1958

Voters authorize (narrowly) the creation of the Portland Development Commission. First project: clearing 56 city blocks for the South Auditorium Renewal Project. But among the new Modernist towers (and the ghosts of Portland’s first Jewish neighborhood), landscape architect Lawrence Halprin introduces “nature in the city” in the form of a metaphorical watershed comprised of three plazas: Lovejoy Fountain, Pettygrove Park, and Ira Keller Fountain (pictured).


1961

Jane Jacobs publishes The Death and Life of Great American Cities, ushering in a new school of urban planning. She critiques rationalist planning approaches, such as the urban renewal projects of Robert Moses, and begins a nationwide movement that embraces dense, mixed-use features to encourage community in cities. It becomes a bible for those who lead Portland’s downtown renaissance a decade later.










1962

Popular TV newsman Tom McCall airs the documentary Pollution in Paradise, indicting Oregon industries’ pollution of both air and water, seen here as boys fish in a sewer outflow. Against footage of pulp waste cascading into the Columbia River (broadcast as Rachel Carson’s history-changing exposé on pesticides, Silent Spring, is making headlines), McCall intones, “How far pollution marches in Oregon is a matter … of citizen responsibility, should the citizens face up to it.” Thus McCall’s image as Oregon’s environmental crusader is born, carrying the Republican to secretary of state in 1965 and governor in ’67 and ushering in Oregon’s new era of leadership in environmental stewardship.






1964

In his memoir Delights and Prejudices, James Beard (pictured), the father of American gastronomy, extols Oregon’s bounty of fresh seafood, farm goods, and berries. “No place on earth, with the exception of Paris,” he writes, “has done as much to influence my professional life.” Three decades later, his words become a mantra for the rise of Oregon cuisine.














1964

John Yeon buys a 75-acre stretch of the Columbia River’s northern shore directly across from Multnomah Falls. Over the next decade, he shapes it with bulldozer, chainsaw, and plantings into what he calls The Shire. Sculpted with a series of paths and captured views of the falls, this monumental conservaton effort is best described as an inverted English picturesque landscape, in which nature instead of architecture has become the “folly.” Upon Yeon’s death in 1994, the Shire becomes a center for Pacific Northwest landscape studies for the University of Oregon.


1966

While campaigning for governor against McCall, State Treasurer Bob Straub proposes a step beyond Olaf Laurgaard’s harbor wall (see 1920): a state-owned park along the Willamette, to be called a “greenway.” McCall wins the election but embraces the idea as his own.


1966

David Lett is the first person to plant pinot noir grapes in the Willamette Valley. Thirteen years later, the resulting wine garners top honors at the Gault-Millau French Wine Olympiades, an international competition, putting Oregon on the world’s viticulture map.


1967

In March, McCall issues an executive order to clean up the Willamette and creates a committee to study the viability of a greenway. In June, the Legislature passes the Willamette River Park System Act, authorizing $800,000 for the State Highway Commission (now the Oregon Department of Transportation) to obtain land along the Willamette River for future recreational purposes.