Value of Portland Oregon Property

“Between Portland and Astoria, one steamer, much smaller than the boats of today, made three trips each week and did all the job towing on the Columbia below Rainier. On the same route now two large boats ply regularly on alternate days, and over forty tugs and smaller steamers are engaged in towing and general work. ”

The valuation of property reached twelve million two hundred and ninety-one thousand three hundred and fifty dollars. Wheat and flour exports were estimated at a value of about three million dollars. The population was estimated at nineteen thousand one hundred and twenty-eight, but this was undoubtedly an over-estimate, as two years later it was found to be but a little over seventeen thousand. The statistics which we have given of population have been taken from the directories of the consecutive years, and it is probable that owing to the excess of adults, too high proportion of total population to names was assumed.

During 1879 improvements still increased, reaching a value of one million one hundred and sixty-two thousand and seven hundred dollars; consisting of two hundred and seventy-six dwellings, sixteen brick blocks, fifty-eight stores, eight hotels, six docks and warehouses, fourteen shops and stables, two schools, two planing mills, one brewery and the Mechanics’ Pavilion. The buildings of a value exceeding ten thousand dollars may be named as follows: The Union block, by Corbett & Failing, eighty-six thousand dollars; the Esmond Hotel, at the corner of Front and Morrison, by Coulter & Church, forty-five thousand dollars; a block of eight residences on Second and Mill streets by S. G. Reed, forty thousand dollars; the Park school house, on Jefferson street between East and West Park, twenty-nine thousand dollars; a brick block on the corner of Front and B streets by Klosterman Bros., at thirty-five thousand dollars; a residence by C. H. Lewis, on the corner of Nineteenth and G streets, thirty-five thousand dollars; the residence of H. D. Green at the head of B street, twenty-eight thousand dollars; the brewery of George Herrall, on Water street, near Harrison, twenty-five thousand dollars; a wharf between Taylor and Salmon streets by J. F. Jones, twenty-five thousand dollars; the three story brick building on the corner of Front and Columbia streets by Peter Manciet, eighteen thousand five hundred dollars; the new Harrison Street School house, eighteen thousand dollars; a brick block by John Shade, fifteen thousand dollars; the Mechanics’ Pavilion; on the block between Second and Third and Clay and Market, sixteen thousand five hundred dollars; a brick block by H. McKinnell, on Second street between Salmon and Main, thirteen thousand dollars; a residence by Samuel D. Smith, on Twelfth between Yamhill and Taylor, ten thousand dollars; a residence by M. W. Fechheimer on the corner of West Park and Montgomery, fourteen thousand dollars; a residence by J. W. Whalley, corner of West Park and Harrison, ten thousand dollars; a brick block by Mrs. Mark A. King, on the corner, of Third and Alder; a brick block by Dr. R. Glisan, on the corner of Second and Ash, thirteen thousand dollars; a brick block by Chinese merchants on the corner of Second and Alder, twenty thousand dollars; a brick block on the corner of Front and Ash by N. Lambert, H. L. Hoyt and J. W. Cook, twenty-four thousand five hundred dollars; a brick block by Fleischner & Hirsch, on First and B streets, sixteen thousand seven hundred; the residence of J. C. Carson, on the corner of Nineteenth and J streets, ten thousand dollars; tracks for switches and round house of the Western Oregon Railroad, ten thousand dollars; Park school house twenty-nine thousand dollars; and there was spent on the Catholic Cathedral ten thousand dollars more in completion. Many residences and minor business houses of a value of five thousand dollars to eight thousand dollars were also erected. It was during this year that the palatial residences in the northwestern portion of the city began to be erected, converting what was once a dilapidated forest overgrown with brush and wild vines, into one of the most handsome and sightly portions of the city.

The grain fleet entering the river numbered about ninety vessels; this was exclusive of the regular coasters. The steamers registering in the Portland district were sixty, with a total capacity of twenty-seven thousand five ‘hundred and ninety-seven tons. The steamers Oriflamme and John L. Stephens had now disappeared, having been broken up. There were thirteen sailing vessels with a total capacity of six thousand one hundred and four tons. The export of wheat reached upwards of two million centals, valued at over five million dollars. Shipments of wool reached seven million pounds. The catch of salmon was three hundred and twenty-five thousand cases. The gross valuation of property was thirteen million one hundred and forty-three thousand four hundred and twenty-five dollars.

