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What Vancouver, WA looked like in the 1950s and 1960s

In 1952, the city established the Mayor’s Commission on Open Housing. A diverse membership worked diligently to ensure that housing was available to everyone without discrimination. As part of the national highway system, Interstate 5 opened in Vancouver on March 31, 1955, when Governor Arthur Langlie (1900-1966) cut the ribbon. Highway 5 closed Vancouver’s 5th Street, which had been a major arterial and the only road across the military reservation. It also made downtown impossible to access. The city’s core began to decay, and the rise of shopping malls lured many merchants away from the city center. Residents downtown were relocated to other areas during urban renewal in 1965. The population declined, and the downtown withered.

During the 1960s and 1970s, the Army began getting rid of surplus property on the military reserve. Several government entities have taken over the reserve north of the parade grounds, including Clark County, Clark College, the Washington State Department of Transportation, and the Vancouver School District. Planners for those agencies published an ambitious plan called “A Park For the People.”. The plan assured the public that the green expanse of the former military reservation would be used for the public’s benefit without sacrificing its beauty. Officer’s Row was transferred to the city in 1987, and in 2008, the West Barracks, including the hospital and the 1917 Red Cross Building, was also transferred.

Here are some historical photos that show Vancouver, WA in the 1950s and 1960s.

#1 U.S. Post Office-Vancouver, 1950

U.S. Post Office-Vancouver, 1950

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#2 Clark County Historical Museum, 1964

Clark County Historical Museum, 1964

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#3 A Great Northern engine 261 heading southbound on railroad tracks in Vancouver, 1952.

A Great Northern engine 261 heading southbound on railroad tracks in Vancouver, 1952.

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#4 Docks, Vancouver, 1950

Docks, Vancouver, 1950

One is the S.S. Oberlin Victory, and the other may be the S.S. Baylor Victory. Many piles of lumber and other buildings are on the dock.Town buildings are in the background, Vancouver.

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#5 St. Joseph Hospital-Vancouver, 1954

St. Joseph Hospital-Vancouver, 1954

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#6 Aerial Vancouver, 1950

Aerial Vancouver, 1950

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#7 State School for the Deaf, Vancouver, 1950

State School for the Deaf, Vancouver, 1950

An exterior photograph of the long low buildings of the Washington State School for the Deaf, behind a picket fence.

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#8 Aluminum Co. of America, Vancouver, 1950

Aluminum Co. of America, Vancouver, 1950

Vacant land is in the foreground. The Columbia River is across image upper center. Land is visible beyond the Columbia River, below image upper edge.

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#9 J.D. Ross Substation, Clark County, 1950

J.D. Ross Substation, Clark County, 1950

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#10 The westbound Spokane, Portland and Seattle Railway train at Vancouver, 1951.

The westbound Spokane, Portland and Seattle Railway train at Vancouver, 1951.

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#11 An SP&S diesel shop at a railroad yard with train tracks leading to the shop and a building to the right side of the shop in Vancouver, 1952

An SP&S diesel shop at a railroad yard with train tracks leading to the shop and a building to the right side of the shop in Vancouver, 1952

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#12 Armed Forces Parade, 1950

Armed Forces Parade, 1950

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#13 Bags of beer ingredients sit on crates at the Lucky Lager Brewery in Vancouver, 1953

Bags of beer ingredients sit on crates at the Lucky Lager Brewery in Vancouver, 1953

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#14 Base of Columbia Street in Vancouver, 1952

Base of Columbia Street in Vancouver, 1952

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#15 Boxes of Lucky Lager beer sit next to a production line at the Lucky Lager Brewery in Vancouver, 1953

Boxes of Lucky Lager beer sit next to a production line at the Lucky Lager Brewery in Vancouver, 1953

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#16 Between 6th Street and 7th Street on Broadway looking south, 1952

Between 6th Street and 7th Street on Broadway looking south, 1952

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#17 Broadway Seat Covers, located at Broadway & 15th (1411 Broadway), Vancouver, 1956

Broadway Seat Covers, located at Broadway & 15th (1411 Broadway), Vancouver, 1956

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#18 A line of military vehicles move down the street during the Cenaqua Parade on August 6, 1950 in Vancouver, Washington.

A line of military vehicles move down the street during the Cenaqua Parade on August 6, 1950 in Vancouver, Washington.

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#19 A crowd gathers along a Vancouver Street for the Cenaque Parade, 1950

A crowd gathers along a Vancouver Street for the Cenaque Parade, 1950

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#20 Children play in a wading pool outside a building. V.H.A, 1950s

Children play in a wading pool outside a building. V.H.A, 1950s

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#21 Children play around a pool’s edges, 1950s

Children play around a pool's edges, 1950s

Two adults supervise eight young boys as they play around the edge of a pool inside a park. Two more boys stand by themselves at the top of a set of stairs at the far end of the park. A brick pathway surrounds the pool while hedges border the path and lead up to hills of trees.

