Smart Talk Publications

Books by Polina Olsen


Downtown Portland

The Downtown Jews, A Walking Tour through Portlandís Early Business District (ISBN 978-0-9787183-2-9, $4.95) shows you how Portlandís first Jewish citizens lived by taking you to stores they owned, buildings they built, places they celebrated and monuments they dedicated.

See where the cityís first Jewish newspaper published and where an early Bínai Bírith lodge met; learn about the sheriff from 1880 who helped build Temple Beth Israelís first synagogue. Most of the buildings youíll see pre-date 1900. All have a fascinating history. Old photographs, advertisements, and newspaper clippings are included.  


South Portland

The old immigrant district of South Portland was a compact area about a mile and a half from north to south and less than a mile east to west. Click here for a map.

It was a self-contained community where immigrants replicated the society they left in Europe. The Jews had kosher butcher shops and bakeries,  synagogues and a mikvah. The Italians had ethnic food, bocce bal courts, and St. Michael the Archangel, their beautiful Italian National Church.


In 1958 Portland voted to create the South Auditorium Urban Renewal District and bulldozers demolished 54 blocks of the immigrant community. Click here for my favorite photo.

A Walking Tour of Historic Jewish Portland (ISBN: 0-9787183-0-5, $5.00) takes you to 14 remaining buildings in old South Portland including a synagogue, orphanage, and old boarding house. Each site includes a photo, walking directions, and the recollections of people 80 - 96 years old who grew up in the neighborhood.

The Immigrants' Children, Jewish & Italian Memories of Old South Portland (ISBN: 0-9787183-1-3, $9.95) is an oral history of South Portland told by the children and grandchildren of immigrants to the neighborhood.  Click here for the bibliography.

Smart Talk Publications are available at Powell's  866.201.7601, in Portland 503.228.4651, Annie Bloom's Books 503.246.0053, and Everthing Jewish 503.246-5437.


For more information contact Smart Talk Publications