The prospects of growth and business in 1880 were bright, and stimulated not only activity in real estate movements, but in business also. The uncertain and depressing railroad management of Ben Holladay had given away to the more business like and careful regime of the German Company, and plans for the O. R. & N. Railway and for the speedy completion of the Northern Pacific were taking definite and public form. Sales of real estate were considerable, although uncertainty as to the location of the terminal works of the transcontinental line, now expected to be made in North Portland, now in South Portland, and again in Fast Portland, gave a strongly speculative character to this line of trade. Improvements extended uniformly in all portions of the city from the river bank to the city limits, and even beyond them. There were erected thirteen brick blocks and stores; thirty frame blocks and stores, six docks, four manufactories, three churches, two hotels and two hundred and two dwellings at a gross valuation of eight hundred and eighty-one thousand dollars. Those costing ten thousand dollars or upwards are named as follows: Family residence of Capt. George Ainsworth, on the corner of Sixth and Yamhill, fifteen thousand dollars; a residence by the same, ten thousand dollars; improvements to the Zeta Psi block, corner Front and D, ten thousand dollars; the Chinese theater, on Second street, twelve thousand dollars; the Oregon Steam Bakery, by Liebe & Holburg, on East Park and G, fifteen thousand dollars; the building by Labbe Bros., on the corner of Second and Washington streets, eleven thousand dollars; a brick block on Washington street between First and Second, by Richardson & Mann, ten thousand dollars; the three story brick block on the corner of Second and Stark streets. thirty-six thousand dollars; the brick building on First street between Main and Yamhill, ten thousand dollars; the three story building on Third street between Yamhill and Taylor, twelve thousand dollars; the Nicolai House, at the corner of Third and D streets, thirteen thousand dollars; an addition of five hundred feet to the Ainsworth Dock by the O. R. & N. Co., fifty thousand dollars; an addition to the Steamship Dock of the same company, twenty-eight thousand dollars; an addition to the Greenwich Dock by Capt. Flanders, twenty thousand dollars; the Multnomah block, at the corner of Fifth and Morrison, by H. W. Corbett, twenty-eight thousand dollars; the furniture factory of I. F. Powers, twenty-five thousand dollars; a four story residence on Sixteenth and B streets by the Dundee Investment Company., nineteen thousand four hundred dollars; the two story business block on the corner of Second and E streets by J. C. Ainsworth, thirteen thousand dollars; the Stark street ferry boat by Knott Bros., sixteen thousand dollars.

In 1880 the hotels had increased to twenty-nine. Those on Front street were the American Exchange, The Esmond, St. Charles, Commercial, New York and Zur Rheinpfalz. On First street there were the California House, the Eureka, the Globe, the Norton House, the Clarendon, the Occidental, the Oregon, the St. George, the St. Louis, the Thompson House, the Metropolis, Portland and Phoenix. On Second street there were the DeFrance and Richmond House. On Third street there were the Burton House, Holton House and the Nicolai. There were besides these thirty boarding houses, twenty-one restaurants, nine coffee houses and three oyster saloons. There were one hundred and three liquor saloons and ten wholesale liquor houses. There were twenty-four butchers. The whole-sale grocers were seven and the retail grocers fifty-three. The physicians now numbered sixty-seven, the attorneys sixty-three, and editors thirty-four. There were seven sawmills, three flour mills, three box factories, one brass foundry, two soap works, one stove manufactory, four foundries, six iron works, four ferries plying on the river, fifty-seven contractors and builders, three wholesale and twenty retail dealers in dry goods, seven dealers in crockery and glassware, three wholesale and thirteen retail clothiers, three wholesale and ten retail dealers in boots and shoes, and thirty-four commission merchants. Commerce indicated about its previous volume. By the United States census of 1880, the population was found to be seventeen thousand five hundred and seventy-eight. By the Directory of that year it was estimated at twenty-one thousand six hundred.

