N Ross & N McMillen, 1957

This row of homes and apartments was on N. Ross Avenue where it intersected with N. McMillen Street in McMillen’s Addition. The area was eventually demolished for the Memorial Coliseum complex. McMillen’s Addition was on a diagonal grid but the intersection would be about where N. Winning Way and N. Center Ct. Street meet now.  This view looks north.

(City of Portland Archives)

9 thoughts on “N Ross & N McMillen, 1957

  1. Whenever I see street level photos in that area it strikes me that it doesn’t look like “blight,” yet that was the justification for the neighborhood’s removal. There is an interesting set of photos at the Oregon Historical Society referred to as “Crosby Street” which is a house by house view of the area. They were taken by the city, if I recall, in the 1940s, well before the area was to be slicked off. I’ve always wondered if the city did that in every neighborhood (is there a photo of my house?) or if it is evidence that the city had their eye on the area earlier than we know.

  2. I doubt that Portland is the only city to use certain expressions in order to “acquire” land and/or property for something “new & improved”! Not to get into anything “political” here, but we all know what “enhanced interrogation” really was/is, but it just sounds so much better, so much nicer than “torture” so it was easier to turn a blind eye and not feel so guilty about it. So, with that in mind, someone, armed with a thesaurus and a creative imagination can pull the wool over anyone’s eyes and before you know it, the deed is done! Money, income and investment are such great incentives too! Reminds me of an old movie, where, once it’s known that the train will be coming through the area, the land will be worth more money, so, let’s condemn the property BEFORE the news gets out, then buy it all up at a rock bottom price and we’ll make a fortune when the train does arrive!!

    Jim K

  3. Dan H, There is some interesting insight into how the city came to handle what was perceived by some as “blight” in Kimbark MacColl’s book, “The Growth of a City: Power and Politics in Portland, Oregon, 1915-1950”. If you haven’t read it, I’d highly recommend it. It explains how many decisions were made that have had a huge impact on our city today. We are paying the price for decisions and policies created by a select few who, in spite of being public servants often had serious conflicts of interest (at the least) and sometimes were involved in outright corruption. In the early days of Urban Renewal, some influential leaders were from real estate interests who generally put their personal financial gains ahead of the greater good. In fairness though, if you look at these changes in the times that they occurred, they probably seemed like good choices at the time. In the 50’s and 60’s my parents and their peers viewed the inner city as dated and not a desirable place to live. Beaverton and the newer eastern suburbs held much more appeal to most newly affluent families of that era. (My own family included- our exodus was to Mt. Scott). I think they would have been shocked if they could see into the future and know how valued the inner city would become.

  4. The decisions on how urban renewal is used, has not changed much. It is still led by the power elite in the city and the taxpayers and property owners have little say in the process.

  5. Mike and Dan,

    Another good resource is Jewel Lansing’s “Portland, People, Power and Politics.” The author was a former county and city auditor (under Bud Clark) and presents a pretty comprehensive history of local politics, mayor by mayor, council by council, from 1851 to the present.

  6. Mike & Jim- I’m a huge fan of MacColl, especially “Money, Merchants and Power” as I’m fascinated with 19th century Portland. Also Jewell Lansing’s book. I wonder if Kimbark MacColl is still alive? When I mentioned the “blight” question, it was in a sort of in a “things that make you go hmmm” way. That in reality, the neighborhood did not look so different than others in Portland, but it was easier to perceive as blight because it was a (largely) African American neighborhood.

    I am sure though that some of those decisions were made because the residential districts close in were regarded as low value, and that the burbs were where it was at. When researching the placement of the Minnesota Freeway around my neighborhood (Overlook and Arbor Lodge) I was struck by how little outcry there was from the residents to be displaced.It was much different from the later Mt Hood Freeway. There was little in the way of opposition- the experts decided where the freeway was to go, and people for the most part went along with it, – and probably happily moved further out.

  7. “The Growth of a City: Power and Politics in Portland, Oregon, 1915-1950″. If you haven’t read it, I’d highly recommend it. ”


    “Jewel Lansing’s “Portland, People, Power and Politics.”

    I’ll add them to my short list to read.

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