Jordan Lund's Commentary

Posted January 14, 2007 (user submitted)

To understand what happened at the Jantzen Beach mall you have to go all the way back to 1928.

In the early part of the 20th century the place for congregation and recreation wasn't the neighborhood mall, it was the city amusement park. Portland, Oregon had several notable places back in the day, one of the largest was the 112 acre park started by the Jantzen knitting mill (promoting Jantzen swimming suits.)

It opened in May of 1928 and ran successfully for 42 years. In 1970 the worm began to turn, amusement parks were no longer the draw they once were, and the park closed for re-development into a mall. The park was razed and from the ashes a new construct was built... the shopping mall.

Still called "Jantzen Beach", the mall opened in 1972. It was a small L-shaped affair anchored by a K-Mart at one end and a Sears at the other. The stores that populated it, when I went there in the 80s, were a litany of now defunct chains. The B. Dalton's, the Waldenbooks, the J.K. Gill's of the world.

The 1921 carousel featuring 72 wooden horses survived the destruction of the amusement park and lived on in the new mall.

22 years later, 1994, the economic realities of the world had changed again. The mall was nearly vacant, K-Mart being the last hold out. It was decided to demolish everything again and start from scratch.

Where the mall once stood is now a large parking lot surrounded by big-box retailers. The Target end of the complex has been re-built into a modern version of what was once the long part of the L shaped mall.

$500,000 was spent renovating the carousel and it still runs to this day, $1.00 per ride. It's the last piece of the original Jantzen Beach amusement park that still remains.

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