Portland Craftsman, Victorians, Tudors and more…
I really loved our visit to Portland earlier last year where I discovered a feast of architectural styles and well preserved and maintained homes. Beautiful tree-lined streets and colorful gardens added to the vibrance of some of Portland’s historic residential areas, such as Laurelhurst, Sellwood and Eastmoreland . I am well into my series now and wanted to share a few of my favorites with you.
In finding out more about the history of Portland, not surprisingly I learned that it’s roots can be traced to its neighborhoods and surrounding communities. As each settlement or town was established, a Post Office would be built and most of these towns grew up along the streetcar and rail lines.
Portland and the Oregon coast is famous through Meriwether Lewis and William Clark’s exploring the area in 1805, however Native Americans inhabited the Pacific Northwest long before white settlers arrived. This area was home to the Chinook tribe, who sustained themselves by fishing, foraging and trading, many Portland area landmarks — like the Willamette River and Multnomah Falls — were named by these original inhabitants.
When settlers stepped off the Oregon Trail and made their home in Portland, they started giving the area names of their own. One that endures today, “Stumptown,” was an early nickname for the city because of the felled trees that dotted the city’s quickly developing landscape. As a lumber town with seemingly endless expanses of forest all around, the area sprouted up swiftly, knocking down old-growth trees in the wake of its expansion. Pioneers and adventurers flocked to the city from the East Coast, and two — Maine merchant Francis Pettygrove and Massachusetts lawyer Asa Lovejoy — decided the city’s name with a coin-toss, choosing between their respective hometowns of Portland and Boston. Known as “The Portland Penny,” the deciding copper piece is on display today at the Oregon Historical Society Museum.
With its Willamette River location (and proximity to the Columbia River and Pacific Ocean), Portland soon grew into its name as a shipping hub, but it also became a wild haven for sailors who indulged in drink and other vices in the city’s downtown.
Though the city’s original planners developed the downtown wisely (with a gridded structure and small, easily traversed blocks) the infrastructure needed to support a growing region — and ensure its natural beauty — had to be rethought. So, in 1974, the city re-routed a major highway that had disconnected Portland from its waterfront and installed the 30-acre public Waterfront Park in its place. Next, in the late 1970s, Portland instituted an urban growth boundary, an artificial border that restricts development, inhibits sprawl and encourages green space around the city. While Portland will never be able to rewrite history, return the old-growth trees to the region or undo the pollution caused by its rapid growth, these green feats aim to reverse the damage, and ensure that the city’s history and its people have many more chapters to come.
That’s it for now.