Welcome to Jumptown!

On the other side of the tracks, in a neighborhood we call "Blogtown," Sarah Mirk of the Portland Mirkury recently posted two stories about the Blazers' vision for the Rose Quarter. The first describes (and provides links to) a proposed Memorandum of Understanding defining how the City Council, the Portland Development Commission and Portland Arena Management (a.k.a. Paul Allen) will work together to redevelop the district.

The second provides an excerpt of the Blazers's vision to transform the Rose Quarter into “Jumptown” -- a sports and entertainment district:
Jumptown: Portland's Rec Room will be a world-class mixed-use sports and entertainment district in one of Portland's most vibrant neighborhoods. We envision a community gathering place at the intersection of sports, music and entertainment, one that pays homage to the rich musical heritage of Portland's eastside... It will embody the best of Portland's cultural past, present and future through live music events, a variety of residential, hotel and office space, diverse retail and restaurant amenities and a one-of-a-kind Nike interactive experience.”

We’ll get to a serious discussion of what all this means in future posts. While you're holding your breath for that, here are my "top of the head" reactions:

(1) Excuse me, but I don't see anything about "sustainability" in that statement. And this is supposed to reflect Portland values?

(2) As I've been writing this post, I keep typing "Jumpstreet" instead of "Jumptown." What's that about?

(3) I swear to God that I just realized that "Jumptown" rhymes with "Stumptown."

(4) And now I’ve discovered that “Jumptown” was the nickname for a neighborhood in N.E. Portland that was bulldozed as part of urban revitalization efforts such as building the Memorial Coliseum.

In his book “Jumptown: The Golden Years of Portland Jazz 1942-1957,” Robert Dietsche writes about “The Dude Ranch” – a club located in what is now called the Leftbank Building. While “Dude Ranch” may sound totally gay today, Dietsch describes it as one of the hottest jazz clubs in Portland, and one of many such clubs in the Williams Avenue District, the center of African-American business in Portland. He writes that the neighborhood was a place one could find jazz twenty-four hours a day. One could look up Williams Avenue "past the chili parlors, past the barbecue joints, the beauty salons, all the way to Broadway, and see hundreds of people dressed up as if they were going to a fashion show. It could be four in the morning. It didn’t matter; this was one of those streets that never slept.”

So that's pretty interesting, though I don't believe that one could hear jazz being played (or "blown" at the cats would say) twenty-four hours a day. People always say that kind of thing, but it's rarely true. Imagine a rainy Tuesday morning in the winter of 1953 between 7:30 a.m. and, let's say 10:00 a.m.. You think anyone was blowing a sax then? If so, I'll bet someone else was walking out of a chili parlor shouting, "Give it a rest Jazzbo! Some of us have day jobs!" I'm just saying that historical accuracy is important.

Sometime in the near future, Culture Shock will analyze the political and business implications of this issue. We'll thoroughly examine the history of the neighborhood. After that, we'll dissect the urban design implications. Until then, let's poke fun at the Blazers' vision statement by reimagining it as a press conference:

Q: Can you describe what class of place Jumptown will be?

A: It will be world-class, of course.

Q: World-class like Amsterdam? Or more like Pyong Yang?

A: We're thinking more like Amsterdam, Paris or Barcelona.

Q: Maybe a little bit of St. Louis?

A: Maybe.

Q: What kind of use will Jumptown get?

A: If we’re successful, it will be multi-use.

Q: Can you tell us more about the neighborhood?

A: As it is, or as it will be?

Q: As it will be.

A: It will be vibrant.

Q: By "vibrant," do you mean "dangerous?"

A: Not at all.

Q: Where will Jumptown be located?

A: At the intersection of sports, music and entertainment.

Q: What about arts? Do the arts intersect at Jumptown?

A: I don't know what you're talking about.

Q: What will happen at that intersection?

A: It will be a gathering place.

Q: Can you clarify?

A: It will be a community gathering place.

Q: You mentioned an homage?

A: Yes, we’ll be paying homage to Portland’s musical heritage.

Q: Can you tell us more about that heritage?

A: It’s a rich heritage.

Q: How will you pay homage to that rich heritage?

A: By embodying the best of Portland’s culture.

Q: Like Portland’s culture today?

A: Yes, but also Portland’s cultural past.

Q: Future too?

A: Yes, Jumptown will also embody Portland’s cultural future.

Q: Once you embody the cultural future, doesn’t that make it the cultural present?

A: I hadn't thought about it that way.

Q: I just blew your mind didn't I?

A: Not really.

Q: You sure?

A: Okay. Maybe a little. Can we move on?

Q: Am I asking the questions, or are you?

A: I'm sorry. Go ahead.

Q: Apology accepted. So what kind of music will Jumptown have?

A: Jumptown will have live music.

Q: Will it have live music as well as live music events?

A: I imagine you’ll see both.

Q: Is there a difference? Or is a "music event" like a "weather event?"

A: You should refer to the press release.

Q: How would you describe the other spaces in Jumptown?

A: What do you mean?

Q: Like residential, hotels and offices.

A: Oh. There will be a variety of them.

Q: Would you call them diverse?

A: Well, the restaurant and retail amenities will be diverse.

Q: Is a "retail amenity" similar to a store?

A: Yes, it’s the same thing.

Q: Can you tell us how Nike might be involved in Jumptown?

A: We hope that Jumptown will offer a Nike experience.

Q: Will that involve jumping?

A: You'll have to ask Mr. Knight about that, but I imagine jumping will be part of the experience.

Q: Can you tell us if the Nike experience will be interactive?

A: Yes.

Q: One-of-a-kind?

A: I suppose.

Q: You suppose?

A: What do you want me to say?

Q: Once again, who's asking the questions here?

A: I'm sorry. Can we wrap this up?

Q: Again with the questions?


mb said...

"One that pays homage to the rich musical heritage of Portland's eastside" has me imagining Stephen Malkmus and Colin Meloy on opposite ends of a basketball field scratching their heads and mumbling something slacker-like or ocean-adventure-literature-ish, respectively.

MightyToyCannon said...

And one will write a song with this clever rhyme:

Inside the glass box of a great Coliseum

We chant a sweet hymn and a lovely Te Deum.

MightyToyCannon said...

I've been informed that the preliminary guiding principles for Jumptown include this goal: "Best in class green building and operating practices that showcase Portland's sustainable values to the rest of the country."