Continued Improvements in Portland Oregon

There were eighty retail liquor saloons and seven wholesale dealers in liquors; there were nine livery stables, thirteen meat markets, four photograph galleries, twenty cigar and tobacco dealers, six breweries, five bakeries, two brickyards, four banks, fourteen printers, one match factory, one soap factory, one salt works, one barrel factory, two box factories, twenty-one dressmakers, five dealers in Chinese goods, two book binderies, one tannery, five wagon makers, six blacksmith shops, five bakeries, two express companies, three railroad companies, five merchant tailors, two telegraph offices, thirteen licensed draymen and two undertakers, besides a number of other occupations such as auctioneer and wigmaker.

These statistics show Portland to have been twenty years ago a thriving cosmopolitan little city, with business much diversified and doing a heavy business. As indicating the religious growth of the place it may be said that there were now fifteen churches, a full account of which is found elsewhere.

The assessed value of property in the city was six million eight hundred and forty-eight thousand five hundred and sixty-eight dollars; about half of its purchasing value. The population was estimated at nine thousand five hundred and sixty-five.

In 1871 the improvements continued, the amount spent on buildings being estimated at one million two hundred and eighty-six thousand dollars. . Commenting upon this at the time, The Oregonian said: “Many of these buildings are costly and of handsome and imposing appearance. We doubt if any city on the Pacific Coast can show anything like a parallel. The exhibit proves conclusively and in the most appreciable manner the rapid strides of our city towards wealth and greatness. * * * Every house is occupied as soon as finished, and not infrequently houses are bespoken before the ground is broken for their erection. * * * Rents are justly pronounced enormous.”

The finest buildings of this year were the New Market Theatre of A. P. Ankeny, sixty by two hundred feet, on First and A streets extending to Second, and the Masonic Hall on Third and Alder, of three stories and a Mansard roof, still a very prominent building, and finished in the Corinthian style:

The number of steamers registering in the Willamette District were thirty-one; of barks, one; brigs, six; schooners, two; scows, two; sloops, four. The total exports-exclusive of goods re-exported reached a value of six hundred and ninety-two thousand two hundred and ninety-seven dollars. The total value of property assessed was ten million one hundred and fifty-six thousand three hundred and twenty dollars, with an indebtedness of one million one hundred and ten thousand one hundred and five dollars. The population as estimated reached eleven thousand one hundred and three.

In 1872 Ankeny’s New Market Theatre was completed at a cost of one hundred thousand dollars, and the Masonic Temple at eighty thousand dollars. A Good Templars Hall was built on Third street costing ten thousand dollars. The Clarendon Hotel was built on North First street near the railroad depot. Smith’s block, a row of warehouses between First and Front streets and Ash and Oak, was built this year, at a cost of fifty thousand dollars. Pittock’s block on Front near Stark was completed at a cost of twenty thousand dollars. A house for a Central school was erected, sixty by one hundred and twenty feet, costing thirty thousand dollars; work on the Government building on Fifth and Morrison streets was continued. Trinity Church erected a house of worship on the corner of Sixth and Oak streets, at a cost of twenty-five thousand dollars. Dekum’s building on the corner of First and Washington streets, of three stories, and still one of the prominent buildings, costing seventy thousand dollars, was begun in 1871 and completed in ’72. The hack and dray company erected new stables on G street, between Fifth and Sixth, one hundred by seventy-five feet, costing five thousand dollars. The wharves of the O. S. N. Co. were extended and improved. The Home for the Destitute was also built this year.

In the line of shipping there were five ocean steamers plying to San Francisco: The John L. Stephens, an old-fashioned side-wheeler, being the largest, carrying one thousand eight hundred and thirty-seven tons. Coastwise tonnage aggregated one hundred and nine thousand nine hundred and forty-nine tons; in the foreign trade there were eighteen thousand nine hundred and forty-four tons. Prom foreign countries there arrived twelve barks and two ships, with a total capacity of nine thousand four hundred and forty tons. Imports-that is strictly from foreign countries-were seven hundred and twenty-eight thousand seven hundred and twenty-five dollars; exports to foreign countries six hundred and fifty-eight thousand and six hundred and fourteen dollars. The west side railroad was running to the Yamhill river at St. Joseph, and the east side to Roseburg in the Umpqua valley. Large fires occurred in 1872 making a total loss of three hundred and fifty thousand dollars. The population was estimated at twelve thousand one hundred and twenty-nine.

