Local Histories- Glenwood, Oregon

Between the sister cities of Eugene and Springfield, Oregon sits an unincorporated community that is neither Eugene, though its postal code is, nor Springfield, of which it is an official annexation. It’s wasteland, half trailers, half bygone industrial complex, the few hundred residents squeezed into aging trailer parks along one of the least picturesque stretches of the Willamette River. How did this come about?
It’s a story of racism, classism, and greed.
In the first hundred years of the Eugene area’s history (and much of Oregon’s) African Americans were legally barred from first residence, then land ownership and were systematically brutalized in retaliation of anyone that challenged the status quo. In the mid and late 20th Century, the area’s staunch refusal to enact or acknowledge civil rights laws was paired with vigorous segregation, particularly with respect to housing. As a result, most African Americans took up residence in Glenwood, the no-mans-land between Springfield and Eugene that would go without power, sewer, or water for decades.
In the 1990’s most of the African Americans were displaced when the City of Eugene cleared its streets of drug dealers and prostitutes, moving them into the aging shanty town, just before turning it over to Springfield to deal with. Several years ago, the cities had the Glenwood floodplain map reevaluated and updated, a process that resulted in more than half the community being placed in the actionable floodplain. Property owners had to put money into flood compliance, or sell, now nearly-worthless land to someone who could afford to. Within months, the few remaining businesses shuttered. Shortly after that? A flood of development related to the land-hungry University of Oregon.

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