PortlandOnline

POL Government Elected Officials Auditor Griffin-Valade Divisions Archives & Records ARCHIVES
1843 to 1901

1843
  
The Original Land Claim
Business partners William Overton and Asa Lovejoy file to claim the land on the west bank of the Willamette River.
 
 
Bureau of
Planning
1843
2-May
 
Provisional government elected
Willamette Valley settlers met at Champoeg to elect a provisional government to formulate laws and elect officers to enforce those laws. At this meeting, William Johnson was elected as High Sheriff becoming the first law enforcement officer.
 
 
Police Bureau
1845
 
The coin toss
Overton sells his share of the claim to Francis Pettygrove. Pettygrove and Lovejoy survey the land, deciding to build a city. Previously called The Clearing, Portland gets its name with the toss of a coin with Pettygrove's home town in Maine winning over Lovejoy's birthplace in Boston.
 
 
Bureau of
Planning
1846
27-April
 
High Sheriff indicted
William Johnson, former High Sheriff, was indicted for "retailing of ardent spirits." The indictment charged Johnson with, "Being moved and reduced by an evil heart, did sell, barter, give or trade ardent spirits."
 
 
Police Bureau
1847
 
Construction begins on Canyon Road
A plank road connecting Tualatin Plains with the City, it allows horse drawn carts to deliver produce from the rich farmlands to the west.
 
 
Bureau of
Planning
1849
 
First Jewish settlers in Portland
Jacob Goldsmith and Lewis May operated a general merchandise store on Front Ave.
 
 
Auditor-
Archives
1850
 
Portland or "Stump Town", consists of a steam sawmill, a log-cabin hotel and the weekly Oregonian. Sidewalks are rough planks and the streets are dirt turning to mud when it rains. Houses are small and simple, only 2 houses in town have a plaster interior.
 
population:
821
Bureau of
Planning
1851
8-Feb
 
City of Portland Incorporated
On February 8, 1851, Territorial Governor John P. Gaines signs An Act to Incorporate, passed as HB 29 by Territorial House of Representatives on January 14.
 
 
Auditor-
Archives
1851
7-Apr
 
First Municipal election
Hugh D. O'Bryant elected Mayor.
 
 
Auditor-
Archives
1851
14-Apr
 
First City Council Meeting
 
council minutes 
Auditor-
Archives
1851
14-Apr
 
First ordinance passed
The common council passed Ordinance Number 1 providing for the appointment of a "competent and discreet person to act as city marshal." Hiram Wilbur was appointed as the first city marshal.
 
 
Police Bureau
1851
Nov
 
First municipal building completed: a jail.
Cost: $135 for two lots of land and $1,200 for construction. It was a sixteen by twenty-five foot wooden structure.
 
 
Auditor-
Archives
1851
15-Dec
 
First public school opened
In the "City Hotel" taught by John T. Outhouse.
 
 
Auditor-
Archives
1852
 
City of Portland plats a right-of-way grid system that still exists. Land for the Park Blocks and public docks are allocated.
 
 
Bureau of
Planning
1853
 
First fire protection companies formed
Vigilance Hook and Ladder company number one July 29 & Willamette engine company number one August 3.
 
 
Auditor-
Archives
1853
 
First brick building erected
A two story structure built by William S. Ladd occupying the SW corner of Front and Stark.
 
 
Auditor-
Archives
1853
 
First Ferry Across the Willamette
The Stark Street Ferry, originally horse powered, operated from 1853 to 1895.
 
 
Bureau of
Planning
1854
 
Ground for Lone Fir Cemetery laid out
 
 
Auditor-
Archives
1855
 
First dog licenses
 
 
Auditor-
Archives
1855
 
First telegraph line
From Portland to Oregon City.
 
 
Auditor-
Archives
1856
 
First water mains
 
petition to lay water pipes 
Auditor-
Archives
1856
 
Black owned mercantile store opened
Corner of Front and Stark, the store was owned by Abner and Lynda Francis and operated until 1960.
 
 
Auditor-
Archives
1857
 
First gas lines
 
 
Auditor-
Archives
1858
17-May
 
First public school building opens
Central School, a two-story wooden building with a cupola on top. By July 23 there were 280 students enrolled.
 
 
Auditor-
Archives
1858
 
Congregation Beth Israel formed
First Jewish congregation in Oregon.
 
