♫♪♪♫ Jumptown Historical District ♫♪♪♫
“Action Central Was Williams Avenue”
Dick’s BlogDick’s Picks: Historian Researches Portland’s Jazz Age In any city of jazz importance, one street always embodies the history and spirit of its involvement.In Portland, it was Williams Avenue, the seminal location for jazz for decades. The street was the main artery of the African American community and thus played host to a fluctuating number of nightclubs on the main stem as well as on nearby branches. Jazz historian Bob Dietche acknowledges those facts and, after several years researching for a book on the subject, will discuss that history in the lecture…Portland Skanner 02-02-2000
Cathy Galbraith, Bosco-Milligan Foundation, presented a slide show that gave insight to numerous properties within the boundary that have social/cultural significance but are not on an official historic registry. Most historic designations look to the architectural significance of buildings, and leave out the socio-cultural significance. The slide show gave an idea of houses and buildings associated with African American individuals, families, businesses, institutions that are not seen as architectural gems but that do have historical/community meaning. She explained that a large number of properties have been torn down in the past for public works projects. There are many examples of transfers of properties in the area from African American ownership to other ownership. She suggested that the group create incentives to save historically, culturally, socially significant buildings. Bosco-Milligan published Cornerstones of Community: The Buildings of Portland’s African American History in February 1998 which identified 1,284 buildings associated with African-American history and that are socially and/or culturally significant.
By Jake Thomasjthomas@portlandobserver.com
Larry Miller, the president of the Portland Trail Blazers, has seen the Rose Quarter looking so desolate during his team’s off season that he felt like a tumbleweed might blow by at any minute.
Speaking before a crowd gathered at the headquarters for the Oregon Association of Minority Entrepreneurs, Miller unveiled his vision for a more active Rose Quarter: a year-round entertainment district called “Jumptown,” in tribute of a once lively African American district of Portland know for its many jazz clubs.
And it seems that the idea might get wings very soon.
Mayor Sam Adams put his sights on redeveloping the Rose Quarter since the day he took office, in hopes that it will be something more than a dead zone when the Trail Blazers aren’t playing.
But the company that the Trail Blazers have enlisted to do the development has a controversial past, with strong allegations of racism leveled against it, and the project is surrounded by questions as to whether or not it will actually benefit the community it’s intended to honor.
Since earlier this year, the Trail Blazers have been working to bring the Cordish Companies to Portland to build Jumptown. The massive Baltimore-based real estate development firm has created flashy and award-winning entertainment districts across the country.
One of the better known projects is Kansas City’s “Power & Light District,” an entertainment-oriented development that took roots from a blighted section of the Midwestern city.
But the Cordish development has steadily gotten the nickname the “Power & White District” in some quarters because of a dress code that critics say has been used to keep African Americans out of its venues.
The dress code, which has been altered after much controversy, appears to target the garb preferred by many young urban African American males, and includes items like jerseys, work boots, white t-shirts, chains, and shorts that go below the knee.
The controversy heated up earlier this month, when an African American family received the right to sue by the Missouri Commission on Human Rights, for alleged discrimination. The suit claims they were refused entry into a venue in the district for failing to meet the dress code, even though they claim they were appropriately attired.
Phillip Yelder, the administrative director of Kansas City’s Human Relations Division, said that his division has received complaints about the dress code being used to discriminate against minorities in the district. After conducting investigations, some complaints have been found to have merit, he said.
The division released a report stating that dress codes were inconsistently enforced in the district, and have been used to discriminate. The Kansas City Council has also begun regulating dress codes city wide, in response to complaints of Cordish using them to discriminate against African Americans.
“In the context of millions of visitors, there have been a handful of complaints, we take each one seriously and we can confirm that any accusations are without merit,” responsed Zed Smith, the director of asset Management for Cordish, in an e-mail.
In September, Adams convened the Rose Quarter Development Stakeholder Advisory Committee, composed of citizens who will examine submitted proposals for the Rose Quarter and settle on one next year.
The Trail Blazer’s pitch appears to be one of the most polished of the Rose Quarter redevelopment proposals. It’ll use sustainable design, and will be bike friendly. Other submitted ideas range from the installation of a roller coaster, a casino, and bamboo bicycle manufacturing facility.
The original Jumptown was an African American part of Portland, now occupied by the Rose Quarter, that was know for its many jazz clubs, like the Dude Ranch, and lively night life in the mid 20th century. For touring bands, playing Jumptown was a must, and people could be seen visiting clubs all hours of the night.
But the original Jumptown saw its demise from the construction of Memorial Coliseum, the expansion of the freeway, and other urban renewal initiatives during the late 1950s and 60s that dispersed the region’s African-American population and displaced their businesses.
