SHINE is a look backward from the present to Salem's 1860 charter. In each year we have four sections: glimpses of what was happening around the world, a special event in Salem, what you see when you visit that site today, and other Salem events of interest that year.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Salem in 1951

World Events
  • People's Republic of China takes control in Lhasa, Tibet. The Dalai Lama is welcomed in India where he lives to the present.
  • Relieved of duty by President Truman, General McArthur makes an emotional farewell address, "And like the old soldier in that ballad, I now close my military career and just fade away..."
  • China enters into Korean military action. After inconclusive combat up and down the peninsula, a stalemate results in the first armistice talks.
  • 22nd Amendment to the US Constitution limits presidents to two terms. 
  • Julius and Ethel Rosenberg are convicted of espionage for the Soviet Union and given the death penalty.
  • Severe weather: avalanches in the Alps, forests are destroyed by fires in Oregon and other western states, floods in Kansas and Northern Italy,
  • This year's musical, "American in Paris", wins the Academy Award (1952). Classic US films of this year: "African Queen" and "Streetcar Named Desire". "Rashomon" (Japan) is judged best foreign film. National Book Award: Collected Stories of William Faulkner, William Faulkner. Pulitzer Prize: The Town, Conrad Richter.
Then: this site along our river was an industrial area
In Salem
Salem families are still getting their news from the radio in the living room: Salem would not have TV for another few years. The evening news broadcasts informed them about a country many had never heard of, Korea. A neighbor had been called back into service and been sent there to fight with United States Marine Corps. But not Dad, so Mom does not worry as she sends her family off to school or work into a city that is being transformed by construction projects. The largest is the new bridge across the Willamette River at Marion Street. This street, adjoining Marion Square Park, once a fine residential neighborhood surrounding Marion Square Park,  is now being sliced up for ramps that will be entrances to the bridge. One overpass was almost directly over the old Gilbert residence that had been transformed into modest apartments. The photograph above shows one of the familiar arched supports near Gilbert House at the Water Street walkway along east side of the river.
And now ~ Riverfront Park invites visitors

When you visit
Archways under the bridge, such as the one in this photograph, enhance the river scenery we enjoy while walking along Water Street north of Riverfront Park. The former A. C. Gilbert residence, almost under the bridge itself, is now the core of the Gilbert House Children's Museum for the education of children through play activities. Four other historic structures have been relocated in this complex along Water Street. These include historic structures from Capitol Street where state purchases for office buildings is transforming the neighborhood north of the capitol building.
The Marion Street Bridge is now one-way with approaches from the east side of the river: going south, cars turn right from Commercial Street; going west cars enter the bridge on Marion Street itself. The Center Street Bridge allows vehicles to travel from West Salem into the downtown area. Although the vehicle bridges do offer some pedestrian or bike lanes, it is advised to take the renovated Union Street Bridge if walking or riding a bike. Traffic across the river has always been a factor in city planning and continues to be a concern.

Other Events
  • Alfred W. Loucks becomes mayor. The auditorium of the Salem Public Library is later named for him.
  • The city is covered in three inches of snow after a surprise March snowstorm.
  • Under the sponsorship of the Baptist Church, United Gospel Mission is established to aid the homeless of the downtown area.
  • Local Rotary clubs become involved with the Willamette Scholarship Fund and the Rotary International Scholarship Fund. Since 1950, Rotary Club members adopt American Field Service students and pay travel costs.
  • The Scottish Rite Temple of the Masonic Order holds services in a new facility in the 500 block of South Commercial Street. Purchased the year before, much volunteer as well as professional labor had gone into preparing this site.
  • The third structure of the First Christian Church is erected on the 1902 church site at the southeast corner of Church and High Streets. The original sanctuary, built in 1867, was known as the "little brick church".
North Capitol Mall in 1951
  • Three of the new state buildings are complete on North Capitol Mall. Since construction began in 1937, it was known that the fourth building would have to wait until the First Presbyterian Church was moved diagonally across Winter Street. The church structure on the northeast corner of Chemeketa and Winter Streets (at right center in the photograph above), facing Chemeketa, had been erected and dedicated in 1928 on what was thought to be a permanent site. In anticipation of a move (1958-9), the church began purchasing property on the west side of Winter Street in 1946. By 1951, the Rigdon house at the southwest corner of Chemeketa and Winter Streets, had been demolished. Four more on Winter and around the corner would follow by 1963 when the church property extended around the corner onto Court Street. This signaled the end of the historic residential neighborhood of "Piety Hill" associated with the most prominent pioneer families of Salem. Its proximity to Willson Park, the capitol and Willamette University had made it a fashionable place to live, but the posh residential neighborhood was already that of Fairmount Hill.
  • A barnlike structure serves as a facility for car parking at Liberty and Ferry Streets. This is an earlier version of the current Liberty Parkade and the other covered parking facilities downtown that were created in the next twenty years to relieve the problem of parking for potential shoppers.

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