Friday, January 26, 2007

Alberta Line.

Portland Railway Co. initated the Alberta Line (1903-1949), running from a downtown loop of 2nd-Morrison-3rd-Washington out to its terminus at N.E. Alberta and 25th.

William Hayes collection
W. Hayes collection

Isn't that building on the right still standing? It looks really familiar but I can't place it.

By 1909, the line had been extended in spurts to N.E. 30th at Ainsworth.

Converted to bus in 1949.


Monday, January 08, 2007

A Few More Demolished Buildings of PDX.

I have several never-posted PDX's Historic Trolley Lines map entries I'm trying to get around to actually posting. But before I do that I figured I would add the sites of the Marquam Grand & the Burkhard Building to the Demolished Buildings of PDX map.

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The Marquam Grand

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The Burkhard Building

Credit where credit's due: Dan Haneckow at Cafe Unknown did the research & wrote far-more-in-depth-posts-than-I-ever-could on both these buildings.


Thursday, January 04, 2007

Mapping Historic Portland.

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A week & a half ago I received notification that a Tinzeroes Platial map had received a Platial "2006 Map Award." First of all, I confess a deep-seeded self-loathing when it comes to my neglected Platial geography projects these days: the viscera of Portland history I've been delving into of late is less map-able than trolleys crossing intersections or buildings that used to be at such-&-such streets. Secondly, at least initially, if I were to pick one of my 4 platial maps as a "favorite," I would probably pick Demolished Buildings of PDX over actual 2006 "Best Local History Map" winner Historical Portland Trolley Lines.

But then I took a gander at the trolley map, & although it is rather skimpy in terms of factual information, & although its largely a mapping of research & photos compiled by other people, I suppose it is, truthfully, a fairly interesting juxapositioning of historical data using a rather unique infobahn tool. To borrow from a friend's synopsis, the Trolley Map presents handy historical "capsules" for injestion: small in content but easily digestible.

I guess now is as good of a time as any to mention that some of the glitter of Portland's trolley heyday has tarnished a bit for me. At its apex, Portland's (privately owned) trolley network was deeply rooted in conflicts of interest scandalous by today's standards: city contracts handed to individuals who held significant ownership stakes in the trolley network, who in turn used same city-contracted tracks to move materials for other city public works projects - think if Tri-Met were a private corporation, & then one of its major shareholders received the contract to build the tram, & then used Tri-Met rails to move tram materials to the construction site at no cost to himself.

With the ol' Trolley map, I was certainly smitten w/ the rather romanticized concept of these wonders of public transportation inadvertently laying a foundation for Portland's current uniqueness. The initial conclusion I drew from this observation was that urban planning was as much dumb luck as anything else, if not exclusively the same. I suppose that conclusion is unchanged, but iced w/ a considerably larger serving of pessimism: monied interests lining thier pockets w/ tax-payer dollars, over & over, throughout history.

But hey, enough of this tragedy of history stuff, right? Lets looky at some real maps! Like this electoral ward map of Portland, circa 1905.

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Things of interesting note: the map shows the then city limits. Although there are 10 wards, it really sticks out at me that 6 of them are on the remarkably smaller-in-area west side, which underlines the way in which the city's demographics were drastically different in terms of population density 100 years ago: most people lived "downtown," and the eastside, while growing, was less dense & less populous.

Next map.

This 1 shows the ethnic layout of Portland circa 1913. If you had any doubts as to Portland's white-ness, I suppose this can lay those doubts to rest. Modern-day anxiety over Portland's snowy reputation aside, its always somewhat bizarre to think that a century ago the presence of Swedish, Norwegian, & German immigrants were considered noteworthy. Chinatown is clearly defined, although the area apparently immediately south of Ladd's Addition once being predominately black, or the German- & Russian-Jewish enclaves in the Lair Hill vicinity caught me off guard. The Italian presence in & around the Brooklyn Yards I had heard about.
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Next up is a map of "high-rent" & "working-class" neighborhoods in Portland. Anyone who has spent a significant amount of time touring Portland & taking the time to note the size & style of the older homes should not be surprised by the layout presented by this map. Still, Goose Hollow: working class? That does not jive w/ my perceptions.

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All 3 maps are from MacColl's Shaping of a City.1


1 MacColl, E. Kimbark. The Shaping of a City: Business and Politics in Portland Oregon 1885 to 1915. The Georgian Press Company, Portland, Oregon. 1976. p. 346, 460, 463.