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Vanport Mosaic Honors, Confronts Past

Updated: Aug 15, 2023

5/22/2019, 7:15 a.m.

Residents of Vanport evacuate from their flooded homes on Memorial Day 1948 when a levy breach sent Columbia River waters over its banks, wiping out the entire community. Oregon Historical Society archive photo.

Opportunities to explore and confront Portland’s past and recent history of “othering ” and its tragic consequences is front and center at this year’s annual Vanport Mosaic Festival, with events taking place at various locations through June 5, including a full schedule of activities for Memorial Day at the Portland Expo Center in north Portland.

The Monday, May 27 holiday marks the anniversary of the 1948 flood that destroyed the town of Vanport, a racially integrated community that housed workers from across the country who came to the city to work in the Portland shipyards during World War II.

“The Spirit of Vanport Lives On,’ a daylong celebration on Memorial Day , will take place in the Expo Center’s Hall A, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. , highlighted by the exhibit “Vanport: A Story Lived. A Story Told” with Vanport artifacts from the Terri Johnson collection.

The day will also include on-going narrated bus tours and walking tours of historic Vanport; a screening of the film “Lost City, Living Memories: Vanport Through the Voices of its Residents” will begin at 11:30 a.m.; and a screening about the forced displacement of Japanese Americans from Portland during the war, “Oregon’s Japanese Americans: Beyond the Wire” will take place at 2 p.m.

For a schedule of all related Vanport Mosaic Festival events, visit

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