Another day, another memory from the box of long-ago Mays.
In 1988, as the Pioneer Place project was getting underway, they chose May Day to blow up the Corbett Building, which housed the downtown Fred Meyer store on the floor level. So far as I know it’s the only time a controlled demolition procedure has been undertaken in Portland. The first of May that year was a Sunday morning, and the demo was scheduled for about 7am to deter crowds of onlookers. Several thousand people (including Barbara and myself) nonetheless made their way downtown to see it, and I did my best to raise awareness among my fellow college students with the flyer above. May Day? Buildings blowing up in downtown? Of course the thing that made it most entertaining was that it was clearing the way for Banana Republic, Saks Fifth Avenue, Victoria’s Secret, and Sanrio. Adobe Illustrator 88!
There’s a (watermarked) photo here of the building in mid-collapse. In it, you can see that the lower-rising buildings in the block had already been conventionally demolished and removed. The photo looks north, from where Pioneer Tower is, across SW Yamhill Street. On the left, across SW 5th Avenue, are some of the trees on Pioneer Courthouse Square, with the Meier & Frank Building behind them across SW Morrison. Beyond the top of the Corbett Building as it falls, you can see the 620 Building on the southeast corner of 5th & Alder.
We were standing to the right of the photo area, back another block on SW 2nd Avenue, which was as close as the police would let the crowd. It was still pretty impressive.