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#22 5th & Main Bus Station, 1952

5th & Main Bus Station, 1952

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#23 5th & Main Bus Station, 1952

5th & Main Bus Station, 1952

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#24 Downtown Vancouver, 1958

Downtown Vancouver, 1958

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#25 East First Street, Vancouver, 1952

East First Street, Vancouver, 1952

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#26 Veterans Administration Hospital in Vancouver, Washington, 1950s

Veterans Administration Hospital in Vancouver, Washington, 1950s

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#27 High School Pharmacy in Downtown Vancouver on Main and Fourth Plain Fourth Plain Boulevard, 1956

High School Pharmacy in Downtown Vancouver on Main and Fourth Plain Fourth Plain Boulevard, 1956

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#28 Ideal Hardware located at 5910 E. Fourth Plain Boulevard in Vancouver, 1955

Ideal Hardware located at 5910 E. Fourth Plain Boulevard in Vancouver, 1955

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#29 Loadin a Vancouver Fast Freight Truck, 1957

Loadin a Vancouver Fast Freight Truck, 1957

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#30 Lucky Lager Brewery located in Vancouver, Washington, 1953

Lucky Lager Brewery located in Vancouver, Washington, 1953

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#31 Looking South on Main Street in Vancouver, 1952

Looking South on Main Street in Vancouver, 1952

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#32 Main Street Vancouver, 1959

Main Street Vancouver, 1959

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#33 An employee pushes a keg with his foot at the Lucky Lager Brewery located in Vancouver, 1953

An employee pushes a keg with his foot at the Lucky Lager Brewery located in Vancouver, 1953

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#34 Two men ride in a horse drawn Mayflower Milk wagon, 1950

Two men ride in a horse drawn Mayflower Milk wagon, 1950

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#35 Housing in the area of McLoughlin Heights, Vancouver, 1950s

Housing in the area of McLoughlin Heights, Vancouver, 1950s

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#36 Northern Pacific engine 1254 leaves the roundhouse either in Vancouver, 1953

Northern Pacific engine 1254 leaves the roundhouse either in Vancouver, 1953

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#37 Pacific Glue Manufacturing Company, 1956

Pacific Glue Manufacturing Company, 1956

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#38 Construction work on I-5 between Olympia and Vancouver, 1960s

Construction work on I-5 between Olympia and Vancouver, 1960s

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#39 Washington State School for the Blind, Vancouver, 1960

Washington State School for the Blind, Vancouver, 1960

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#40 Broughton Lumber Company, 1965

Broughton Lumber Company, 1965

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#41 Bates House located at 400 W. 11th Street in Vancouver, 1962

Bates House located at 400 W. 11th Street in Vancouver, 1962

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#42 Columbus Day Storm Damage, 1962

Columbus Day Storm Damage, 1962

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#43 Dedication of the Clark County Historical Museum, 1964

Dedication of the Clark County Historical Museum, 1964

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#44 A worker checks for elements at the Electro Ray Manufacturing Company in Vancouver, 1961

A worker checks for elements at the Electro Ray Manufacturing Company in Vancouver, 1961

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#45 A view of the Kaiser Aluminum Plant from the Columbia River during a Fort Vancouver Historical Society boat trip on June 22, 1968.

A view of the Kaiser Aluminum Plant from the Columbia River during a Fort Vancouver Historical Society boat trip on June 22, 1968.

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#46 Fort Vancouver Historical Society Boat Trip, 1968

Fort Vancouver Historical Society Boat Trip, 1968

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#47 Fort Vancouver Historical Society Trip, 1963

Fort Vancouver Historical Society Trip, 1963

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#48 A view of the Fort Vancouver National Site visitor center and Officer’s Row on June 22, 1968.

A view of the Fort Vancouver National Site visitor center and Officer's Row on June 22, 1968.

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#49 Historic Borst Park and Fort Borst, 1967

Historic Borst Park and Fort Borst, 1967

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#50 Interior of Jake’s Market located at 4600 St. Johns Road in Vancouver, 1969

Interior of Jake's Market located at 4600 St. Johns Road in Vancouver, 1969

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#51 McCarty House Columbus Day Storm Damage, 1962

McCarty House Columbus Day Storm Damage, 1962

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#52 The McGuire Chemical Company plant at the Port of Vancouver, 1960

The McGuire Chemical Company plant at the Port of Vancouver, 1960

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#53 New Meadow Glade Store located at Meadow Glade north of Vancouver, 1969

New Meadow Glade Store located at Meadow Glade north of Vancouver, 1969

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#54 Court House-Vancouver, 1951

Court House-Vancouver, 1951

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#55 Clark County Courthouse, Vancouver, 1951

Clark County Courthouse, Vancouver, 1951

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Written by Aung Budhh

Husband + Father + librarian + Poet + Traveler + Proud Buddhist. I love you with the breath, the smiles and the tears of all my life.

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