May 14th was DIVE IN day in Opal 4. As students arrived at school that day, they were sent to one of three groups to be transported back in time to hear three different flood related stories from Oregon History.
1894 – The Willamette River floods Portland’s first Chinatown
1948 – The Columbia River floods the City of Vanport
1957 – The Columbia River floods the Village of Celilo intentionally as the Dalles Dam is closed
The three groups took off in three different directions: Celilo to the back room, Vanport to the doc studio, and Chinatown to the MAX station for a walking tour of their story. Join us and experience what the students experienced that day:
Welcome to Vanport and 1942 – 1948!
First you will watch two videos. The first one is called, “Vanport: Oregon’s Lost City” and can be found at:
The second was produced by middle school students. It is called, “The Vanport Flood” and is here:
Next, please take a gallery walk of the Doc Studio. First remind each other of what a gallery walk looks and sounds like. You will find some photos and quotes on the table. Look at each photo and read each quote carefully. Take time to reflect in your writer’s notebook on what you have seen, heard, and thought. The gallery walk will be timed (15 minutes) and you will be expected to be reading and/or writing for the entire time.
Vanport: A new city built in 1942 between Vancouver, Washington (VAN) and Portland, Oregon (PORT).
During WWII, many people came to work in the Kaiser shipyards in Portland. The company built Vanport to house its employees.
Vanport was built on the Columbia River flood plain.
Vanport housed 42,000 people, 40 percent of them black, in segregated neighborhoods, but with integrated schools.
In 1948, Vanport was flooded when the Columbia River burst its banks.
Vanport was one of only two housing projects in 1942 in the Portland area that accepted any African Americans.
In 1945 the only housing open to blacks outside of federal housing projects was located in a segregated area of Portland:
The area was bounded by NE Holladay, North and NE Russell, NE Union (which became MLK Avenue in 1989) and the Willamette River.
Real estate agents in Portland would be fired if they sold houses to African Americans outside of this area. This policy stayed in place until 1952.
The first black teachers and policemen in the state were hired in Vanport during the years of World War II.
Vanport became part of the story of civil rights and African Americans in Portland, Oregon and the West.
When you have finished, please find your way to the stage in Opal 4. Make sure two of your classmates volunteer to serve snack. As you enter the stage you will be transitioning back to 2012. Feel free to discuss your adventures with your classmates.
Welcome to Celilo Falls and to time prior to and including 1957!
First you will all sit down at the computer and watch two videos. The first one is called, “See through the Water” and can be found at:
The second is called, “Echo of Water Against Rocks” and can be found at:
Next, please take a gallery walk of the Back Room. First remind each other of what a gallery walk looks and sounds like. You will find some photos and quotes on the table. Look at each photo and read each quote carefully. Take time to reflect in your writer’s notebook on what you have seen, heard, and thought. The gallery walk will be timed (15 minutes) and you will be expected to be reading and/or writing for the entire time.
Before the falls were put under water by the Dalles Dam in 1957, they were, “The Great Falls of the Columbia,” a fishing and trading location for more than 10,000 years.
On March 10, 1957 they closed the gates of the Dalles Dam to block the Columbia River.
The waters backed up behind the dam, flooding the homes and fishing grounds of Celilo Village.
It took only six hours for Celilo Falls to disappear under the waters.
Celilo Falls was a popular fishing and trading location for more than 10,000 years.
Celilo Falls was one of the oldest continuously inhabited human settlements in the Americas.
“You could hear the roar of the water from miles away. You couldn’t hear yourself down there, you had to yell to be heard.”
1805 Lewis and Clark came through and called it
“The Great Falls of the Columbia”
Celilo Falls was the commercial, cultural, and religious gathering place of tribal people.
Salmon was important to the people who lived along the Columbia.
Salmon meant diet, culture, and a way of life.
They fished with long handled dip nets and wooden scaffolds
The Dalles Dam will harness the “wasted power of the Columbia.”
Hydropower is necessary for progress.
All Americans benefit from hydropower generated electricity.
The tribes vigorously opposed the building of the dam, but to no avail.
