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Where’s My Jetpack?

I explored the U-R today; the area downtown just south of Keller Auditorium.

In the 1960s, Terry Schrunk and his trusty sidekick Ira Keller bulldozed an entire neighborhood–an historic Italian and Jewish neighborhood that has never been replaced–and built a Sixties vision of Utopia. Their Urban Renewal project was a cornerstone of their lengthy reign over Portland.

I kept expecting Michael York and Jenny Agutter to pop out from behind some monolithic corner and run for their lives through one of the abstract fountains.

Not that it isn’t lovely. Two walkways run the length of the microcosm of high-rise apartments and office buildings. Spotted by parks, benches, and fountains, there is a certain sterile appeal. I found myself wondering if it would be as deserted in the summer as it is in winter.

Still, I imagine the victorian houses and bustling businesses that once filled this area, and couldn’t help but think that it would no longer be the “slum” it was called by city officials. Considering what has happened to other historic neighborhoods in Portland, I’m betting it would have found its own way to a gentler urban renewal, and would now be a buzzing center of activity, rather than the quiet secret it is today.

1 Responses to Where’s My Jetpack?

  1. kelly says:

    Cat,
    are there pictures of this neighborhood? I’ve never even heard of it. I guess I need to brush up on my Portland history the way you have been.
    Kel