PDX History

Portland History

The site of Portland was once called the Clearing by traders and trappers who used the bank of the Willamette River as a stopping ground while traveling between Oregon City and Fort Vancouver. The sea captain John Couch assessed the rivers depth as able to accommodate sea going vessels which could not reach all the way to Oregon City and William Overton and Asa Lovejoy filed a land claim on the Clearing as well as the waterfront and the timber land. Overton sold his half to Francis W Pettygrove who helped finish the work of clearing trees and building roads.

Portland was named in 1851 by a coin-toss between Lovejoy, who was from from Boston, Massachusetts, and Pettygrove, who was from Portland, Maine. The coin-toss was best two out of three to name the city in favor of the winner’s hometown. The future city then traded ownership with many different people including Daniel Lownsdale, Stephen Coffin, Captin John Couch, Benjamin Stark, William Chapman.

Due to the river’s depth at that area, Portland quickly outstripped its older rival, Oregon City as the largest town in Oregon. In 1891 Portland merged with Albina and East Portland but had lost its river-trade fame in favor of Seattle due to the railways headed east. In 1910 the city merged with Linnton and St Johns and due to the Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition (a world’s fair) the city’s population more than doubled.

Early union troubles started with the International Longshoremen’s Association strike all along the west coast. The strike ended when police from Portland shot four strikers and then shot the senator from New York who was investigating the site of the shooting. In the 1950s Portland’s organized crime became famous when the federally founded McClellan Commission determined that Portland not only had a local crime problem but also serious national ramifications reporting that corrupt teamster officials were plotting to take over the city’s vice rackets.

Portland has recently become a major mecca for graphic design and athletics industries, drawing artistic and talented designers from all over the world. Portland has also been drawing in various clean energy research firms, hoping to turn Portland into a Green-Tech Silicone Valley.

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PDX History

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