April 2013


Multnomah Greyhound Park


As soon as we saw the imposing, derelict building looming over Fred Meyer we knew we had to get a closer look. The now-abandoned Multnomah Greyhound Park in Wood Village, Oregon, is a beautifully ugly example of urban decay. We had planned to have a look around and take some pictures. We knew we were being watched as soon as we got out of the car. However, when the caretaker — a woman of about 65 — approached us from behind the gate, we didn't think it was to invite us in for a private tour.

She was not as crazy as I had thought she would be. I imagined her locking us in and having her way with us, Hostel-style. Thankfully, she just wanted to talk. She told us a little about the history: how the MGP opened in 1957, and for years it drew crowds of 20,000+. She had been around in it's heyday, and so it's understandable that she got a little choaked-up a few times when describing the building's former glamour. I can understand why. I'm sure it's hard to look at all the broken glass and overgrown grass, and not be reminded of what it once was.

I am, however, glad that dog racing no longer takes place here. What's a shame is that the facility was left to rot and, so far, there are no plans in place to reuse or restore it. After it closed in the early 2000s, an entertainment complex/casino was proposed for the site, but it failed. Another casino proposal in 2012 also failed. It make me think of all the unused spaces of existing buildings, and how they're forgotten and left to decay for new construction. It's too late for the MGP to be reused as anything, so of course it will be demolished when the time comes. It's just sad to think that all of the good memories associated with it will kind of be gone too. Kind of like wanting to go to a cemetery to mourn the dead but there's no headstone.

I asked the caretaker what she wanted to see happen to the property. After a couple stories about rescuing red-tailed hawks, and feeding feral cats, we came to the conclusion to leave it to them. Let mother nature take over and reclaim the land. Sort of like a Life After People-style wildlife refuge. That's what we'd do, anyway.