South Auditorium Urban Renewal Area

The top photo shows houses that were typical of the South Auditorium Urban Renewal Area in 1962 and was intended to show the dilapidated state of the area. Most residents were older Jewish and Italian immigrants but also was home to Chinese, Greek and Irish residents.

The bottom photo from 1950 shows the area, bordered by SW Market and Arthur Streets, Harbor Drive and Fourth Avenue. The Auditorium is the full-block building at top center. At least 349 lots were acquired, 1,573 residents, including 336 families, and 289 businesses were relocated. 445 buildings were demolished. Compare this photo with the post-demolition aerial photo from 1964.

(City of Portland Archives)

(City of Portland Archives)

15 thoughts on “South Auditorium Urban Renewal Area

  1. Thanks for posting this. So THAT’S what it looked like pre-urban renewal. Fortunately the destruction ended at SW Arthur & the neighboring Lair Hill area remains. I lived on Whitaker & Barbur in an old house owned by an old Italian immigrant. She had a nice garden she used to grow all of her vegetables in – including a large old fig tree.

  2. Not to toot our horn too loudly, but thanks to a grant from Oregon Humanities, the Architectural Heritage Center is developing a South Portland urban renewal exhibit – set to open in early October.

  3. Thanks for the heads-up portlandpreservation, I’ll check it out! That neighborhood has become an obsession of mine lately. I’m currently looking to document the restaurants, delis, groceries, bakers, butchers, etc that once made their home in Old South Portland.

    Thanks for the pics, Dan.

    Jim nailed it in his comment above. If we had only waited a few more years, or heck even put a few dollars into rehabilitating the neighborhood back then, well those homes don’t strike me as too different from the beautiful ones still standing along SW 1st & 2nd between Arthur and Barbur, and along Corbett below the Ross Island Bridge.

  4. where was the commercial heart of this neighborhood? i’ve seen some photos of it but i’m not sure what street it was other than it being along a north-south avenue.

  5. i’d love to see an old aerial of the skidmore fountain area before it was ripped apart for harbor drive, the fire station and parking lots.

  6. Poncho, you should go back thru some of the older posts. There are a few photos of the Skidmore area pre-Front & Harbor.

  7. chuck, there are definitely many amazing photos of skidmore fountain on the older posts but i was looking more for an aerial like the one above but of the skidmore fountain area.

  8. Joan, I tried downloading images from the Portland Archive site this morning and have been unable to open them. I hope this is just a temporary problem. I just called the Archive front desk and they are looking into it. I’ll post again when they call me back.

  9. Mary at Portland Archives was very helpful. And thanks for the heads-up Joan, they were unaware of any download problems.
    We’re pretty lucky to have a great archive here in Portland!

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