Ghost Ramps and Forgotten Freeways

Today’s interviewee was Ron Buel. Ron is a journalist, author and activist who was involved in the “Freeway Revolt” movement in the 1970s. He also was a founder of the Willamette Week newspaper.

Ron spoke to us about the fight to stop the Mt. Hood Freeway, which would have destroyed the neighborhoods along SE Clinton and Division streets in Portland, as well as the construction of the I-205 freeway and its effects on commuting patterns. You can still see the “Ghost Ramps to Nowhere” on the Marquam Bridge which carries I-5 across the Willamette river today.

What does that have to do with the Organ Grinder? The effects of changing transportation patterns and demographics, as well as expectations for a freeway that was never built, had an impact on business at the Organ grinder, as well as 82nd Ave. in general.

But Ron didn’t just talk to us about transportation. Ron worked with Organ Grinder co-founder Paul Forchuk on political causes, even holding candidate fundraisers at the restaurant! Ron describes Paul as a generous, kind-hearted person who was engaged in local politics including fighting for LGBT rights.

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