- President George W. Bush is reelected; Barack Obama wins an Illinois Senate seat.
- Tsunami ravages the Indonesian coastline causing over 200,000 deaths.
- "Friendly fire" is discovered to have killed former professional football player, Pat Tillman, in Afghanistan.
- Facebook launches.
- Academy Awards: "Million Dollar Baby" (US), "The Sea Inside" (Spain). Prize-winning books: The News from Paraguay, Lily Tuck and The Known World, Edward P. Jones
Anyone approaching A. C. Gilbert's Discovery Village or Riverfront Park from Water Street has to turn in at Union Street. As one makes the turn, this is the scene in 2004. The railroad bridge had not been used for many years and the city has an opportunity to buy it for $1. The three-year option is about to close and no action had been taken.
The bridge, originally designed for passenger service across the Willamette River, opened in 1913 to connect two north-south lines: one line ran through our Salem railway station on 12th Street, the other through a station in Gerlinger, just beyond West Salem. However, by the time the long-planned bridge and trestle were finished, the automobile was beginning to be an alternative to the train for travelers. The bridge was increasingly used for freight until the 1950s when trucking supplanted commercial rail transport. Even the track leading to the bridge, along 12th Street on the east, and 2nd Street in West Salem, became disconnected as city streets were improved.
This is the situation when the vote to buy the bridge is taken at city council this year. Only seven members are present that evening to hear Mayor Taylor make a passionate plea to save this potential asset. There is opposition because of the cost and doubt of its value. The vote is 4-3 in favor.
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The bridge and trestle renovation took five years with the result seen here. Cost was borne by federal and state grants, city urban renewal funds and private donations. It opened in 2009 and was instantly popular with residents for the beauty of the walk across the river and as a handy, and safe, bicycle path for recreation and transport between home and work. The final piece of the project was encapsulating the lead paint: federal stimulus funds to Oregon Department of Transportation were used for this purpose, causing the bridge to close for seven months, much to the disappointment of Salem users, until it reopened in May of 2010. The Union Street Bridge and Trestle has won state and national awards for its engineering, utility and value as a community asset. It is an excellent example of local cultural preservation providing a wholesome, family amenity for residents while promoting valuable heritage tourism.
- In January, Bob Wells was named Interim City Manager. He was officially appointed Manager as in September. In December, Linda Norris was hired as Assistant City Manager.
|Ferry Street view of the Grand Hotel with Convention Center in background|
- The Conference Center and adjoining Phoenix Grand Hotel ( Grand Hotel) opens this year providing another important asset to our city and the downtown area. The Conference Center stands on the site of the venerable Marion Hotel, a hundred-year old establishment that burned in 1971. The lobbies of the two buildings are connected by a corridor lined with historic photographs of the former hotel. On the glass-walled landing of the steps leading to the second floor of the Conference Center, an interpretive panel describes the historic buildings of the Ferry and Commercial Street intersection visible outside.
- A proposal to create a local Library District, elect a Board of Directors, and become independent from the on-going crisis of the city's general fund, gains enough support through petition to be placed on the ballot. Volunteers feel confident after addressing local service clubs and canvassing neighborhoods for support, however the proposal is soundly defeated in the November election.
- Salem has four charter schools this year: the alternative high school downtown, popular with 300 students applying for the 30 to 40 spaces open; the Jane Goodall Environmental Magnet School, within Waldo Middle School; the West Salem Language Academy; the Optimum Learning Environment; and the Howard Street Charter School.
- In October, flu shots were in short-supply and elderly or ill residents lined up at the Marion County Department of Health on Center Street, waiting for hours at one of the two clinics.
- Salem is competing for a multi-million dollar Salvation Army community center funded by the estate of the late Joan Kroc. The Salem proposal, judged best of the nine Oregon submissions, requests $70 million, half each for the construction and later maintenance. It may include swimming pools, library, gymnasium, classrooms, theater and other amenities.
- Another project moving forward is Keizer Station. The developer is obtaining permits for construction of Target and Lowe's, the two major tenants.
- Train deaths continue with four in the same number of weeks at the Union Pacific track near downtown. None were judged to be suicides, with unawareness or a rush to beat the approaching train as likely causes.
- Sixteen soldiers with Salem ties die in the Iraq war this year. More than 1,700 National Guard are serving there with other units deployed at Guantanamo Bay and Afghanistan. Other military personnel are scheduled to depart for overseas duty in 2005.