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FEATURES: Intro | the Mt. Hood freeway | city hall of fame | architexture | rhymin' rogues | some of our favorite Portlanders | 25 years of statistics | what ever happened to...| Nike's marketing muscle | The Oregonian's big oh's

1978: a line in the sand: Portland's urban growth boundary | John Stalberger: the Abner Doubleday of hacky sack


Clinton Street Theater first screens The Rocky Horror Picture Show, giving hope to a whole generation of maladjusted freaks. Defying all predictions and the laws of common sense, the Clinton Street will show the cult film every weekend until the new millennium.

Beleaguered President Jimmy Carter plies Portland voters with the promise of 9,000 new jobs and a $12 million grant for economic development. After a day of handshaking and speeches, the ex-peanut farmer unwinds with an overnight stay in a "typical Northeast Portland home."

WW calls Saturday Night Fever "ravishing and infectious."

It's hunting season on Portland jaywalkers when the Police Bureau offers a prize to the first person to nab its decoy jaybird. The hunt for the errant pedestrian is part of a monthlong educational program to prevent the dangerous practice of crossing against red lights. Once the campaign is over, warning citations turn real, and violators are fined $5.

Retail mogul Fred Meyer, who built his empire from a horse-drawn coffee wagon, dies at age 92 of a chronic heart ailment. Stores remain open at the request of the pertinacious tycoon.

For almost five decades, it was a stark monument to the Automobile Age: 10 lanes of asphalt strangling the west bank of the Willamette. But Harbor Drive is rubble now, its spell broken by the lush green grass of Waterfront Park, whose first sections open this year.

Efforts by ranking officials at the Oregon Liquor Control Commission to destroy incriminating documents lead to an awkward moment when OLCC assistant director Charles E. Miller's necktie gets stuck in a paper shredder. Gov. Bob Straub orders an investigation into the OLCC for alleged abuses including illegal investigation of private citizens.

Discrimination charges plague the Portland Public Schools. In July, the Portland district loses $450,000 in federal funding because of skimpy ESL efforts. In December, activist Herb Cawthorne charges that the district's desegregation plan is discriminatory and suggests busing white kids to black schools as well as vice-versa. Superintendent Robert Blanchard rejects two-way busing, however, and federal investigators find that Portland's policies, while biased, are technically legal.

Bus riders breathe a sigh of relief as the Transit Mall formally opens. Long after the bagpipes and bugle players have gone home, Bud Clark will unveil his famous "Expose yourself to art" poster satirizing the mall monuments, which critics deride as "sculpturally ignorant" and "sophomoric."

Hollywood promoter Tom Nash opens Key Largo in December, transporting Portland's beautiful people to sound-stage Caribbean nights.

WW readers declare The BeeGees Artist of the Year and rate as Best New Artist
a young singer-songwriter named Elvis Costello.

In the May primary election, state Sen. Vic Atiyeh wins the Republican nomination for governor, ending a comeback bid by former Gov. Tom McCall, and goes on to upset incumbent Gov. Bob Straub in November. Atiyeh's philosophy: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

The year ends in tragedy when a United DC-8 carrying 185 passengers plunges into two vacant homes and a wooded lot in east Multnomah County, killing 10 people on board. The plane, which originated in Denver, apparently lost power after circling PDX.



  Baseball has its Abner Doubleday myth, basketball its legend of Dr. James Naismith. But no one doubts who dreamed up the Hacky Sack: It was
22-year-old Clackamas resident John Stalberger, who was looking for alternative treatments for a knee injured during a pick-up football game. Stalberger began juggling--with both feet--beanbags made from handfuls of beans, rice and peas stuffed into two panels of denim sewn together. By 1978, he had a patent for a new toy. Over the next two decades, more than 50 million Hacky Sacks would be sold for more than $150 million.
Today, synthetic, 32-paneled Hacky Sacks are more commonly called footbags and are used in a sport with a governing body, the International Footbag Advisory Board. Footbagging is "not just a bunch of hippies standing on the corner with beer bottles," says Stalberger, who helped market the Thigh Master in the Northwest, among other products, and has been the president of a business and marketing consulting company in Camas, Wash., since 1995.


Born out of the utopian musings of a bunch of deep thinkers in the 1960s, the Metropolitan Service District, popularly known as Metro, is a bold experiment in regional government that has shaped Portland for better and for worse.

The agency as we know it began in May 1978, when voters passed Measure 6, which took the powers of the Columbia Regional Association of Governments, or CRAG, and consolidated them into a Metropolitan Service District.

The result was a strange beast: the only true regional government in the United States, one whose officials are directly elected by voters, with real control over planning and development. For the three counties and 24 cities in Metro's domain, the agency's control over federal highway dollars is a powerful hammer.

At first the agency inherited jobs no one else wanted, like managing the zoo and waste disposal. Following some early stumbles--attempts at a trash incinerator and a flood-control district were foiled by strident opposition--Metro's role has evolved to include planning, garbage dumps, recycling, regional parks and the Oregon Convention Center, and the agency boasts an annual budget of nearly $400 million.

But of all its sundry pursuits, Metro is best known for drawing a line on a map.

In 1979, Metro drew the nation's first urban growth boundary, or UGB. It was intended to contain development, protect surrounding rural areas from sprawl and encourage a vital urban core.

Nowhere is the UGB more evident than along Springville Road in the Bethany area of Washington County. There, on one side of the street, lies suburbia in all its glory, the long rows of tract houses massed like foot soldiers; on the other side, a rustic patchwork of hay and oat fields.

Many people believe the line is supposed to halt urban sprawl. It hasn't, says Metro Councilor David Bragdon. "It has preserved farm and forest land, there's no question about that. But has it made downtown Beaverton a better place? Has it made Southeast 82nd Avenue a more pleasant place? No, it hasn't."

The reason, says Rick Gustafson, who served as Metro's first executive officer, is that the line was drawn way too large in 1979. Since then, however, the region's population has swelled to 1.3 million, a jump of 32 percent. "What was too large 20 years ago is not too large today," says Gustafson.

Politically, that means the hard decisions have been left for today's Metro Council. The main question facing the agency is whether new homes for the burgeoning area's new inhabitants should be built on surrounding forest and farm land, or whether the new population should be forced to live inside the existing 236,000-acre metropolitan area, at a higher cost to developers and homeowners.

The new council has decided to hold the line, causing the Portland homebuilding industry to go berserk. Jane Leo of the Portland Metropolitan Home Builders Association contends that the spiraling cost of housing explains why people are moving outside the UGB--across the river to Vancouver, for example.

"People are moving to the suburbs," she says. "They're doing it for affordable housing. But the jobs aren't there, so they're commuting in--which just puts pressure on our transportation infrastructure."

As the stakes mount, political observers expect Metro Council elections to become even more bitterly contested. Homebuilders are already rating Metro Council elections as a bigger priority than higher-profile races for the City Council. In 1994, homebuilder king Don Morissette waged an expensive campaign to get elected to Metro, raising tens of thousands of dollars. Historian Carl Abbott has said Metro seats may soon be equivalent in political status to those held by state legislators.



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