Saturday, March 24, 2012

Dawson Park Expedition

Dawson City Park


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A few photos of NE Portland's Dawson Park, on Williams Ave. near Emmanuel Hospital. It's your basic small city park, with one unusual detail. The ornate cupola on the park's gazebo was salvaged from the nearby Hill Block Building, which was demolished in 1969 for an urban renewal project that was cancelled shortly thereafter.

Dawson City Park

Bulldozing ethnic neighborhoods in the name of urban renewal was standard practice here in the 1950s and 1960s, particularly the Jewish & Italian neighborhoods south of downtown Portland, and the African-American neighborhoods on the eastside, including the Russell St. business district near Dawson Park. The standard narrative is that the city became more enlightened over time and eventually decided this was a bad idea. And it's a pure, unrelated coincidence that the bulldozers stopped right when federal urban renewal money dried up during the Nixon Administration. Riiight.

Dawson City Park

Dawson Park had a bad reputation for crime and drugs during the 80s, 90s, and into the 2000s, and the city more or less neglected it right up until gentrification reached this part of town. Now that the area's become popular with young hip upscale homebuyers -- in what's surely a second amazing coincidence -- the city now has big plans to revitalize the park, starting later this year. Complete with an extra helping of super-noble liberal guilt about the whole urban renewal and neglect and gentrification thing. Sure is weird how that always takes the form of high-minded conceptual art features and avant-garde architectural concepts, and never involves improving the local schools or bringing more jobs to the area.

Dawson City Park

Dawson City Park

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