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

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Salem in 2005

World Events
  • Hurricane Katrina devastates New Orleans.
  • London's underground transportation bombed.
  • Pope Paul dies, succeeded by Benedict XVI
A Liberty Street view of our Historic Downtown
In Salem

In 2001 our downtown, with many heritage buildings in need of repair, was successfully nominated for the National Register of Historic Places. This honor focused attention on improving the commercial health of the city core: it encouraged owners and developers to work with the city to use available funding for renovations. In 2005, restoration continued on Liberty Street, assisted by the city's "Toolbox" Grant and Loan Program using tax-increment funding from the Riverfront Downtown Urban Renewal Area. (Renewal areas are able to bond by utilizing property tax dollars resulting from increases in assessed value within the urban renewal district.) These grants and loans rehabilitate older buildings in the district such as the Adolph Block on State Street (Wild Pear, tenant), the Reed Opera House (with multiple tenants on several floors) and neighboring buildings to the south on Liberty Street. These include the former Montgomery Ward Building and the Bishop Building. The Metropolitan Store (pictured above) had been vacant for many years, but now offers commercial space on the first floor with new apartments on upper floors. This program is administered by the city's Urban Renewal Agency. This year, a new citizen group is created to advise on these investments in our historic commercial district, the Downtown Advisory Board.

When you visit
For a preview of the Downtown Historic District, a slide show is offered on SHINE. The city has also published a booklet, based on this tour, which is available through the Community Development Department of the city (depending on supply). For casual walkers, many of the historic buildings have markers, identifying the original owners and past uses. The downtown district comprises a compact seven-block area with construction dates from 1878 to 1950 with the earliest along Commercial Street. In the early 1900s, local business and professional activity moved east to High Street to meet county and state offices. At Ferry Street, south of the business establishments, there were railroad tracks and industrial plants. Since the 1970s, our Civic Center and urban parks have replaced these. To the north, the mid-20th century Salem Center development at Center Street limits the historic district. Front Street, to the west, was also industrial until the 1998 creation of Riverfront Park, A. C. Gilbert's Discovery Village and the Union Street Bridge and Trestle. Our redeveloping downtown is truly the heart of the city for the residents and a growing potential for heritage tourism.

Other events
  • The Salem Conference Center opens in February. The $32 million facility attracted events immediately and promises to add vitality to our city, particularly to downtown. It features 14 rooms, totaling almost 30,000 square feet that can be configured for any combination of convention, theater, banquet, trade show or classroom. Attached to the conference center is the Phoenix Grand Hotel (now Grand Hotel) that has 193 rooms, a restaurant and a dignified lobby that will add to the city's appeal for travelers.
  • The Marion County Courthouse, on our historic High Street, is damaged by a Keizer resident who crashes his pick-up truck through the glass entrance doors and sets fires inside the building. Wounded by police officers, he is apprehended and will stand trial for numerous charges. The courthouse is closed for several months while repairs are made. (Inside the County Clerk's office, there are several photographs of the damage and reconstruction.)
  • A man who has placed a rope around his neck stands on the outside of the Marion Street Bridge railing, threatening to jump. For 15 hours, traffic was disrupted, bringing downtown traffic to a standstill. Police are finally able to grab and pull him to safety. Questions about how to remedy traffic problems and protect public safety are subjects of heated community discussion after this incident.
  • Sprague High School became the first Salem-Keizer team to win state championships in both football and baseball in the same year.

Meier and Frank retained its familiar logo for 50 years
  • The downtown Meier and Frank department store, a feature since 1954, will lose its name in 2006. For many years owned by the May Company, it will soon carry the Macy's logo. Hundreds of past and present employees as well as city leaders gathered to celebrate the store's golden anniversary at the Elsinore Theatre. (In 2010, a plaque outside the store entrance outlined the history of the building.)
  • Bill Frey Drive is completed off Portland Road as part of the urban renewal projects in the Northgate neighborhood. It will improve traffic flow and offer access to new development, including the possible future Kroc Center.
  • Two new features are added to Riverfront Park. In April the new boat dock and overlook are completed; in October the Rotary Pavilion opens. This "front lawn" of our city continues to attract residents and visitors for casual strolling, Willamette Queen river tours and dining, children's Carousel entertainment and community cultural activities such as the annual Salem Multicultural Institute World Beat Festival.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Just a comment on your nicely done slideshows- while you rightly note the interesting Carnegie Library and Bell Telephone buildings, I see no mention of the old YWCA building which sits between them.

This was designed by the important architect Pietro Belluschi, designer of the renowned Equitable Building in Portland as well as the Portland Art Museum, Marion County Courthouse, and a number of other notable buildings around the country. It is a fine example of American Modern architecture.

Virginia Green said...

You are right! I have that building mentioned in several other places, but need to add it there. Thanks ~ we will make that addition this weekend.