SHINE on Salem 150, celebrating the sesquicentennial of our city's 1860 charter, continues (and concludes) with the 2012 entry.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Salem in 1949

World Events
  • Communists establish People's Republic of China led by Mao Zedong.
  • Berlin Airlift breaks Soviet Control; Germany is divided with Communism in the east.
  • NATO is established.
  • "South Pacific" is a hit on Broadway; Milton Berle, "Kukla, Fran and Ollie" are TV stars.
In Salem
By a vote of 357 to 130, West Salem becomes a part of the city of Salem in a ceremony attended by both city councils. The original settlement had been near Rickreall Creek, with the platting of a town called Cincinnati, a later settlement was known as Eola, a thriving community for several years until the flood of 1890. The less hilly farmland north of Eola was subdivided into West Salem Addition. In 1912, Walter Gerth opened a grocery store at Gerth and Edgewater Streets; an early cannery, owned by Bruce Cunningham, became the Blue Lake Cannery. In 1913, after the completion of the railroad bridge, West Salem citizens voted to approve a city charter.
The West Salem City Hall was a Public Works project in the 1930s and an important community center. It was the location of the first Chemeketa College classes and the West Salem Branch Library in 1986. Later the small library was moved to a leased location in the shops across the street, then to Walker Middle School, and finally to the building on Glenn Creek. It remains Salem's only Branch Library.

When you visit
The former City Hall is now an office building and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Three bridges now span the Willamette River that divides the city of Salem. Marion and Center Streets have vehicle bridges (with a pedestrian lane), but the former Union Street Railroad Bridge and Trestle carry pedestrians and bikers only. Wallace Road, to the north, and Edgewater Road to the west, remain the dominant highways. In the ten years leading up to 2008, West Salem was growing as a residential area with many new subdivisions climbing the hills of former orchards. This expansion is now leveling off with less construction and new business.
The West Salem Neighborhood Association was founded in 1975. This is a unique organization in Salem as the meetings are conducted as a "town hall" and every resident present, not just a Board member, is allowed to vote on measures under consideration. This encourages a wider participation in neighborhood affairs and the meetings are well attended. Meetings are the 1st. and 3rd. Mondays of the month at 7 p.m. at Roth's IGA, 1130 Wallace Road. The public is welcome.

Other events
  • The City Council adds an eighth member to represent West Salem.This has been the number of Council members since that time. As the population grows, however, the districts for which they are elected have been altered, making them bigger.
  • The 1920s Oregon Pulp and Paper Company has grown to be the largest Salem employer (except for the state) with 600 workers. It is an important element in the lumber industry and the economy of the city, but also is the greatest polluter of the city's air.
  • The first Art Fair is conducted on the lawn of the Marion County Courthouse with 10 artists in attendance. The fair will move the next year to Willson Park and remained there until the Salem Art Association occupies Bush House in 1953. The fairs have been held in Bush's Pasture Park since that year.
Barnes Home: 1911 -1949
  • The construction of the third Oregon State building on the North Capitol Mall, the Transportation Building, begins with the demolition of residences between Chemeketa and Center, along Capitol Street. One of the most prominent was the home where the Barnes family had lived for 40 years. A family photograph taken in 1911 shows a far different scene than one taken when the house was unoccupied and waiting the wrecking ball in 1949. 

  • Students pose for a school portrait at the 1887 Washington School (formerly East School at Center and 12th Street) on the last day of school, June 1. It was the last class to be held before demolition for the construction of a Safeway store. As one of Salem's tallest buildings, it had been a favorite spot for photographers.
  • A large tombstone, estimated to weigh 400 pounds and presumably from the grave of Jason Lee or the Lee plot, found its way to the Willamette University campus in a mysterious manner.
  • The first bridge on South River Road across the Willamette River to Independence was constructed.
  • Chief of Police Frank Minto is remembered with a funeral procession through downtown streets and by the entrance to City Hall. He had served with the Salem Police Department for 26 years.
  •  By 1949 Sick's Brewery on Commercial Street is one of only two breweries in Oregon and among Salem's largest taxpayers. The building was torn down in 1955 and the Convention Center stands there today. The brewery industry was important in the days before Prohibition. 

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