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Beginnings: "We are starting from nothing"

Portland State started from humble beginnings in 1946. Following World War II, the University was founded in Vanport City, North Portland's dilapidated wartime housing project.

Vanport Snack Bar

Columbia Hall of the Vanport Extension Center, with snack bar in the foreground.  Stephen Epler, who in only three months assembled facilities, faculty, and staff to open the first summer session at Vanport Extension Center, wrote one of the first professors, "As you know, we are starting from nothing."


Built on reclaimed lowlands bordering the Columbia River five miles north of downtown Portland, Vanport's location was risky and required a dike to protect it.