In August, 1873, a great fire occurred, burning twenty blocks along the river front south of Yamhill and a part of Morrison street. It destroyed property to the value of one million three hundred and forty-five thousand dollars, on which there was an insurance of but two hundred and seventy dollars. An account of this conflagration is given elsewhere in this book. Immediate steps were taken to build up once more the burnt district, and many structures were erected to replace those lost. A brick market building two hundred feet from Front to First at the corner of Madison, was built by B. V. Bunnell and other parties as stockholders. Johnson & Spaulding, G. W. Vaughn, J. M. Fryer, Quimby & Perkins and others, built good structures on Front and First streets. H. W. Corbett, C. M. Carter C. Holman, C. M. Wiberg, J. P. O. Lownsdale, M. S. Burrell, and Elijah Corbett, interested themselves in rebuilding the waste places. The house of Protection Engine Company, on First street near Madison, was at the time allotted a good building.

In the northern part of the city a fine building was erected on First and A streets, by A. P. Ankeny. Further north the bonded warehouses and a number of brick stores were built. In this year also the elegant residence of Mr. Henry Failing was erected.

In the line of commerce the coastwise entrances reached a tonnage of one hundred and twelve thousand and one hundred; of foreign entrances, nineteen thousand one hundred and forty-three tons. American vessels for foreign ports aggregated nineteen thousand four hundred and forty-four tons clearances. The exports, a value of one million two hundred and eighty-four thousand one hundred and forty-nine dollars, exclusive of shipments by way of San Francisco. The property was assessed at ten million eight hundred and four thousand six hundred and sixty-two. The population was estimated at twelve thousand nine hundred and fifty-nine.

For the shipping season of 1873-74 there was exported of wheat and flour a value of four million thirty-seven thousand and. ninety-three dollars by the mouth of the Columbia river. During 1874 there was a steady improvement in the growth of the city, yet the loss of the previous years and the filling up of the wastes by fires did not so much work for the extension of the city limits. During 1875, the general depression in business throughout the United States, consequent upon the general failure which was begun by the Northern Pacific Railroad Co., so affected Portland as to discourage general improvement. Exports in shipping continued about the same. Railroad enterprises, although working to the advantage of the city, were now drawing in rather than disbursing money, although work on the west side was resumed. There was considerable increase in property and population which now reached thirteen thousand four hundred and seventy.

The publications of the time speak of the prosperity of 1876, of “the numerous and costly buildings” erected, of “additional wharves and warehouses” and of manufacturing interests, but a detailed account is not at hand. Seventy-two foreign vessels visited the river and the export of wheat was one million nine hundred and thirty-seven thousand seven hundred and eighty-seven centals, and of flour two hundred and fifteen thousand seven hundred and fourteen barrels. The salmon business on the lower Columbia was moving toward its maximum, the pack of this year being estimated at four hundred and eighty thousand cases. Wool, to the value of six hundred thousand dollars, was also shipped. There was also a coast-wise export of upwards of one million dollars to San Francisco. The population was thirteen thousand eight hundred and two.

During 1877 about one hundred separate building improvements were made. Those valued at five thousand dollars or upwards are named herewith: a wharf, by John Rines, at the foot of Oak street, five thousand dollars; improvements to school buildings, twelve thousand dollars; two-story brick building, by P. W. D. Hardenberg, at the northwest corner of Morrison and Second streets, ten thousand dollars; two residences, by Rev. George Burton, at the northwest corner of Eleventh and Morrison streets, five thousand dollars; a two story brick building, by Harker, on First and Front, between Morrison and Yamhill, eight thousand dollars; a two-story brick building on Front street near Main, five thousand dollars; a wharf, by Captain Flanders, at the foot of C street, eight thousand dollars; German Reformed church, at the northeast corner of Stark and N, five thousand dollars; Lutheran church, rebuilt into a dwelling, H. W. Corbett, six thousand dollars; a double house, by G. F. Wells, West Park and Yamhill, six thousand five hundred dollars; residence by F. Dekum, on block between Eleventh and Twelfth, and Yamhill and Morrison, thirteen thousand dollars; a one-story brick building, on the corner of First and Taylor, by C. M. Rohr, five thousand dollars; three residences, by W. Honeyman, on Tenth and Taylor streets, six thousand dollars; improvements to the mill near the water works, six thousand dollars; a dock and warehouse by W. K. Smith, on the levee north of Salmon street, ten thousand dollars; brick building by H. Weinhard, corner of B and Eleventh streets, fifteen thou-sand dollars ; brick building, by F. Dekum, on the corner of A and Front streets, thirteen thousand dollars; two-story brick, by H. Trenkman, eight thousand dollars. The total improvements for this year were estimated at three hundred and twenty thousand dollars. About eighty vessels in the foreign trade entered the Columbia river. The total wheat and flour export was upward of five million dollars in value. The total of all exports from the Columbia was estimated at over sixteen . million dollars-probably somewhat excessive. The assessable property of the city was twelve million one hundred and thirteen thousand two hundred and fifty-five dollars and the population was estimated at fifteen thousand and ninety-nine.

