A Fragment of Old Portland Hangs On

The photo above was taken Wednesday. Portlanders who travel out Front Avenue as it transitions from its residential to industrial form will recognize the iconic building, which has been around for the past century or so (it's been the Dockside since '86). I apparently haven't been down that way since the Field Office development started encircling it like a grasping hand a couple years ago. It evokes scenes in Pixar's Up, where an old man refuses to let his house be bulldozed for the march of urban development. In much the same way, the Dockside owned the ground underneath its feet, and stayed put as the building rose around it.

The Dockside can claim a little piece of Oregon history as well. One night 24 years ago, the owner caught Jeff Gillooly dumping something in the Dockside's dumpster. She investigated:

Our real claim to fame was the finding of the Tonya Harding garbage that was to be the downfall of the Olympic Skater. On January 30, 1994, Kathy Peterson was emptying the garbage when she came upon several bags of trash that somebody had left in the dumpster. Upon examination of the garbage some very damaging evidence was found that led Tonya and her associates to be found guilty of the Nancy Kerrigan “club” incident. The most damaging paper that was found was an envelope with information concerning Nancy Kerrigan's practice schedule at her home rink the Tony Kent Arena. The handwriting was found to be Tonya's. She had earlier denied any involvement in the whole affair, but the garbage proved otherwise.

In the quarter-century since Gillooly dumped the evidence, the city has slowly crept up on the Dockside, but back then it was on a gritty stretch of asphalt connecting industrial sites. The Dockside served the area's working people but was otherwise a lonely outpost in a deserted stretch of city. Gillooly was looking for someplace remote, and he found it. In the meantime, the Pearl pushed north, Slabtown started to get redeveloped, and even that marginal strip of land has found new life. But to my delight, the Dockside has hung on. May it thrive for another hundred years--

Jeff Alworth1 Comment