What street in NW Portland should be renamed for John Callahan?
There is no wrong answer to the Fun Fact #43 question as long as you listed an existing street in NW Portland! We propose that the block-long stretch of Westover Road between NW 23rd Place and NW 23rd Avenue be renamed “Callahan Street”. This would help maintain the alphabet experience along NW 23rd (Couch is the “C” street of the Alphabet District, renamed for Captain Couch in 1891, but it doesn’t intersect NW 23rd.)
Cartoon satirist John Callahan with his shocking red hair was the only contributor to the Willamette Week who was never edited. That does not mean that his cartoons (which first appeared in the PSU Vanguard) were not controversial—they challenged political correctness and forced viewers to re-evaluate their perception of the disabled community. Callahan, a cartoonist, artist, and musician who became a quadriplegic in an auto accident at 21, wanted people to stop walking on egg shells and start cracking eggs.
On July 19, 2018 join us at at The Legacy Good Samaritan Park (NW 21st & Lovejoy) for a free concert from 6pm-8pm. The Callahan Garden is linked to the park, explore the neighborhood with us on a tour this summer.
How did they put out fires under the stands at Vaughn Street Ball Park?
Sand was used to put out fires at the old ballpark—sand shoveled on to a fire covers the burning materials and extinguishes the fire by cutting off the supply of oxygen. With the news that the Portland Diamond Project was exploring two sites for a new major league stadium in Portland. I was enchanted that one of the proposed sites is the Esco parking lot—the site of the Vaughn Street Ball Park that was the heart of Slabtown from 1901 to 1955. Gone are the days when a home run is camouflaged behind plumes of smoke from the adjacent foundry and an outfielder prepared with a ball in his pocket can successfully fake that he has caught a fly ball!
The attractive wooden stadium (above) was closed because it was a firetrap. The fan seating eventually grew from 6,000 to 12,000, and fans even sat on the field for popular games. Fans young and old knew that the beloved groundskeeper Rocky Benevento expected them to shovel sand from conveniently located barrels to “douse” fires started by a stray cigarette among the paper wrappings and peanut shells. It is safe to say that not only will any proposed stadium lack a smoking section, but sports promoter Lynn Lashbrook has pitched rebuilding a wooden structure of high-tech cross laminated timbers that meets current fire and seismic codes (less we forget the World Series Earthquake of 1989). The really fun question will be: Can Portland economically support the Webfooters by filling the 32,000 seats for 83 home games?
How did three US Olympic hopefuls rank on the largest-ever man-made night ski-jumping structure? (in Portland, Oregon, in 1951)
The 1951 Rose Festival was building up to the 1952 Oslo Winter Olympic Games by hosting an international ski jump competition: The Golden Rose. During the summer of 1951, a 155-foot-high structure designed by engineer Peter Hostmark rose in the Portland skyline above Multnomah Stadium (today’s Providence Park). The 15-story-high structure was covered with 200 tons of snow and was intended to promote winter sports at Mt. Hood. The newspapers called it the largest man-made hill built for night ski jumping.
Among the 19-man field of A-class jumpers were three who qualified for the United States Olympics team. They hurtled down a 35-degree incline on a surface of finely ground ice to catapult high above the stadium roof in front of a crowd of 23,024 spectators. (The event proved so popular that the jump was rebuilt in 1953 to host the International Ski Jump Competition.)
The three qualifiers were:
Keith R. Wegeman (3rd)
12th place in Olso, placing best among Americans. This native of Denver started skiing at age three.
The proposal of Groundhog Day as a public holiday, and other oddities.
The beloved groundhog — the original weather prophet — is not indigenous to Oregon. The February 2 issue of the 1897 Oregonian informed readers that they would just need “to rely on weather bureaus and almanacs for information about the coming spring.”
The state’s lack of groundhogs did not prevent a 1911 state lawmaker from declaring “the second day of February to be known as Groundhog Day and enjoin the public schools of the state to observe this day by suitable exercises.” He was displeased by a bill that made Columbus Day a public holiday and the introduction (by Rep. Fouts) of St. Patrick’s Day the same day. Sadly, Groundhog Day never became a legal holiday, despite the argument that it was far more American than Columbus Day or Seventeenth Day of Ireland.
The oddest story related to Groundhog Day was a bit of western justice served up by Judge Deich. Oregon went dry in 1916 (three years before national Prohibition). On January 19, 1922, Edward Hopkins was sentenced to county jail until Groundhog Day, if on that day he had recovered from hair tonic and moonshine enough to clearly make out his own shadow. Mr. Hopkins felt that, were he not able to sober up in two weeks, it was only fair that his stay in jail be extended until spring.
