The North Portland Library
512 N. Killingsworth St.
Portland, OR
The North Portland Library

Located at the corner of N. Killingsworth Street and N. Commercial Street, the North Portland Library is a classic Carnegie style with open-beamed wooden ceilings and two attractive public meeting rooms. It was built in 1913. The second floor meeting room can accommodate 150 people. Unless it is in use, the entire second floor is closed and secured. It is here that our story begins.
Security cameras are mounted at three outside locations, the main entrance and the second floor meeting room. One day in 1990, a library assistant who was viewing the monitor at the main desk noticed a man sitting in a chair on the second floor. Only problem was that there were no meetings scheduled and that floor was sealed off. She brought her observation to the attention of her supervisor. Together they watched the monitor.... outside shot, outside shot, one more outside view, shot of the main entrance; upstairs shot and there he was - a man seated in one of the chairs. Together they unlocked the door to the ascending stairwell and step by step, they climbed until the meeting room was in view - nothing there; the room was completely vacant.
Back down the stairs they went; back to the front desk and the monitor. Outside shots, front shot, upstairs shot and there he was again. The figure was dark and motionless; still seated in a chair. The supervisor went back up while the assistant watched on the monitor. The apparition on the monitor vanished before the supervisor could make it into the room.
The 'man upstairs' was seen quite frequently from that point on. Some employees said it must be a play of shadows. Others said it was surely a haunting. It was only seen on the monitor and never viewed by anyone who had the courage to go up those stairs alone.
In the last five years the monitor seldom shows the ghostly image. If he/it does show up, the next round of camera views only shows a vacant second floor room. This story would be simple enough if it ended here but it does not. Following are quotes from an ex employee:

"Try this: walk up that sidewalk on Commercial street, alongside the library, heading from the library toward the Commercial St. doors of Jefferson High School. Do this around 1-2 am (if you ever get the chance, and NOT alone!) I can almost guarantee you will hear footsteps walking toward you and around you."
Another experience from the same individual:
"I had a friend that lived on the corner of Commercial and that small side street that "T"s away from the athletic field of Jeff. High School, (going east.)
I'd stopped by his house with another friend of ours.. they were both inside the house, talking (I was waiting outside in my car for them). I'd had the window down, it was a summer night- all the sudden I heard heavy footsteps (like.. boots?) coming toward me, from behind me (south) and across Commercial street.
I was parked in front of this house, facing north toward Killingsworth, on Commercial. I turned my head around expecting to see someone approach and there was NO ONE THERE.
I just about jumped out of my skin.. I rolled up those windows and started my car and laid on the horn to get my buddy out of our friends' house. He came outside and I had to unlock his door to let him in the car.. I told him what I'd heard and he's also heard the footsteps before. It freaked him out too, and he jumped in the car and we got the heck outta there."

This second experience was less than three hundred feet from the library. Now, let's add a little twist. I have to mention that there is a mortuary directly across Commercial Street from the library. Cremations are performed on the premises. How much of a factor do the recently departed at the mortuary have with the phenomena in the library and on Commercial Street? The high crime rate of the area must also be considered. This is a violent part of town with stabbings and shootings occurring on a regular basis.
I cannot explain the man on the monitor. I cannot explain the footsteps of Commercial Street. I can, however, recommend an action to this readership: go to this intersection on a cold, lonely night. See for yourself if there is anything there. Don't forget to take a friend along - for safety and security.

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