1970’s Portland Oregon – A Look Back At A Changing City In Photos And Video

Police - Historical Archival - Police Historical Archival Investigative Files - A2004-005.2536 May 11, 1970 Portland State University Strike - Woman walking through triage area.

The Portland Oregon we know today is much changed from Portland of the 1970’s.  Back then it was a contrast in conservative ways, and a growing youth culture focused on self fulfillment.  It was a time when female sportswriters were still denied entry to press boxes at Civic Stadium because of their gender, and Portland State University students protested war and the killing of college students at Kent State University.  Old buildings were being torn down to pave the way for the future, yet things like pinball machines were outlawed.  Here’s a brief look in photos and videos at what life in Portland Oregon was like in the 1970s.

A Look Back At 1970’s Portland Oregon

Portland seemed to fully embrace the 1970’s.  Portlander’s went to the disco, and adult bookstores and strip clubs sprouted up across the city, prompting the Oregonian to call Portland ‘The pornography capital of the West Coast.’  The 1970’s were also a time of physical change, as Portland began to turn into the city we know today.

The photo below shows the Fremont Bridge under construction in 1972.  The public was dissatisfied with the way the Marquam Bridge looked, so the Portland Art Commission helped design the new Fremont Bridge.  This design, modeled after the Port Mann Bridge in Vancouver BC ended up costing almost six times more than the Marquam Bridge.

1972 Fremont Bridge early construction.  Photo via portlandoregon.gov archives.

In 1971 as the bridge was under construction a six foot long crack was found along one of the girders and it costed $5.5 million dollars to repair.  The photo below shows the bridge still under construction in 1973.  The bridge opened in November of 1973 at a final cost of $82 million dollars.

1973 Fremont Bridge construction.  Photo via portlandoregon.gov archives.

Two significant events in Portland history took place in 1970.  In May of 1970 students from Portland State University and other Portlanders took to the streets to protest the war and the killing of students at Kent State University.

Police – Historical Archival – Police Historical Archival Investigative Files – A2004-005.2536 May 11, 1970 Portland State University Strike – Woman walking through triage area.

College students across the country walked out of classes and protested the deaths of four students at Kent State after 28 National Guard soldiers fired 67 rounds into the crowd.  You can get an in-depth look at what happened during the Portland protest here, including details on how several protesters at the Portland protest were injured, or a take a brief look at the incident in the short video below.

You can see a PSU student production about the events of the protest in a 30 minute video below:

In November of 1970 there was a bombing outside the Portland City Hall of the Liberty Bell replica.  The bombing is still a mystery today as the culprits are still unknown.  In 1964 a replica of the Liberty Bell was installed in the City Hall’s rotunda and rung for the first time.  On November 21st, 1970 dynamite was placed underneath the bell and detonated, destroying it.  Shards of the bell went flying, and the blast damaged City Hall’s East portico columns and shattered windows.  Here’s a photo of some of the blast damage inside city hall.

1970 Liberty Bell Bombing. City Hall Interior.  Photo via portlandoregon.gov archives.

This brief video from the Oregonian has some great photos and insight into what life was like in Portland in the 1970’s:

You can also see some video footage of Portland from the 1970’s in this video, which appears to be an educational film shown in schools:

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