Urban Renewal

14 June 2014

In the mid-1960s Eugene, Oregon started an urban renewal program, destroying the downtown area and driving Penny’s, Sears and many others into the suburbs. In the same breath, the city fathers constructed a large fountain in the Park Blocks. It wasn’t a geyser. Instead, it was a gentle, bubbling type allowing water to flow over a flat round base. Word of its completion traveled quickly. The Hippies – bless their hearts – came out of the surrounding hills to bathe. City police tried to discourage them, but their action only attracted more.

Scores of letters poured into the Register-Guard. The editor, a broad-minded person, published pages of them. One writer found humor in the situation, and wrote the following letter:

Dear Editor: I don’t object to the Hippies bathing in the city fountain. In fact, one afternoon I took my son and daughter there, bought burgers, and masticated while the Hippies bathed.