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.
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.