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Portland's Best Giant Neon Gift Is the Copper Penny Sign in Lents

Gentrification and urban renewal finally claimed the New Copper Penny this April

For four decades, the eyes of Abraham Lincoln have been red and gigantic. They looked over the East Portland neighborhood of Lents out of a 10-foot-tall neon coin that advertised notorious dancehall the New Copper Penny. The humongous penny was the Mount Rushmore of Lents, a symbol of the neighborhood's imperviousness to change—a pride or a bane, depending on who you asked and how they had fared playing the horses in the Penny's off-track betting parlor.

Related: The City Poured $96 Million into Reviving Lents. Where's the Rebirth of the East Portland Neighborhood?

Gentrification and urban renewal finally claimed the New Copper Penny this April: owner Saki Tzantarmas sold his fiefdom to a real estate developer who plans to turn it into an apartment building. But just two months later, Saki's relative Deana Tzantarmas sent a Facebook offer to the "I Love Lents" neighborhood group: They could keep the giant neon penny, gratis.

Related: The City Says Saki Tzantarmas Is Holding His East Portland Neighborhood Hostage.

"It's with much love for this neighborhood," she wrote, "that we would like to donate it to our Lents community." Take a penny, leave a penny.

Best of Portland Issue 2016.

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