That Vanport was a nice and good city to live in was depicted by its residents who were very welcoming. Additionally, this could also be deduced by considering the number of African- Americans in Vanport. Essentially, the African- American population in Vanport was almost 20 percent, which speaks volumes considering how negatively African- Americans were being treated at the time and the suffering they underwent. As such, Vanport did really represent a nice and good city for African- Americans to settle down, in comparison to other regions in the United States where African- Americans were discriminated against at the time. To understand how Vanport was quite welcoming to a population that seemed to invoke discrimination in other areas, a historical background or perspective is required.
Fundamentally, the growth of Vanport can be traced back to the year 1942 where the city became populated by approximately 40,000 people. Many of these inhabitants were a product of wartime activity where ships dropped off and took people during the war, whose end saw over 18,000 people remain in Vanport. And thus, a city, which was meant to become a temporary refuge, was born. However, being located along with Columbia River, the city was destroyed by floods on the afternoon of May 30 1948, after which the president visited the ruined city to take stock of the damage. Suffice it to say, the city was almost no more as many of the Vanport’s residents had been displaced, became homeless and where even others died.
It is against this background, potentially due to the bonds that were formed during the reconstruction of the city, that an explanation of Vanport’s welcoming attitude to a seemingly-loathed race, the African American, can be found. Essentially, the environment in Vanport was vastly different compared to other cities in the United States, in relation to welcoming people from various ethnic backgrounds. New Vanport residents learned early that it was acceptable for students from different ethnic background to learn together. The city embodied a multicultural society in which all people, whether black or white, could be regarded as free and deserving of respect. This paints a picture of Vanport as a good city for African Americans to live at that time.
Nonetheless, the general social environment still retained inequalities where white people had more opportunities than African- Americans. Additionally, there were segregation between the white and the African Americans in Vanport, based on a belief that black people would be more comfortable with black and a similar belief also for the whites. Still, a comparison of this situation and another one in other cities in the United States indicates that Vanport was really a relatively safe haven for the African-Americans. This may explain the current high number of African Americans in Portland and the harmonious race mixture between white and black especially since Vanport welcomed African Americans seeking greener pastures after running away from slavery in the South.