Slabtown Fun Fact #15 Ramp to Nowhere off of Fremont Bridge. Where should it go?

Slabtown Fun Fact #15 Ramp to Nowhere off of Fremont Bridge.  Where should it go?
The freeway “chad”/ghost ramp is just north of St. Patrick’s Church.
This was once going to connect the Fremont Bridge to I505. (Image TLM March 2015)


PDC Slide City of Portland Archives I-505 Vision Couch School was still sharing space with MLC at the time this image was created.

Neighbors were alarmed when they noticed surveyors planning to clear away homes along the proposed route for I-505. The initial environment impact statement was four pages.  In November 13, 1970, the Oregonian reported in “Road Route Plan Aired” that J.H. Versed construction engineer for the State Highway Department’s metropolitan division estimated that the construction would start in 1973 after homes along Thurman and Vaughn Street could be acquired and demolished.  He estimated that the interstate would be completed in 1976.  A few months later in September 1971 neighborhood groups filed a class action suit seeking to prevent further acquisition of right-of-way for I-505 and I-405 that were displacing residents.


Road Map assumed I-505 a 3.17 spur was going to be built. The section is from a Portland City map above was published in 1979 by Gousha. 

Memories of Portland Development Commission’s(1) proposed Vaughn Street Urban Renewal plan were still in the recent past I-405 and I-505 would eliminate the blight that Housing Authority of Portland(2)  and others had failed to eliminate.  Thurman Street homes were being purchased to facilitate clearing a path for the 1.44-mile Portland spur.  The city planning staff estimated that 400 people and some 200 of units of housing would be impacted by the I-505 alone. Our Historic Slabtown Tour would not be possible today had this freeway been built because what little that would be left to view would be so close to a freeway that the car noise would cancel out my tour guide vocal cords. The I-505 was conceived of as a junction was conceived to run between St. Helens Road (Highway 30) to Interstate 405.  Puzzlingly one of the adverse impacts cited in the blocking of the construction of this interstate was that it would trigger an increase in land values.

If you want to learn more about the fight to stop the I-505 I recommend reading Chet Orloff’s 1991 interview with narrator Morton Paglin (link).

(1) PDC now known as Prosper Portland

(2) HAP now know as Home Forward

Fun Fact #14 Where did Slabtown Kids Learn to Swim?

Image of the pool in the basement of MLC School. The water has been drained out but the lane dividers are still attached hanging like party decorations. Part of a mural of seas creature is on the right. This is taken from the deep end of the dry pool where there was once a diving board.

Fun Fact #14 Where did Slabtown Kids Learn to Swim?

New Couch School Pool PPS Files at MLC

Answer at School. In 1914 Portland Public Schools District was making every effort to replace Portland’s wooden school structures with new fire proof school buildings.  The Old Couch School (built in 1882) was at 17th and Kerny and had a dire reputation post Small Pox (Think COVID-19 this was even prior to the Spanish Influenza).  The New Couch School in 1914, at NW 20th and Glisan was one of the early efforts to replace a wooden structure. The excavated this property went deep enough to provide for a basement swimming pool at the time they called it a swim tank.

Empty Pool 2012 TLM
There was not really a shallow end tables we dropped into the water so that non-swimmers could learn to swim (2012 TLM)