Smart Talk Publications
Books by Polina Olsen
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.
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.
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.