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Think Out Loud

Revisiting Our Town: Vanport

Pete Springer/OPB

Vanport was quickly built in the early 1940s to provide temporary housing to employees working in ship building and ship repair at the Kaiser Company shipyards in Portland and Vancouver. At its peak, the population was around 42,000.

Before Vanport was built, Oregon was home to few African Americans — only 2,565 in 1940. But Vanport provided unprecedented job and housing opportunities for blacks. By the end of the World War II, 6,000 lived in Vanport alone, drawn from all over the country.

You can link to more information when we originally broadcast this show in May, and you can check out the Our Town companion website for photos of Vanport and other cities in the series.

Did you live in Vanport or have friends or family who did? What stories have you heard of life in the town before and during the flood?

history living our town race vanport

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