The Portland Police Were Displeased with Mike Ryerson’s Escort Service.
This “escort service” was organized by Mike Ryerson when he was a display manager for Montgomery Ward department store. Seven NW Portland women had reported being raped, and the serial rapist was attacking nurses and women employed in local bars.
The anti-rape escort services with six volunteers operated only one night Saturday November 22, 1975, escorting 25 women home. Upon returning home that night Mike was intimidated by police, who were more interested in catching the rapist than keeping women safe.
In addition to working at Montgomery Ward, Mike worked for the community paper, keeping it afloat with income from the “Expose Yourself to Art” poster. The Neighbor motto: “Know Your Neighborhood, Know Your Neighbor” publication was coined for Mike Ryerson by Bud Clark in 1977. The same year Mike settled his lawsuit against the City of Portland for intimidation mostly associated with Officer Larry Kanzler’s “vile, threatening, obscene, and abusive language”. The police officer had been reprimanded by then-police-sergeant, Tom Potter. The officer was one of six that showed up at Ryerson’s house in the wee hours of the morning, and searched Mike Ryerson’s truck. Before leaving they told Ryerson to stop being a do-gooder. The police also started appearing outside at bars and social events that Mike attended.
Bud Clark and Tom Potter went on to be mayors of Portland
In 1979 Larry Kanzel was one of three officers to start a Horse Patrol in Portland. He later retired in 2008 after serving as the Police Chief of Milwaukie,
Mike Ryerson died January 6th 2015. He was active in the local activist group Don’t Shoot PDX because of his experience in the 1970s.
What is left of Slabtown’s Olympic-Sized Ice Rink?
The Portland Ice Hippodrome opened on November 9, 1914 at 20th Avenue between Marshall and Northrup Streets. The structure covered two city blocks (175 x 360 feet) and offered seating for 5,000 and surface ice for 2,500 skaters (but you might want to bring your own skates). Twenty miles of pipe kept the ice surface frozen at 12 degrees above zero and two and a half inches thick, spanning 321 feet by 85 feet. It was the greatest and largest artificial ice rink in the world when it opened and the lead instructor was James Bourke, a champion figure skater known as the “Canadian Crack Shot”, once mentored by Norval Baptie.
The remaining evidence of the massive ice skating arena is a former retaining wall (running in a jagged pattern along former party wall) painted blue just west of Marshall Manor. The cost to maintain the ice and cover the lease payments proved unsustainable for the owners. The ice rink (also known as Portland Ice Palace) reopened as Coliseum Ice in 1925, and was commonly referred to as the Marshall Street Ice Rink.
The city was never confident in the structure’s supporting system and forced it to close in the 1950s because of fire safety egress limitations.
The original cast for these bat lights is from the Mackenzie House. The Nathan Lob House (726 NW 22nd) is also has one that quite possibly is a replica. The original lamp at the Mackenzie House was a interior gas lamp. In Scottish folklore the bat is associated with witches, dark magic, sorcery and necromancy. The bat in this piece of art is the messenger between witches and the devil. Satan is often depicted in art with bat-like wings where as angles have bird-like wings.
The snake, on the other hand, is a symbol of medicine. This single snake on a rod is not the common medical symbol–the caduceus, which features two, snakes a stick and wings. This is linked to the Greek God Hermes–the rod had been a gift from Apollo and the snakes were battling and the rod was used to separate them. Doctors traveled and the walking stick was associated with itinerate medical men and Hermes the winged god was their patron saint.
Dr. Mackenzie was a Scot and a prominent physician. The lamp in the entry of his house, (615 NW 20th /2023 NW Hoyt) with the snake over the bat, depicts the triumph of medicine over the occult. A single snake on a rod it is the asklepian (the Rod of Asclepius son of Apollo). The snake that’s wrapped around the rod may symbolize rejuvenation and held by the deity of medicine and healing.
How many houses have been moved in the Alphabet Historic District?
The Morris Marks House was cut in half and moved in two parts across PSU this past weekend—that got us thinking. In early Portland moving houses was once more common—horses and oxen would pull houses set on rolling logs.
Which structures do we know were moved around in the Alphabet Historic District?
The first that comes to mind is the Captain John Brown House; it was moved from 2035 NW Everett to Couch Park in the 1970s, but that effort failed and the house was eventually demolished. Adding up structures from memory, asking Rick Michaelson, going over Mike Ryerson photo files and consulting and the Alphabet Historic District Nomination, I came up with at least ten more:
1) The Elliston Apartments (425 NW 18th, NW Portland Hostel), moved from the SW Park Blocks by oxen.
2) The Lawn Apartments (133 NW 18th Avenue, AKA George H. Williams Townhouses), moved within the same block in 1922.
