Ghost Signs – Jefferson West Apartments (Cordova Hotel)

The businesses in this building at SW 11th and Jefferson began to dwindle and vanish right around the time I moved to Portland. The cheap apartments above the storefronts emptied out as well, being replaced by units in the Jeffrey a few blocks away.

Formerly home to the divey River City Saloon, a salon, a mail center, and a copy shop, one of the corner storefronts also served as an art and civic space called Field Work during the years between the closing of the businesses and the end of the story for the building.

I noticed a big bite had been taken out of the corner of the block in late August, exposing the interiors of some of the old apartments.

The rest has been coming down throughout September. Eventually the lot will be cleared and a new 15-story student housing development will be erected. Unfortunately, it follows the trend in private student housing of being heinously overpriced at a thousand a month for a shared room, and three hundred more if you’d like a private studio.

Whether or not the new development will be particularly useful to anyone other than transfer students with wealthy parents, it’s good to see the block redeveloped. If nothing else the luxury accommodations should soak up the moneyed kids and leave more of the older and/or PSU owned cheaper housing stock available for others; and the new construction will revitalize several block faces that have been empty and moribund for the better part of a decade.

The demolition exposed a painted sign on one of the formerly hidden walls of one of the original buildings in the conglomorate. Presumably this advertised the Cordova Hotel that was a historical occupant of the site. Besides the hotel, the building also played past host to Reed’s classrooms, several music venues, and a porno theater.

Green living goes out the window…

…when you’ve got to move all of that shit. The winter term at PSU ended this week, and after they wrapped up their finals students from around the world vacated their dormitories and set off back to their homes. In the process, they threw away a lot of shit that really shouldn’t hit the landfill quite yet.

The combination of laziness and ignorance of the value of things means people send a lot of really nice stuff to the dump. Add in the pressure of having to fly home with only what will fit in your suitcase, and they start acting downright irrationally. Mix in the lack of foresight young adults are famous for, and the behavior around move out time starts approaching mass mental break territory.

If you happen to have a stable housing situation and live near a college campus, you can harness this insanity to your benefit. I made the rounds at some of the dumpsters around campus as I was going about my day, and came out with a decent haul. The only work required was taking a walk on an uncharacteristically nice spring day, and silencing my inner germophobe as I scaled the sides of the bins to get a better angle at the goods within.

The fruits of this labor were many:
-A Samsung Q70 laptop with its power supply. It wouldn’t boot (from what I can tell the integrated video card failed), but it has many salvageable parts, and the hard drive was helpfully pre-loaded with a considerable quantity of pirated music and pornography.
-A box full of camera gear.
-Lots of textbooks that I passed on but were quickly picked up by others, and enough paperbacks to net $20 in credit at Powell’s. Quickly redeemed to pick up Xerography Debt #29, The East Village Inky #47, and the compilation book of Scam #1-4.
-A D-Link DI-524M router/wireless access point.
-More office supplies than you can shake a stick at.
-A few baking trays, one of which was in fact brand new.

I could have fed myself for several weeks off of the vast quantities of still sealed packaged foods I found, but I had to draw the line somewhere. A kitchen could have been outfitted several times over with the cookware, cutlery, and flatware that had been thrown away. Several new in box pieces of Ikea furniture would have gotten a start on furnishing the rest of an apartment, not to mention the various used pieces of furniture to be found.  And of course, there was a small mountain of clothing, which at least a few people were decent enough to bag separately and set off to the side.

I only checked out the outdoor, publicly accessible dumpsters. I know Broadway hall has one somewhere inside that the trash chutes dump into, but didn’t feel like getting my B&E on, even though I’m sure the pickings would have been good. There are also countless near campus apartment buildings that likely experience a similar exodus of students and the accompanying orgy of waste. Here’s a quick map of the sites I did hit up:

Anyway, I guess the moral of the story is this: Stop being so goddamn lazy, and donate your still useful housewares to Goodwill or something. Take the computers to Free Geek, or just leave them anywhere other than the dumpsters. Same with the other electronics. There are a lot of folks who do without and would love to have that stuff. Just tossing it in the trash is a despicable display of laziness and callous disregard for not just your fellow man, but the planet as well.