|November 6th, 1925|
|Cornelia Marvin and future husband Walter Pierce|
praising author of Oregon's sterilization law for
"preventing an increase of defectives."
(September 14th, 1926)
|The same year, in 1926 "An All-American City"|
with "no foreign element"
The language used in defending reasons for the zoning on the surface appears telling.
A little later in November of 1925 the paper said, using the term "invaded," that
The first business the commission is planning is that of zoning the city so that certain residential sections will be assured that they will not be invaded with commercial enterprises.In January of 1926, an ordinance went before Council.
The purpose of this ordinance is to halt the promiscuous construction of buildings until the zoning commission can zone the city.Here the interesting word is "promiscuous." Words like "invasion" and "promiscuous" are not innocent and the rhetoric assumes a pattern.
And a little later in January:
First action of the city zoning commission was made last night in the form of a recommendation to the council that the petition of H. C. Joy to erect a laundry in the Nob Hill district be denied....Reason was given that the vicinity is a residence district....In December of that year a different proposal for a laundry ran into trouble and one of the reasons explicitly invoked ethnicity: neighbors did not want a "little Italy." Immigrant or non-Anglo labor associated with laundries is almost certainly the subtext here. This is consistent with the coded language about "invasion" and "promiscuity." (See previous notes on the Capital City Laundry, including an ad calling out "white help.")
|New "Little Italy" warded off|
(December 21st, 1926)
A remonstrance signed by practically all of the residents in the neighborhood was sustained by the council, and [H.] Steinboch's application [for a junk yard at Front and Columbia] was denied. A resident of the district, who was on hand for the meeting, declared that there are several good houses in the neighborhood, and that several more are to be built soon. He said that the residents did not wish to have the value of their property reduced by the presence of a junk yard.
|Steinbock junk store on NE corner|
of Chemeketa and Commercial, 1915 (under the parkade today)
Note Star of David
(Salem Library Historic Photos)
|March 2nd, 1926|
|Early sign code|
February 10th, 1926
- Junk yards
- Signs and Billboards
Overall there is throughout these early notices what looks like a matrix of a desire for homogeneous ethnicity and language signalling that ethnicity was a subtext for policy and planning decisions. While there is no "smoking gun" on exclusionary intent, there is a lot of adjacent language and other "second hand" smoke. Most importantly, the zoning and planning concepts were developed during a period when exclusionary impulses were primary in popular culture and politics. It is impossible to regard these first planning and zoning schemes as wholly neutral.
We will next look at the way the Commission was proposed to be funded and its further activities, especially the mapping and classification.
* You might have registered back earlier this fall that the City of Portland had started a serious historical reckoning with the racialized subtexts and more explicit aims for planning and zoning. In September they published a pamphlet, "Historical Context of Racist Planning: A History of How Planning Segregated Portland."
For a wider perspective, a couple of years ago Richard Rothstein's book, "The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America," received a lot of notice. I have not read it, but I expect that we will see in Salem themes and actions Rothstein finds in larger metros, but shaped by Salem's smaller size and already reduced diversity.
See also here, "1920s Deed Restrictions as Precursor to Single Family Zoning."