Interestingly, the Trail Blazers are hoping to use urban renewal to bring back Jumptown, or at least their version that will include an array of entertainment options, like an interactive exhibit on Nike’s history.
The project will almost inevitably require some sort of public financing. Kansas City had to dip into its general fund to meet bond debt obligations. Cordish also sued the county surrounding Kansas City to lower its property taxes.
Karen Gibson, an associate professor of urban studies and planning at Portland State University said that such developments often have dubious economic development prospects.
“These types of developments create retail jobs,” said Gibson, who cautiously adds that such jobs don’t pay family wages. “I just think it’s an odd economic development strategy to pursue.”
Some Portlanders are also worried that a project meant to highlight a portion of Portland’s African American past will end up leaving them behind.
“It would be a great tragedy if the people they are trying to highlight will be prostituted in the process,” said James Posey, an African American contractor with Work Horse Construction.
Posey said that he is nervous about the involvement of Cordish, of which he has heard troubling things about.
However, he hopes that it will provide work for minorities and minority-owned subcontractors, and will serve as a model for future developments.
Faye Burch, the vice president of the Oregon chapter of the National Association of Minority Contractors, told the Portland Observer that she has been in contact with Miller about how to involve local businesses, and is optimistic about Jumptown.
But Rona Holloman-Hughes, a Kansas City attorney and organizer with Friends of Great Kansas City Area African American Skilled Trade Workers, said that she heard a familiar tune when Cordish began courting Kansas City to build the Power and Light District.
She said that Cordish claimed that they would provide employment for the area’s minorities. But when it came down to it Cordish didn’t deliver, said Holloman-Hughes.
Smith said that the district hires many African Americans in managerial positions, including its CEO. It started an incubator fund for minority-owned businesses, and insists Cordish meets or exceeds minority contracting goals.
Miller understands that such concerns exist, and insists that the Trail Blazers will be in charge of the project and responsive to community concerns.
”We would never bring anything to Portland that didn’t work for Portland,” said Miller, speaking to a crowd at the OAME center, who added that the Power & Light District created 5,000 permanent jobs.
State Rep. Lew Frederick, a Democrat who represents parts of north and northeast Portland, asked Miller what he would do to ensure that local, minority-owned businesses would be involved.
“Even though Cordish is the partner on this, we are the ones that are driving this; we are the ones that are leading this effort,” replied Miller, who strongly stated that minorities and minority-owned businesses will be involved with Jumptown. He also pointed out that the Trail Balzers exceeded the city’s goals on using minority-owned businesses.
When asked by the Portland Observer about allegations of race discrimination leveled against Cordish, he said that he felt comfortable with Cordish after having met its executives and seeing the Power and Light District.
”I don’t think that there’s anything that they’re doing that’s against what I think they should be doing,” he said. “We’re going to be the ones in the driver seat on this.”
Leftbank Project: Graceful arched windows in the western face of the Hazelwood building have captivated Portlanders for nearly a century. Moving through the gateway to North Portland from Downtown, it takes an act of will to focus on the road, resisting daydreams about all that might have transpired inside. The iconic Hazelwood building was built by Portland architect A.E. Doyle in 1923, the triangular building just touching the new garage that sat at the southern edge of the lot The Hazelwood first housed a fashionable restaurant with a bakery, creamery and confectionary above. Ten years into the life of the building, a beer parlor emerged where the restaurant had been. There were scattered years of vacancy though this early history, interspersed with occupancy by the Home Owners Improvement Co., Century Metalcraft Corporation, and St. John’s Welder Supplies. In 1945, Portland’s premier jazz club, the Dude Ranch defined a neighborhood and an era from its home at 240 N Broadway. In his book Jumptown, Robert Dietsche writes,
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“There never was and there never will be anything quite like the Dude Ranch. It was the Cotton Club, the Apollo Theater, Las Vegas, and the Wild West rolled into one. It was the shooting star in the history of Portland jazz, a meteor bursting with an array of the best Black and Tan entertainment this town has ever seen.”
Soon after the Dude Ranch closed, Mutual Wholesale Drug Co. bought the two existing buildings. In 1949 they built a 3rd structure in the ‘L’ made by the other 2, and opened connections between them. This unified the building, creating the footprint we know today. After their tenure of about 25 years, Mutual Drug left and MultiCraft Plastics moved in.
MultiCraft’s occupancy brings the building’s story into the memory of most Portlanders. Following a few years of vacancy when MultiCraft moved, a young developer was drawn to the building. While years of deferred maintenance and a neighborhood sliced up by freeway ramps presented obvious challenges, the building’s rich history as a center of industry and culture, and its location at this energetic hub were calling. With the promise of healing a once vibrant place he drew in a handful of visionaries, and together they conceived of the Leftbank Project. Today, the gathering Leftbank community writes the next chapter.
