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Historic Walking Tour - Classic Irvington

For the 4th year in a row, the Irvington Community Association’s Historic Preservation Committee will be sponsoring Saturday morning walking tours of the Historic District. Two different tours are planned: the Classic Irvington tour, the same as in prior years, and a new Irvington Victorian Legacy tour.

The Classic Irvington tour focuses on the boom years from 1905 to 1929, when Irvington first became a swank retreat for the newly rich, and then evolved with changing transport technology to being a middle class and working class enclave. Some of Irvington’s most notable homes will be featured as well as lots of neighborhood lore and background on the brilliant vision of developer Elizabeth Irving, who created the
neighborhood.

The Victorian Legacy tour turns to the parts of Irvington that developed in the last decade of the Victorian 19th Century which have been buffeted by economic and social forces that swept over the country, more dramatically than any other part of the neighborhood. When streetcars first arrived at 15th and Tillamook Street in 1891, enthusiastic buyers flocked to build gingerbread-adorned homes in the newly opened Irvington tract. Then disaster struck in the form of the “Panic” of 1893, which saw fortunes destroyed, millions thrown out of work, and new construction virtually stopped throughout the country. When building resumed in the last years of the decade, the homes reflected the new economically humbled reality. By 1937, the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation maps introduced the first “red lining” in the Eliot neighborhood – just to the west of Irvington – and “yellow lined” Irvington west of 15 th Avenue. The influx of African Americans into the neighborhood in the 1940s resulting from the destruction of Vanport in the great 1948 flood, triggered ever widening red lining – encompassing fully half of the Irvington neighborhood by the 1960s.

Victorian Irvington survives in 2018, remarkably intact, but the effects of these dramatic historic forces are visible today and form the backdrop for the new “Victorian Legacy” walking tours scheduled for this summer. The tours make for a great introduction for newcomers to Irvington. Even long-time residents will learn a bit of the lore and history that help make Irvington such a special place that it qualified for the National Register of Historic Places.

Each walking tour will begin at 10am and last roughly 90 minutes on the following Saturdays in 2018:

  • June 9 – Classic Irvington
  • June 23 – Victorian Legacy
  • July 14 – Classic Irvington
  • July 28 – Victorian Legacy
  • August 11 – Classic Irvington
  • August 25 – Victorian Legacy
  • September 8 – Classic Irvington

There isn’t a specific charge for taking the Tour, but attendees will be encouraged to make a suggested donation of $10 each to the ICA’s Historic Preservation Committee, which will use the funds for its programming. Reservations are required. For reservations or questions send an email to Robert Mercer at Robert@househistorypdx.com, being sure to indicate which date you’d like to take the tour.

Earlier Event: June 28
ICA Land Use Committee Meeting