Portland Flourishes in the Forties – Our Home History
Slingshotting out of the 1930s, Portland stood poised on the brink of economic boom. With World War II dominating the global perspective until 1945, our city encountered both the pains and prosperity of wartime.
A pair of Kaiser Shipyards along the Willamette led the Portland war effort, churning out Liberty class cargo ships for Great Britain and later the United States. Despite the vessel being slighted by President Roosevelt as “a dreadful looking object,” its production ignited a serious growth spurt for us. Temporary housing sprang up to to accommodate the shipyard workers, and as a whole, Portland grew by 160,000 souls during the course of the war, reaching a population of 359,000 by its conclusion in 1945.
Picture – Top: St. John’s Shipyard – 1943. Bottom: Temp Housing for Shipyard Workers – 1942
While the opening of the Portland Airport in 1940 was a high note, the tragic flood of 1948 caused catastrophic damage to surrounding areas (prompting President Truman to fly in and survey the damage) and managed to impede foot traffic all the way up to NW 10th.
On the housing front, the approachable ranch-style home continued to thrive in the post war construction boom, as the convenience of attached garages became increasingly commonplace. A bustling economy also contributed to the the incorporation of artistic flourishes that would eventually give birth to the mid-century modern in the 1950s.