 
Auditor-
Archives
1860
 
Steamboats bring Idaho Gold to Portland
Oregon Steam Navigation Company shipping of gold rush bullion demonstrated the role of Portland as freight depot of the Columbia.
 
population:
2,874
Bureau of
Planning
1861
 
First Japanese settler in Portland
Suzuki Kinzo was a political refugee from Yokohama and worked as a lamplighter.
 
 
Auditor-
Archives
1862
 
First Black church organized
The African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church met at Mrs. Mary Carr's boarding house on First St.
 
 
Auditor-
Archives
1864
Nov
 
City Marshal Henry Hoyt hired two deputies to act as what the official records referred to as "Night Spies". This is the first mention of detectives on the force.
 
 
Police Bureau
1865
 
Dredging Equipment Purchased
City paid $42,000 in gold coin for dredging equipment which was later loaned to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for work on the lower Willamette River.
 
 
Port of Portland
1867
7-Dec
 
First Park Blocks officially acquired by the city.
 
 
Auditor-
Archives
1867
 
The "Colored School" opened
A compromise between the school board, who refused integration, and African American residents. 21 boys and five girls.
 
 
Auditor-
Archives
1868
16-Apr
 
First railroad begun
Oregon Central Railroad Company breaks ground in East Portland.
 
invitation to groundbreaking 
Auditor-
Archives
1870
 
Chinatown Established South of Burnside
Chinatown stretched from SW 2nd to SW 4th from Washington to Burnside.
 
 
 
 
Bureau of
Planning
1870
 
The City of East Portland incorporated
 
population:
8,293
Auditor-
Archives
1870
Nov
 
City Police force established
Replacing the City Marshal, the new force consisted of a chief, two captains, and twelve patrolmen.
 
Auditor-
Archives
1871
20-Feb
 
First 41 acres of WashingtonPark purchased.
From Amos N. King and his wife for $32,624. Originally called "CityPark."
 
 
1873
 
First sewer
 
 
Auditor-
Archives
1873
 
School integration
The "Colored School" closed and black students were admitted to the three district elementary schools. In December of 1873, 30 black students were enrolled, spread evenly among 21 classes.
 
 
Auditor-
Archives
1873
2-Aug
 
Major conflagration
The fire originated in the furniture factory of Hurgren and Shindler (corner of First and Salmon). It destroyed 20 blocks and nearly one-third of the business area of the city causing 1.075 million dollars damage.
 
 
Auditor-
Archives
1874
 
First Chinese Christian mission in Portland
on Alder St between 4th and 5th Ave.
 
 
Auditor-
Archives
1874
7-April
 
Chief James Lappeus arrests fifteen members of the "Womens Temperance and Prayer League" for picketing downtown saloons. The women were charged with "Disorderly Praying." The women appeared in court the following day and were found guilty, by an all male jury. They were sentenced to one day in jail.
 
 
Police Bureau
1875
 
Pioneer courthouse completed & occupied
The oldest Federal structure still standing in the Northwest.
 
 
Auditor-
Archives
1875
 
Fire alarm telegraph erected
 
 
 
1879
 
First telephone lines
 
 
Auditor-
Archives
1880
9-Jan
 
A tornado hits Portland
"Killed one or two persons and injured several others."
 
population:
17,577
Auditor-
Archives
1880
 
First electric street lights
 
 
Auditor-
Archives
1881
 
Portland's first known selection standards for police officers were set by city council. The standards read "Applicant must be a U.S. citizen, able to read and write English, resident of Portland for one year, have no criminal record, be of sound mind and body, and be a minimum of 5' 10" in height and weigh 175 lbs."
 
 
Police Bureau
1883
Jan
 
First Paid Fire Department Organized
 
 
Auditor-
Archives
1883
 
Transcontinental Railroad
Northern Pacific enters Portland.
 
 
Auditor-
Archives
1883
 
Great mansions grace the Park Blocks
Meier and Frank and Olds and King establish department stores. The Chowns and Dekums are established in hardware and retail groceries are abundant.
 
 
Bureau of
Planning
1884
21-Oct
 
Palatine Hill water pumping station begins operations
The station could pump 16 million gallons per day to the reservoir at 6th and Lincoln.
 
 
Auditor-
Archives
1885
1-Nov
 
First meeting of the "Water Committee"
 
 
Auditor-
Archives
1886
 
Members of the anti-coolie league burn the shacks of the Chinese market gardeners and dynamite two laundries, giving all the Chinese 30 days to leave Portland. Forced out, many Chinese return to China or migrate to San Francisco leaving only 3,000.
 