The movement toward improvements begun so auspiciously in 1877, steadily expanded during 1878, the number of separate buildings exceeding two hundred, and fifty and costing about one million dollars. Of those costing ten thousand dollars or upwards we give a list below. Among them stood pre-eminent the Catholic Cathedral on the old site at the corner of Third and Stark streets, built of brick in the Gothic style, and costing eighty thousand dollars. The new Unitarian church was also built this year on the old site at Seventh and Yamhill at a cost of eighteen thousand dollars. A handsome brick store was erected at the foot of Stark street by Reed and Failing at a cost of thirty thousand dollars. The brick store of J. S. Smith was also erected this year at the foot of Washington street, at a cost of thirty thousand dollars. G. H. Flanders made an addition to his wharf at an expense of ten thousand dollars. The wharf of J. S. Smith, at the foot of Washington street, was built at a cost of ten thousand dollars; and the machine shop, by S. M. Dyer, at eighteen thousand dollars. A brick hotel was erected on the corner of Third and F streets by John Burton at a cost of thirteen thousand dollars. A residence was built by Henry Weinhard on B and S streets, costing sixteen thousand dollars; and Molson’s brewery on Ninth and B, at an expenditure of sixteen thousand dollars. Stores were built by H. C. Leonard on the corner of Front and A, at twenty-four thousand dollars, and also by Chinese companies on the corner of Second and Alder, at ten thousand five hundred; and a brick store by C. P. Church & Co., on the corner of First -ad Morrison, at thirteen thousand five hundred dollars. A livery stable was built by Sherlock and Bacon, on the corner of Second and Oak streets, costing twenty-three thousand dollars. A hotel was erected by Therkelsen & M’ Kay on Second and C, at ten thousand dollars.. The other buildings of this year were quite handsome residences, as that of Dr. G. H. Chance, on the corner of Hall and Second streets, at a cost of five thousand dollars, of J. B. Congle, on Sixth street, between Salmon and Taylor, at four thousand dollars, and L Therkelsen, on Market and Ninth streets, at five thousand three hundred dollars.

The following from The Oregonian of that date well illustrates the growth. of the city by comparison of river traffic: “In 1868 eight steamboats, of which two were only used as substitutes, transacted all the passenger and freight business, excepting that by ocean vessels, centering in Portland; and even then were compelled, in order to `make expenses,’ to do all the miscellaneous towage which the river then afforded. This was before the days of either the east or west side railroad, and the little steamer Senator, running between Portland and Oregon City, found it an easy task by making one round trip each day to move all the grain crop of the Willamette Valley and to carry the passengers and general freight of both sides of the river. Now twelve steamers, any one of them larger than the Senator, find profitable business on the Willamette, and sixty cars each day, loaded with grain and passengers, come into our city by two lines of railways.

“Then-the steamboat Cascades, of less than four hundred and fifty tons burden, ran between this city and the gorge from which she derived her name, making one trip each day, and without inconvenience carried all the merchandise required by the people of that part of Oregon and Washington east of the Cascade Mountains and the northern half of Idaho. Now the magnificent boats S. G. Reed and Wide West find steady and difficult work in keeping the warehouses clear. In addition to these, smaller boats are constantly employed in trade along the river bank.


Harvey Whitefield Scott. History of Portland, Oregon: with Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of Prominent Citizens and Pioneers. Portland, Oregon. D. Mason & Company, 1890.

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