One Street, Five Generations and Infinite Life Lessons

An abundance of history and personal stories are woven into the fabric of Portland. So, to make sure the stories are not lost as generations of our residents pass on and memories begin to fade, here is one family’s story and a bit of history with links at the end of this article to learn more.

Irene Shaw Wilson’s home at 2747 NE 7th Avenue at the corner of Graham Street. Photo from Google Maps

For many of the Black residents of Eliot, the family stories begin outside of Oregon. The great migration from 1917-1970 brought both Black and white residents of the South to states in the North, Midwest, and West. Looking for an opportunity and a better life, many people landed in Oregon during the swell of migration during WWII because of the rise of shipbuilding and other war-related industries. With the influx of people moving to Portland, the city had to find a place for all these new residents to live.

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