 
 
Bureau of
Planning
1886
 
Anti-Chinese factions
Mayor John Gates intervenes against threats to expel the Chinese population from Portland by activating City militias and doubling the police force.
 
 
Auditor-
Archives
1887
 
First zoo opens in Washington Park
 
 
1887
4-Feb
 
City of Albina incorporated
 
 
Auditor-
Archives
1887
 
Steam operated trolleys are introduced
 
 
Bureau of
Planning
1887
April
 
First bridge across the Willamette opens
Cost: $175,000. The first Morrison. A toll of five cents was charged to walk across. At that time it was the largest bridge west of the Mississippi.
 
 
Auditor-
Archives
1888
 
Portland christened the City of Roses
So named by attendees of an Episcopal Church Convention.
 
 
Auditor-
Archives
1888
Feb
 
Bull Run purchased
The Portland Water Committee purchases riparian rights, title, and interest to all land adjacent to Bull Run River.
 
 
Auditor-
Archives
1888
July
 
Steel Bridge
First Steel Bridge opened. The first steel bridge on the West Coast.
 
 
Auditor-
Archives
1888
22-Sep
 
Skidmore Fountain unveiling
Cost: $18,000. Skidmore, a druggist, bequeathed $5,000 for the purpose when he died at 44 of tuberculosis. Oldest piece of public art in Portland.
 
 
Auditor-
Archives
1890
 
Profile of Portland's residents
Population of Portland was 89% white. Census categories included 480 colored, 4539 Chinese, 20 Japanese, and 6 civilized Indians living in Portland. 63% were men; 37% were women; 63% were native born and 37% foreign born.
 
population:
46,385
Auditor-
Archives
1890
 
Portland Hotel
George Markle completes Henry Villard's unfinished Portland Hotel across from the Pioneer Courthouse at 6th and Morrison street.
 
 
Bureau of
Planning
1890
 
City Hall Bonds
Bonds issued for construction of a city hall.
 
city hall bond 
Auditor-
Archives
1890
 
First Electric Streetcar
 
 
Auditor-
Archives
1891
 
The first horse patrol was established in the newly developed Fulton Park area. This was a one-officer patrol that was nearly terminated when the assigned officer was discharged for shooting live pigeons with his service revolver.
 
 
Police Bureau
1891
 
Port of Portland Created
The Oregon Legislature's primary goal in creating the Port of Portland was to improve navigation.
 
 
Port of
Portland
1891
 
Land purchased for construction of City Hall
 
 
Auditor-
Archives
1891
 
Voters Approve the consolidation of Albina, East Portland and Portland as one City of Portland
The City of Albina was originally incorporated in 1887 and East Portland in 1870.
 
East Portland City Seal
Auditor-
Archives
1893
 
Sellwood Annexed to Portland
City of Sellwood, incorporated 1877 - 1893.
 
 
Bureau of
Planning
1894
 
Major Flood of Willamette
High water flooding 250 square blocks, causes merchants near the river to move to higher ground.
 
Downtown street
Auditor-
Archives
1894
 
First African American police officer
George Hardin served until 1915 when he became the first black person hired by the sheriff's office.
 
 
Auditor-
Archives
1894
 
Reservoirs 1-4 completed
1-2 Mt Tabor, 3-4 Washington Park.
 
Washington Park Reservoir
Auditor-
Archives
1895
 
City Hall opens for business
 
 
Auditor-
Archives
1895
2-Jan
 
First Bull Run water flows to the city
Water comes through Conduit 1.
 
 
1896
 
Mayor Sylvester Pennoyer discharged and replaced entire police force. He appointed four different chiefs within a nine-month period.
 
 
Police Bureau
1896
 
Union Station opens
 
 
Auditor-
Archives
1897
 
Donald Macleay donated Macleay Park
Now part of Forest Park.
 
 
1898
 
Mayor William S. Mason replaces the police commission, the chief, and the entire eighty- four member police force.
 
 
Police Bureau
1899
 
Board of Park Commissioners established
The same year that the State of Oregon passed an act to provide for the acquisition of land for parks by cities, under the management of a board of park commissioners, Portlanders voted to establish the Board.
 
 
1900
 
 
 
population:
90,426
 

Historic Photos
Slide Show and Portland Timeline Images
Contact Information
Archives & Records
1800 SW 6th Ave, Suite 550
Portland, OR 97201
phone: 503-865-4100 (new)

 

Questions & Comments
If you have any questions or comments, please contact our site administrator.