During 1881 there were spent about one million one hundred and fifty thousand dollars in building. The most important of these were the following: The iron and brick building of W. S. Ladd, at the corner of First and Columbia, costing forty thousand dollars; the Portland Seaman’s Bethel, on the corner of Third and D streets, under the management of R. S. Stubbs, twelve thousand dollars; G. W. Jones’s block, on block 176 in Couch’s Addition; G. W. Weidler’s residence, on the corner of L and Eighteenth streets, costing sixteen thousand dollars; C. P. Bacon’s residence, on the same block as above, ten thousand dollars; residence of W. N. Wallace on Tenth and Salmon streets; residence of Sylvester Pennoyer on the corner of West Park and Madison streets; the three story brick of J. C. Ainsworth on Third and Oak streets, costing eighty-five thousand dollars; the Cosmopolitan block of Reed & Failing, on the corner of Second and Stark; and the residence of J. N. Dolph on Fifth and Jefferson, were the most prominent structures of the year. The Columbia Dock was built by C. H. Lewis, at the foot of N street, at a cost of twenty-five thousand dollars. Commercial statistics showed an increasing volume of business. New interest in the mines of Idaho and of Southern Oregon began to be felt by the capitalists of Portland, and with the prospect of railroad connection to these points, they inaugurated the operations which have since attained such proportions. Manufacturing interests began to concentrate in and about Portland. Weidler’s immense sawmill, with capacity of one hundred and fifty thousand feet per day, led all in the volume of business. Besides lumber, the manufacture of furniture, of boots and shoes, of wagons, of iron and steel implements and machinery, and preservation of fruit assumed appreciable proportions.

In 1882, the extent of improvements rose to an astonishing degree, a total of two million nine hundred and seventy-four thousand six hundred dollars being spent in Portland, Fast Portland and Albina. The more noticeable of these buildings erected were the four-story brick structure of Dolph & Thompson on First street, between Pine and Ash, with dock in the rear, costing two hundred thousand dollars; the First National Bank building on the corner of First and Washington, one hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars; the three-story brick block of Allen & Lewis on North Front street, one hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars; the Calvary Presbyterian Church on the corner of Ninth and Clay streets, thirty-six thousand dollars; the North Pacific Manufacturing Company’s plant and improvements, fifty thousand dollars; the Couch school house on Sixteenth street, between K and L, thirty-five thousand dollars; the Failing school house on First street, between Hooker and Porter, thirty-five thousand dollars; the railroad docks, coal bunkers, etc., at Albina, one hundred and eighty thousand dollars; the residence of Bishop B. W. Morris, corner of Nineteenth and R streets, twenty thousand dollars; residence of R. B. Knapp, on Sixteenth and E streets, thirty-five thousand dollars; residence of Captain G. H. Flanders, on the corner of F and Eighteenth streets, forty thousand dollars. There were many others of elegant design and finish costing twenty thousand dollars and less.

During the year 1884 there were built. seventy-five large dwellings, thirty-six brick houses and blocks, and other buildings, bringing up the total to two hundred and eleven. For business houses there were spent six hundred and twenty-two thousand dollars; for residences, three hundred and forty-nine thousand five hundred dollars; for other improvements, seven hundred and eleven thousand seven hundred dollars, making a total of one million six hundred and eighty-three thousand six hundred dollars.

Fast Portland’s improvements footed up three hundred and forty-one thousand seven hundred dollars, and those of Sellwood and Albina, seventy-five thousand dollars. On street improvements in Portland there were spent three hundred and thirty-four thousand five hundred and fifty-five dollars and seventeen cents. Grace Church was erected at a cost of two thousand five hundred dollars, on the corner of Eleventh and Taylor streets. Pipe organs costing about three thousand dollars each, were placed in two churches.

During the year following there was some decline in improvements, but as there was also a great decrease in the cost of materials, it was a good time to build, and those sagacious and able took advantage of the opportunity to erect some very handsome and costly structures, which have given character and tone to the appearance of the city. Among these may be mentioned the Portland Savings Bank, of brick, on the southwest corner of Second and Washington streets, at a cost of seventy-five thousand dollars; Jacob Kamm’s magnificent brick block on Pine street, between Front and First, eighty thousand dollars; the High School building on Twelfth and Morrison, sixty thousand dollars; M. F. Mulkey’s brick block on the corner of Second and Morrison, forty thousand dollars; Weinhard’s brick brewery, fifteen thousand dollars. R. B. Knapp’s residence built this year, cost ninety thousand dollars; Pfunder’s unique Swiss residence on Ninth and Washington, ten thousand dollars. About two hundred dwellings were erected at a cost of three hundred and ninety thousand dollars. Improvements were made in East Portland to the value of one hundred and two thousand nine hundred dollars, and in Albina of twenty thousand dollars, making a grand total of nine hundred and sixty-four thousand four hundred dollars.

By the State census of 1885, the population of Multnomah county was placed at thirty-five thousand seven hundred and thirty-two; about three-fourths of this should be attributed to Portland.


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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