Recent photos of the Grant Park Market have conjured up memories for AH readers who recall the screen doors, the corner entry, the friendly help behind the counter, the dependable cold Coke when walking home from Grant High School. One of our frequent correspondents and Alameda export Brian Rooney sends us this memory map of the store (click to enlarge), that may bring back a memory or two for readers.
Other memories or insights to share about the Grant Park Market and Grocery?
We like memory maps. You can find another one here, that touches on the story of Wilshire Park, both the first part and the rest of the story.
In 1940 Safeway wanted to build a store where the Grant Park Grocery was located. This and the desire to sell two vacant lots adjoining the property that had been zoned residential caused considerable strife between homeowners in the Alameda and Grant Park neighborhoods and the City of Portland for a period of several years.
Grant Park Grocery store and Grant Park Pharmacy were already established on this corner under a non-conforming permit. A zoning ordinance for the City of Portland was passed in 1924. The building housing the grocery and drug store was under construction just prior to the enactment of the zoning laws, so it was allowed remain even though the area was zoned residential under the new law.
In October 1940, Mrs. K. F. Hughes filed a petition asking the City for a zone change on the vacant lots that she owned on Knott Street near 33rd Avenue. When question first came up, Mayor Joseph K. Carson Jr. felt the City Planning Commission had not given enough thought to the matter and recommended more study by the planning commission be given before it came before the council again.
The issue was put aside at the request of Mrs. Hughes until May 1942. At a City Council meeting in December 1942 the zone change from residential to business was approved by 4 to 1 vote of the Council. It was argued that the property could not be sold for residential purposes since the area now had other businesses in the neighborhood. But that was not the end of the matter. Two weeks later, angry neighbors argued against the zone change for two hours at the City Council at the meeting that took place on January 14, 1943. By May 1943, the four corners at the intersection had become an issue as the council considered zoning them all as business.
By the end of 1943 the City Council had turned down the petition six times, but it was granted on the seventh try. At the January 28th Council meeting the Council voted 4 to 1 in favor of the petition. That paved the way for the Safeway store to be built at the intersection. Property owners from the Grant High neighborhood, once again, protested against the zone change. They felt it would depreciate property values and asserted that they bought their homes on the basis of the zoning being residential. Safeway’s attorney, Mrs. Hughes and others disagreed by pointing out the increased traffic made the corner unsuitable for homes and that 33rd Avenue was “destined to be one the busiest arteries in Portland”.
A suit was quickly filed to stop the rezoning. The suit charged that a majority of the homeowners were against the zone change and was in “arbitrary disregard of the best interests of the district”. On September 25, 1944, Circuit Judge Walter L. Tooze permanently enjoined the permit for the erection a Safeway store at that location. The court noted that nearly all the homeowners within a half-mile had written protests against the change of zone. The City of Portland appealed the case to the Oregon Supreme Court where it was upheld in favor of the homeowners.
So was the matter settled? Apparently not, as once again the neighbors protested before the City Council about petitions brought by the owners of the Grant Park Grocery store for a zone change. The store owners were asking for the zoning change so that the unused lots could be used for customer parking. This time the owners prevailed and in 1953 the parking lot that stands today was built behind the building with the entrance on Knott Street.
In the ensuing years, office buildings have been built on two of other corner lots at this intersection. The grocery store and pharmacy is also an office building now.
On a personal note, as a child growing nearby, we used to call the lot on the northeast corner, “the woods” (At other times it was also known as “the shortcut”). Although I never found one, my childhood pals and I hunted for bears in “the woods” many times long before any buildings were built there.