In 2003 tribal leaders agreed to a $12.5 million settlement, the largest cultural reparation settlement in US history.
The Creator created the falls.
The Creator wants it back.
– Gordon Bettles, Former Celilo Resident
When you have finished, please find your way to the stage in Opal 4. As you enter the stage you will be transitioning back to 2012. Feel free to discuss your adventures with your classmates.
Diving into the story of Portland’s Chinatown was harder to arrange than the other two. The standard internet and YouTube searches did not yield the plethora of hits that the searches for Vanport flood and Celilo Falls did. I read one book on the subject and found two zines on the library shelves.
In my searching for other media and materials on Chinatown, the amazing Multnomah County Library website sent me to the Old Town / Chinatown Neighborhood Association website. There they touted a PDX Pedicab tour of their neighborhood. I phoned the people at PDX Pedicab, and they told me that, yes, there used to be a tour of Old Town / Chinatown, but it wasn’t so popular, so they didn’t give it anymore. When I inquired after the whereabouts of the audio files that were created for the tour, the amazingly helpful people at PDX Pedicab said, “Come on down and you can have them!”
So, I loaded the pedicab tour on my iPod and headed out to see Old Chinatown. The students in the Chinatown group joined me for a surprise field trip walking tour of this neighborhood. Here is a summary version of the tour:
- SW 2nd and SW Washington, in front of what is now Mama Mia’s Tratoria.
Levia: Standing on this corner and looking toward the east, what do you see?
Students: The Morrison Bridge on and off ramps. A parking lot. A “Lost Dog” sign.
Levia: This was Portland’s first Chinatown. We are standing at what was the heart of it and we are looking at where the people lived, shopped and made their community.
- SW 2nd Avenue between SW Pine and SW Ash.
There is a sign on the building that says, “High Water Mark, 1894.” This flood was part of the reason Portland’s first Chinatown moved from this neighborhood. After the flood, the city decided that they wanted to develop this land, so they found a new location for Chinatown. They moved to a lovely area west of here where there was a creek and great land for planting gardens. Chinatown stayed there until 1899 when the Multnomah Amateur Athletic Club built their building there.
- W Burnside and NW 4th Avenue. The Chinatown Gate.
Levia: When do you think this gate was built?
Students: 1920? 1919?
Students: Really? It seems so old!
Levia: Let’s listen to the audio file:
So, this neighborhood, where the Classical Chinese Garden is, is what we call Chinatown. It was actually Portland’s Third Chinatown. How did it end up being here?
- On the way to our next stop we passed a big building with no tenants in it. It looked like there used to be a restaurant on the bottom floor. The students noticed that the windows were broken and there was graffiti on the walls. What happened here? We thought we were the only people out on that block that morning. As we got ready to hear the audiofile about our next stop, a woman came out of the travel agency to talk to us. She wondered if we were interested in taking Chinese language lessons at the CCBA, the building across the street, and wanted us to know that if we were interested that we should come back on Saturday and we would absolutely be welcome. Then she told us about the exchange students she organizes from China and gave me her business card in case we wanted to be part of an exchange. She also told us that most of the people who used to live here have moved to the new Asian community centered at SE 82nd and Division. So that’s where everyone is. We were so lucky to meet someone working in the neighborhood.
- NW Davis between 3rd and 4th: The CCBA, the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association. http://ccbaportland.org/us.html
Listen to the audiofile:
- NW 2nd between Couch and Davis: The Nikkei Legacy Center http://www.oregonnikkei.org/index.htm and Nihonmachi. Listen to the audiofiles:
This stop told the story of the Chinese community finding a place to reestablish itself within Portland’s then vibrant Japantown, Nihonmachi. This was our last stop on our tour, and a hard one. The story of Japanese Americans being sent to Internment camps during World War II was new to most of the students on the tour with me.
Since our Dive In day, we have been exploring our stories through the arts, through discussion and research. The class is in the process of preparing an exhibit of their work related to these stories and the synthesis thinking they have been doing about Oregon History in the last few weeks.
Families are invited to join us on
Wednesday, June 6, from 9 to 11 am
to see the exhibit and talk to the students about their work.
We hope to you see you there!