Sunday, June 19, 2011

Demographic Shifts - York Neighborhhod and North Central Oregon

My neighborhood went through a bit of a demographic shift last week. A number of years ago we had a block birthday party for the six 6-year olds on the block. It is not quite the same mix but we saw six graduates last week. This group combined with other kids that have grown up in the hood and recently left means our summers won't be filled with the noise of children playing through the yards. A new infusion of kids will likely come along, but for the time being the children population in the immediate hood has declined significantly over the past few years.

The Grant Street 6

Lined up on a glacial scoured ridge of Chuckanut Sandstone in Bellingham's York Neighborhood

John hands out coupons for York Neighborhood apparel at Nelson's Market

After first hand watching the demographic shift in my own neighborhood I traveled to the east side of the Cascade Mountains and pondered demographic shifts as I passed through various communities. Certainly there has been large influxes of population in in some towns and cities, but not all. Several towns that once served a significantly more populated area than today have declined in population. Demographic shifts in small communities are more obvious than in cities and in the dry climate east of the Cascade Range old buildings remain long after the populations they once served have left. 

Abandoned school

Abandoned church

The hotel and cafe in Shaniko, Oregon are vacant and for sale 

Old Shaniko Post Office

I will note that Shaniko looked better than I recalled from past trips. A labor of love by people trying to maintain the buildings of the old town. Someone had fixed up the old hotel and cafe. The small communities in north central Oregon are not short of money. Wind farms, regional landfills and high wheat prices have been a boom for the local economies and tax rolls.

New fire equipment at Grass Valley, Oregon


Stone-Loke said...

The declining population in many of these towns is the result of giant mega-farms taking over the much smaller family farms. It takes fewer people to operate those factory farms and the smaller populations can't support/don't need the small towns. Arguments about organic, sustainable farming methods aside, it's a shame. Such a nice way of life.

Anonymous said...

Where is the abandoned church located?

Dan McShane said...

Grass Valley, OR