The Lion Kings
On the night of July 4, a drunken teenager climbs into the lion’s pen at the Oregon Zoo and is killed by the animals. Two nights later, one of the boy’s friends returns with a rifle and fatally wounds the two lions, Caesar and Sis. The senseless act outrages Portlanders, and the zoo is instantly awash in donations to replace the two beloved animals. Attendance also surges, shooting up by 80,000 from the previous year and helping to renew the zoo’s lease on Portlanders’ hearts.
At the Water’s Edge
City planners unveil a “spectacular and far-reaching” plan to replace the four-lane Harbor Drive on Portland’s downtown waterfront with a public-use “land bank.” Lack of money—and a reluctance to displace the 30,000 cars that travel the road daily—delays the vision until May 1974, when the fantasy is realized as Governor Tom McCall Waterfront Park.
Bridgetown’s New High Bar
The first steel girders are placed on the Fremont Bridge. Over the next three years, the iconic tied-arch span—at 1,255 feet, the longest bridge in Oregon and the second longest in the world—rises across the Willamette to connect I-405 to I-5 and complete New York consultant Robert Moses’s bold freeway plan for downtown.
Reaching for the Sky
Georgia-Pacific dedicates its new international headquarters (now the Standard Insurance Center) and, at 367 feet, Portland’s tallest skyscraper to date. That record soon succumbs to the 546-foot-tall First National Center (now the Wells Fargo Center), already under construction. The city will approve three more high-rises this year.
A Matter of Choice
Abortion became legal in 1969, and the number of abortions skyrockets in the first half of 1970, totaling about 2,940 since January (about every 1 in 5 pregnancies). Although 44 hospitals in Oregon perform the procedure, battle lines are drawn, and conservative doctors are outraged.
An emergent bicycling lobby suffers an early defeat when the Oregon State Highway Division removes the sidewalk on the Willamette River Bridge near Wilsonville. “It is too bad that when many civilized countries are building
bike and pedestrian pathways, we continue
to destroy ours,” one cyclist laments.
Fighting with Fire
A Molotov cocktail flies through the door of the Selective Service office in Northeast Portland, destroying $1,600 worth of files and equipment. This is the third firebomb attack on the building since January. Two Portland members of the anti-conscription White Panther Party are eventually charged for the attack.
A Plan for a New Portland
Planner Richard Ivey begins rallying businessmen and city officials behind a major downtown renewal effort. By November, the city’s Citizen Advisory Committee begins shaping Portland’s most celebrated (and implemented) blueprint—the 1972 Downtown Plan—laying the groundwork for the shop-lined, park-dotted, pedestrian-friendly downtown we know today.