Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Front & Curry Community Garden

Here are a few off-season photos of the Front & Curry Community Garden, at... ok, the address is actually Curry St. and Naito Parkway since this part of Front Avenue was renamed in 1996. The city hasn't gotten around to renaming the garden itself yet, for whatever reason. Anyway, I realize gardens aren't that photogenic in mid-January, at least in the Northern Hemisphere, but I happened to be in the neighborhood. I was fetching a pizza from Caro Amico nearby, if you must know. I guess it's mildly ironic to take photos of the neighborhood vegetable garden while loading up on pepperoni and cheese, and then crashing on the sofa to watch the Olympics.

The city parks website says the land here was acquired in 1952, but the city's community garden program didn't officially begin until the 1970s with the first one at Sewallcrest Park in SE Portland. So I'm not really sure what was here in the intervening time. If I had to guess, I'd guess it was a vacant lot left over from the Front Ave. widening circa 1940, and the city ended up with it later but never did anything with it until hippies arrived and wanted to go back to the land without leaving the big city. I'm speculating here because the historical record (by which I mean the Oregonian database) doesn't have a lot to say about the area.

The few historical items I've found, none of any particular consequence:

  • The 1892 Mayor's Message mentions there was a fire hydrant here back then, at a time when city fire hydrants were still something of a novelty.
  • Rosie the Riveter got a DUI here in March 1943.
  • An October 1946 DUI with a twist: The offender was arrested here while driving home after her husband had been arrested for a separate DUI incident a few blocks north at First & Sheridan.
  • An ugly land use conflict in August 1958: A landowner right around here was trying to appeal the denial of a zoning change, which led her realtor representative to go off on a two hour angry conspiracy-laden rant in front of the city council. Councillors stated they generally favored the landowner's position but were quite put off by her representative's manner. I haven't found a follow up article stating what the council eventually decided, though all the buildings here look heavily pre-1958 so I would guess the proposal didn't go through.
  • The one and only mention of the garden, in a March 1979 article about community garden sites. It's just describes as an unnamed lot at SW Front & Curry, so I'm guessing it was new at the time.

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