of North Expo Road. Touch for map. The marker is located at the parking area for the West Delta Park dog park. It is opposite the main entrance to Portland International Raceway. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1809 N. Broadacre Road, Portland OR 97217, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Heart of a Trading Empire (approx. 1.7 miles away in Washington); A Busy Place Is This (approx. 1.7 miles away in Washington); United States Army Arrives (approx. 1.7 miles away in Washington); Captain George Vancouver Monument (approx. 1.8 miles away in Washington); Captain George Vancouver Monument Plaza (approx. 1.8 miles away in Washington); A River of Settlers (approx. 1.8 miles away in Washington); Ilchee (approx. 2 miles away in Washington); Esther Short (approx. 2 miles away in Washington).
 
Also see . . .
1. Vanport - Oregon Travel Experience Audio Tour. (Submitted on November 25, 2010, by PaulwC3 of Northern, Virginia.)
2. Oregon History Project: The Vanport Flood & Racial Change in Portland. (Submitted on November 25, 2010, by PaulwC3 of Northern, Virginia.)
3. Oregon Historical Quarterly: Memories of the 1948 Vanport Flood. (Submitted on November 25, 2010, by PaulwC3 of Northern, Virginia.)
 
Categories. Industry & CommerceNative AmericansWar, World II
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on November 25, 2010, by PaulwC3 of Northern, Virginia. This page has been viewed 738 times since then and 53 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on November 25, 2010, by PaulwC3 of Northern, Virginia.
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