Vanport Theater

North Cottonwood Street,
North Portland, OR 97223

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The Vanport Theater opened in August 1943 and on May 30, 1948 the theater was destroyed in a flood.

Vanport City was located just N of Portland, Oregon on the Columbia River opposite Vancouver, Wash. The name Vanport comes from combining VANcouver and PORTland. Vanport City was built in 1942 to house shipyard workers during WWII. The movie theater was built for those workers.

On May 30, 1948 at 4:05 pm the town was submerged when floodwaters breached the Columbia River embankment, causing loss of life and great property destruction. Vanport City is now referred to as North Portland.

Contributed by Lost Memory

Recent comments (view all 4 comments)

strawberry on April 7, 2006 at 4:12 am

The above link no longer works, but here is the same page with photos at a new URL: View link

strawberry on April 7, 2006 at 4:28 am

From the original Vanport Residents Handbook:

“THEATER: The Vanport City Theater, Cottonwood near Lake Street is open seven days a week from 1:30 p.m. to midnight. Your community theater is one of the few leisure time facilities in the community. It is for your pleasure and convenience. Your suggestions to the Management will be appreciated, and your cooperation in making it a good place to go is solicited.”

The handbook is in the manuscript collection at the Oregon Historical Society—you can see some of the handbook’s text at

strawberry on April 7, 2006 at 4:33 am

It seems that the operator of the Vanport Theater was a man by the name of Ted R. Gamble.

“Ted R. Gamble, the operator of the Vanport Theatre, has pledged complete co-operation with the project services department in making the facilities of the theatre available for recreation, education, health, welfare, and community activities."
(see View link)

strawberry on April 7, 2006 at 4:37 am

“The theater seated 750 patrons and was equipped with the most modern amenities of its time. An Oregonian article dated August 11, 1943, praised the new theater and predicted its future success. "Destined to be a center of community activity in the vast housing center, the Vanport theater is a modern motion picture house in all respects. Latest equipment in projection, sound and appointments have been incorporated in its construction.”

(see View link)

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