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A cruel joke of history: Today’s cultural treasures were often yesterday’s taboos, vaporized before we awakened to their value. For three decades, McElroy’s Spanish Ballroom was the pounding heart of Portland’s music scene–our Cotton Club, our Savoy, a mecca graced by Duke Ellington, John Coltrane, Dizzy Gillespie, Lionel Hampton, Louis Armstrong and Cab Calloway, a dance floor that united black and white in ways Portland had rarely seen.
Today, virtually everyone has forgotten the jazz palace that stood where the postmodern Portland Building now squats, downtown on Southwest 5th Avenue, between Madison and Main streets, from 1926 to ’59. But not Bob Dietsche. This week, the founder of Django’s Records and self-appointed Portland jazz historian delivers a lecture on McElroy’s rich history in an era few with which few Portlanders are familiar–and which some would prefer to forget.
In the 1940s and ’50s, Portland was a house divided. On the east side, Williams Avenue formed the heart of a burgeoning black community, largely attracted to lily-white Oregon by work in the shipyards during World War II. (Many blacks first settled in Vanport, a makeshift city north of Portland destroyed by flood in 1948, before moving to inner Northeast.) On the west side lived the white majority’s elite. Segregation deemed that the two should rarely meet–until the music and dancing became just too good to pass up. […]
Jumptown – Portland Jazz and the Leftbank | The Leftbank Project World-renowned architect Kenneth Yeang is designing a more than 200,000-square-foot mixed-use <Source>Sustainable Industries JumpTown brings Yeang to Portland’s yin. “JumpTown to jazz up Portland’ east side” by Michael Burnham – 10.3.05
World-renowned architect Kenneth Yeang is designing a more than 200,000-square-foot mixed-use building complex in central Portland’s Lloyd District. The Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia-based architect, who is the mastermind behind bioclimatic skyscrapers throughout the globe (see “‘Granddaddy of Green’ shares design ideas,” SIJ, June 2003), is teaming up with Portland-based SERA Architects Inc. to redevelop the JumpTown building, a former jazz club on the pie-shaped block that divides Northeast Broadway Avenue and Weidler Street. […] http://www.sustainableindustries.com/greenbuilding/1763066.html
Half a century ago, inner Northeast Portland was the undisputed hub of Oregon jazz. A vibrant music scene thrived in this urban African-American community, later sadly bulldozed to make way for urban renewal. Clubs like the Dude Ranch, Lil’ Sandy’s Chicken Coop, McClendon’s Rhythm Room, Frat Hall, The Chicken Coop and the Uptown Ballroom hosted the Jazz greats of the era. Bird, Duke, Oscar Peterson, Count Basie, and Wardell Gray performed at venues along Union, Williams, Vancouver and Mississippi avenues and jam sessions rocked into the morning hours. In his book ‘Jumptown: The Golden Years of Portland’s Jazz, 1942-1957’ Robert Diestche documents this rich musical history and reminds us how deeply our Jazz roots go here in Stumptown. Now, decades after live Jazz moved across the river to the downtown area, there are new signs of life back on the east side. In Southeast Portland the Blue Monk now has hard hitting Jazz five nights a week and Jam sessions are sprouting up again in the fertile soil of Northeast Portland. Every Tuesday night at Mississippi Pizza, Portland Jazz Jams hosts a session from 8pm ’til 10:30pm. This room features authentic NYC style pizza and an easy going atmosphere.
The newest jam session is at the club formerly known at Billy Reed’s in the Standard Dairy Building on MLK Jr. boulavard. When Billy Reed’s opened up five years ago it immediately became the most happening nightspot in Northeast Portland. There were jam sessions weekly and excellent bands the rest of the week. Unfortunately ownership changed hands several times and the club was soon reduced to a a shell of it’s former self. The once rich mix of Buppies, Yuppies, hipsters, and neighborhood old timers stayed away in droves. The food went from gourmet Northwestern cuisine to burgers and fried cheese.[…]
The Dude Ranch at 240 N. Weidler St., is the only one left after the freeway, Coliseum and an Emanuel Hospital urban renewal project obliterated Albina’s business district starting in the late 1950s. The building is being remodeled for multiple uses, including a craft brewery.Portland was racially segregated during the Williams Avenue glory years. Black patrons were not welcome at downtown venues, with the exception of McElroy’s Ballroom – on the block now occupied by the Portland Building – where Cole McElroy promoted mixed dances complete with chaperones.
– Fred Leeson;email@example.com– Blues / Jazz / Soul King Louie & Baby James PORTLAND JAZZ FESTIVAL – Blues / Jazz / Soul