3) 1731 NW Glisan(built in 1890), moved from Good Samaritan Hospital to current location in 1978.
6) 2067 NW Lovejoy(built in 1890), moved to lot in 1928. Is currently occupied by a business “A Women’s Time”.
7) 2061 NW Hoyt(built in 1884), moved from NW 17th between Kearny & Lovejoy c. 1916.
8) 621-623 NW 22nd(According to the AHD Nomination, pp. 150-51, a 1894 building on this site was demolished in 1930 and this duplex structure was moved onto the location c. 1930, the MLS and Portland Maps thinks this is the 1894 building but the State Historic Preservation Office has the Mary Shephard House as c. 1930)
9) 516 NW 18th(William H. Doran House built in 1886), moved from NW 17th Ave and NW Flanders Street in 1977 and is currently for sale. Image to left clearly shows the building upon bricks with faux tarpaper like brick exterior. This Italianate has been lovingly restored and you would not believe it to be the structure in this image.
10) 1628 NW Everett (built 1880) The image on the left taken by Mike Ryerson and a story Rick Michaeson about a house he moved to Everett getting stuck leads me to conclude this Italianate was moved despite the fact that the AHD Nomination does not indicate that Thomas & Lizzie Whalen house was ever moved.
Of course, there are also the houses/apartments moved from the 1905 Lewis & Clark World’s Fair site. Join us for our tours of Slabtown and St. Johns neighborhoods to learn more moved building stories.
The 1950s Vaughn Street Redevelopment Area’s project area included 44 blocks (35 whole blocks and 9 partial blocks details shown on map to the right). They spanned NW 18th to 27th and NW Savier to York. Three areas in the city of Portland were surveyed for urban renewal, and according to a Housing Authority of Portland report in August 1952 “the Vaughn Street area was most in need of such a plan”. Albina and South Portland were razed; Vaughn Street avoided Urban Renewal in 1952–53. While many Slabtown homes were lost to the Fremont Bridge anchors, the 1963 highway project, and the 1970s I-505 debacle, in the end rapid population growth and high land values sealed the fate of these “blighted” homes.
The Vaughn Street urban renewal area intended to maintain many commercial structures in good repair, “…but all residential structures will have to be removed because the area will be redeveloped for commercial and industrial purposes.” The redevelopment agency intended to help renters find other adequate housing within their means. Rental properties, such as the Fairmont Hotel at 26th and Upshur, would not have yet had landmark status and would have met the wrecking ball. Although the judges considered the area blighted, activist residents defeated the effort in the courts and they rallied—150 strong—and won at City Hall on May 26, 1953. Protecting the dwellings surveyed by HAP, housing 900 families (53% of whom owned their homes), the activists were described as having a “vindictive resistance toward the encroachment of industry”.
When did the largest recorded meteorite drop by Slabtown?
While the Willamette Meteorite now lives in the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, in 1905 it first came to Slabtown to be displayed at the Lewis & Clark Fair. It is believed to be the iron core of a planet that shattered in a stellar collision billions of years ago. The artifact had spiritual meaning for the indigenous people of the area. Sadly, when the Willamette Meteorite was found in 1902 by Ellis Huges (an early settler in West Linn) he started a chain of events that separated “Tomanowos” from the Clackamas people. Mr. Huges found the 15.5-ton meteorite on his neighbor’s land. After failing to purchase the adjoining parcel from the Oregon Iron and Steel Company, he dragged the meteorite ¾ of a mile over to his property, with the assistance of horses and family members—it took him 90 days. The meteorite heist was quickly prosecuted when he was brash enough to charge the public admission to see it. This significant rock had traveled from Canada or Montana some 12,000 years ago in the Missoula Floods. Its short trip to Slabtown, on a specially-built horse-drawn wagon, was barely recorded in the press at the time, owing to the number of 1905 Fair activities. It was sold by Oregon Iron and Steel to a New York socialite who donated it to the Museum in New York.
However, you don’t need to fly to the Big Apple to experience the meteorite. There are two replicas in Oregon—at the United Methodist Church in West Linn and at the University of Oregon in Eugene. A piece of the original meteorite is in the Museum of the Oregon Territory in Oregon City, and another is in the collection of the Oregon Historical Society—Executive Director Kerry Tymchuk loves to show to visitors.
From the plaque in New York: “The Clackamas named the meteorite ‘Tomanowos’. According to the traditions of the Clackamas, Tomanowos is a revered spiritual being that has healed and empowered the people of the valley since the beginning of time. The Clackamas believe that Tomanowos came to the valley as a representative of the Sky People and that a union occurred between the sky, earth, and water when it rested on the ground and collected rainwater in its basins.“