Tuesday, May 31, 2011

This is another 6x6 negative from 1970 that I never printed before.  Picture taken probably in August a few months after the Civic Auditoriums Forecourt Fountain officially opened.  It was then a very popular place to gather and cool off on a hot summer day.  It was also popular in the evening as well.  A favorite blog of mine, Vintage Portland,  has been posting some wonderful old color photographs taken around 3rd and Clay before and during the beginnings of the South Auditorium renewal project.  The photographs are high resolution scans and can be clicked on to reveal a lot of detail.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

My new 16x20 Saunders Easel

Another great find from Hollywood Camera a very pristine 16x20 Saunders Easel that my huge new Zone VI baseboard can accomodate to replace my meager 11x14 Saunders.  The price was too reasonable for me to pass up, I rarely enlarge anything over an 8x10 let alone 16x20.  A new piece of equipment also inspired me to do a little darkroom work this weekend.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Here is an interesting counterpoint from 2008 to an event celebrating the Lawrence Halperin designed fountains the centerpieces of the South Auditorium Urban Renewal Project.  Explaining the significance of the architecture to us is former Oregonian writer Randy Gragg who devoted a book on the Halperin contributions called; Where the Revolution Began "... the story of how these plazas came to be. Born of the creative experimentation and collaboration between Halprin and his wife, pioneering choreographer/dancer Anna Halprin, the Portland Open Space Sequence came to life in the unlikely setting of the city’s first scrape-and-rebuild urban renewal project. But Halprin defied the conventions of both American urban renewal and midcentury modernism, designing the kind of inviting, exuberant public space that hadn’t been seen since Renaissance Rome’s Trevi Fountain and Piazza Navonna" Yeah right.  Let us now compare and contrast.

Lovejoy Fountain

Trevi Fountain 

Pettygrove park sculpture.

Piazza Navona Sculpture
Again this is Rome.

This is Portland.

Pettygrove Park one of the Halperin designed Plazas behind the building that always reminded me of the Ministry of Love from Orwells 1984.

Pettygrove park consisted of a series of grass covered mounds which were once quite comfortable to relax on but now have evolved into weed infested dirt piles

This solid black glass building was erected in the early 1970's and one of the Skidmore Owens and Merrill apartment towers in the back. 

Pettygrove park in 1970.

1972 photograph of the office tower and apartment buildings of the South Auditorium renewal
More photographs contrasting 1970's with views of the space as it is now.  The more I read about the area the more I mourn the vibrant neighborhood that once occupied this space.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

From left to right Ira Keller first director of the PDC, Mayor Terry Schrunk, Lawrence Halperin architect of the Forecourt Fountain (now Ira Keller Fountain).

"You must burn the village to save the village"  Burning of a community for the South Auditorium Urban Renewal Project 1961.

"The only slums we have in Portland is the garbage in City Hall, the Courts, the Portland Development Commission.  When did the Portland people crown Ira C. Keller?  When was he ordained King?  Who gave him full authority to rule over the destinies of the people?"  Sign in the window of Korsuns Kosher Delicatessen protesting the South Auditorium project and Ira Keller who as the first director of the Portland Development Commission was the driving force behind it.  Here is an interesting link about what was lost.

Lovejoy Fountain 1970

Like much of the center pieces of the South Auditorium project the Lovejoy Fountain has not aged well. Popular early on the site is now a vacant and ugly space.

Forecourt Fountain 1970

Ira Keller Fountain 2011 complete with rusty patina.

                             South Auditorium Renewal District 40 years later. 

From where I work I am about 4 blocks from the Northeast corner of the South Auditorium district that was built in the 1960's replacing a "blighted" area that was composed of apartments, single dwelling homes, brick buildings left over from the 19th century and inhabited mainly by the descendents of Italian, Jewish immigrants that at the time was declared a slum and torn down, burned and replaced by a more modern and sterile public place of parks, large condos and office towers with no consideration for those who lived there.  What was lost and what was gained can now be assesed from the perspective of time.  Though I don't remember the area as it was prior to 1960 I did spend time in the area in the 70's and took some photographs of the then fairly new structures.  Lately I have been walking through the area and seeing how poorly the place is holding up and am starting to take some new photographs just with a simple digital camera and doing a little online research of what was once there and also searching out the few still standing renemants of what was left.  If one wanted to imagine how the area might have looked had it been left alone I think you could get an idea by visiting the Lair Hill Neighborhood in the shadow of "The Tram" which contains a lot of fine examples of modest wooden and brick structures from the 19th century.  They seem to be holding up much better than what replaced their unlucky siblings to the South and shows what might have been if the area had been left alone. 

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