NE History

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Above: the corner of NE 30th and Killingsworth 1954 vs now.

Northeast Portland is rich with history: from hosting a large Jewish immigrant population in the early part of last century, to becoming a predominantly black enclave following an influx of black Southerners to the Kaiser shipyards during World War Two, it has always been steeped in culture and activity. After the Vanport floods in the 1940’s, which decimated thousands of homes near the shipyards, displaced black Portlanders were shuffled to the Albina area under strict, discriminatory redlining policies that made it virtually impossible for them to live anywhere else in the city. Nonetheless, the neighborhood thrived and earned the name Jumptown for its vibrant music scene that attracted the likes of Dizzy Gillespie and others to venues there. 

In recent years, as rents and home prices have soared and massive development has swept through the city, Northeast Portland has been the focal point of gentrification, with much of it concentrated in Albina and other historically black neighborhoods. For those Portlanders who are new to the city, or others that have been here a long time, it’s important to understand this history, especially as the city as a whole tries to navigate an unprecedented housing crisis, which is forcing many residents city-wide out of their communities.  

The list below is a collection of resources about the history of Inner North and Northeast Portland. To suggest resources for this page, contact communications[at]necoalition.org.

Multimedia

  • Boise Voices Oral History Project.
    “A creative collaboration between youth and elders in Northeast Portland to record the stories of how the Boise neighborhood has changed over time.”

Articles

Books

Videos

  • Albina, with Lew Frederick. KGW. 1980.
    “This documentary… is a follow up and companion documentary to the 1967 KGW special ‘Albina: Portland’s Ghetto of the Mind.’ Both look at the history and social change that was a part of life for Portland’s African American community and how the community worked for equal representation in social services and education.”
  • Albina: Portland’s Ghetto of the Mind. KGW. 1967.
    “This award winning documentary, originally aired in 1967… brought into focus the question of how the African-American citizens of Portland had historically been marginalized and how the Albina neighborhood had been overlooked by city leaders for development and educational opportunities.”
  • Local Color. OPB. 1999.
    “This documentary chronicles the little known history of racism in Oregon and the moving story of people, both black and white, who worked for civil rights.”
  • NorthEast Passage: The Inner City and the American Dream. Spencer Wolf & Cornelius Swart. 2002.
    “A feature length documentary about gentrification and affordable housing in the African American neighborhoods of Northeast Portland. Shot in the late 1990s, the film starkly contrasts city and non-profit efforts to provide affordable housing to the inner city, with the life of Nikki Williams, a black single mom struggling to survive in the ghetto. Northeast Passage paints a picture that is more than black and white. When homeowners replace renters in gentrified neighborhoods race and class lines can blur as the colors fly.” Available for purchase HERE.