For many years, the City of Salem and Salem's Urban Renewal Agency have been working to reconnect downtown Salem with the Willamette River. This work began in 1975 by establishing an Urban Renewal Area (URA) to provide a dedicated funding source, clear goals, and objectives. This work to create a connection continues today.It's interesting, but at least from here seems like it is still too much oriented towards folks who already have an interest in urban renewal. If it is meant to be popular, it may not be written broadly enough for a general audience. But if it is meant for those who, say, are already active in neighborhood associations and some familiarity with City policy and policy-making, it's likely much more useful.
It is also possible to draw different or even counter-narratives from it.
One of the most suggestive features is an overlay of a 1961 downtown aerial map with a circa 2014 (pre-Howard Hall demolition) aerial map.
(There doesn't seem to be a way to link to an internal chapter heading. So you'd navigate to it by the sixth button/chapter on the far right-hand scrolling set-up.)
Shifting the "spyglass" north a bit, you can see the current expanse of surface parking lots.
|McGilchrist and Bligh buildings, early 1940s|
(Salem Library Historic Photos)
|Approximate same view - the Bligh's footprint is a parking lot|
You might find some other interesting things to examine.
Earlier in the narrative there's a classic expression of our fondness for "ornamental emptiness."
We like to structure our public spaces so they look pretty and are available in theory for people to enjoy, but we do not also structure business, residences, and low-traffic streets with meaningful adjacency so people actually find the spaces inviting and easy to reach. They are more ornamental than functional. Here there's OR-22 on one side and the 9-5 weekday hours of the SAIF campus on the other. A hidden stucture of car-orientation is coded into our ostensibly walkable public spaces.
As it argues for the general value of urban renewal, the larger narrative does not account for ways that the Pringle Creek Urban Renewal District was not a success.
The whole thing is worth a look. Even if the story the City is telling in it does not command 100% assent, it is nonetheless fertile, and there are other stories to tell with the material!