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Vanport exhibit: A Story Lived. A Story Told

Oregon Historical Society, 1200 SW Park
1200 SW Park Avenue
Portland, OR 97205, US (map)



Vanport. A Story Lived. A Story Told A Vanport Mosaic “Out of The Box” exhibit

A “miracle city.” A “sociological experiment.” A “municipal monstrosity.” A “nasty ghetto.” During its short life span (1942-1948) Vanport--Oregon’s second largest city and the nation’s largest public housing project--drew national attention and conflicting opinions. For the over 40,000 people who lived there, Vanport was simply their home.

When the Columbia River flooded on May 31 of 1948, Memorial Day, the entire city was erased from the map and from much of Portland’s memory in a single day.

Mixing archival photographs and historical records with personal testimonies of former residents, this pop-up exhibit presents the multifaceted story of Vanport and its vibrant community. It is a story of migration, housing, displacement, and perseverance.

Come explore the enduring impact of this chapter in Oregon’s history.

ADMISSION: Members FREE Multnomah Co. Residents (with proof of residency) FREE Proof of Multnomah County residency can include a State Issued Identification Card, Driver's License, or Utility Bill. Library cards and TriMet passes are not valid forms of ID.

Curated by Laura Lo Forti and Greta Smith.

Made possible by the generous support of: The Oregon Community Foundation, Oregon Arts Commission, Portland State University and the Division of Global Diversity and Inclusion, Oregon Historical Society, The City of Portland, and Prosper Portland

Special thanks to: Oregon Historical Society, City of Portland Archives, Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center, Multnomah County Archives, Portland State University Special Collections and University Archives, Kaiser Permanente Heritage Resources, James S. Harrison, Oregon Black Pioneers, Kim Moreland, Thomas Robinson, Terry Baxter, Susan Barthel, Tanya March, Norman Gholston, and Peter Marsh.

Did you live in Vanport or have friends or family who did? What stories have you witnessed or heard of community life, the flood, and its aftermath? The Vanport Mosaic invites you to contribute to our on-going effort, now in its third year, to record oral histories and digitize photos and artifacts. Please contact us at info@vanportmosaic.org or 510.717.2441.

The Vanport Mosaic is a community-driven and artist-led collective, comprised of artists, historians, educators, and media makers who engage the public in remembering silenced histories of the Pacific Northwest in order to understand our present. Save the date for the Vanport Mosaic Festival 2018, May 25-28.

Vanport Mosaic
Vanport Mosaic is a collective of artists, storytellers, educators and media makers seeking to engage the public in remembering the silenced histories of the Pacific Northwest in order to better understand our present.