City of Roses: The Adventures of Mayor Harry Lane


Mayor Harry Lane, in office from 1905 to 1909, is one of my favorite mayors that Portland ever had. If you’ve never heard of him, you should read the Wikipedia entry on him. Some of his highlights: “Father of the Rose Festival”, pro-suffrage and anti-white supremacy (unlike his grandfather). Oh, and he ended up being a US Senator, too. He hated corruption, and was very hands-on with some of his practices. According to E. Kimbark MacColl in The Shaping of a City (pages 340 – 341), the two incidents drawn in the comic were described by Harry Lane himself and widely reported by others.City of Roses: Mayor Harry Lane Part 1City of Roses: Mayor Harry Lane

Get it while it’s still around

The Virginia Cafe

The Virginia Cafe and Zell's

The Dental Arts Building


The next few months will be your last chance to visit the Virginia Cafe, Rice Junkies, or the fabulously out-dated Zell’s department store. The entire block is slated for demolition within a few months, and will soon give rise to a 30+ story high rise. So much for seventy years of history, and a Park Block that never manifested itself.

Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard: the backstory

Back in October of 1987, Bernie Foster, the publisher of the Skanner, submitted the signatures of 3,000 Portlanders and a thousand dollar check to the city in order to facilitate re-naming a street to Martin Luther King Jr. The city took the signatures and the money, and formed a committee to look into the project. The committee specifically looked at re-naming Front Avenue, Union Avenue and Fifth Avenue. By late December of the same year, the city’s panel determined that re-naming Front would not be feasible, as only nine respondents were for it, while 216 were against it. City Auditor Barbara Clark noted that the primary reason wasn’t racism, but that “Front Avenue really means something”. Another source noted that Front Avenue was one of the city’s oldest street names [which is true: it was a name on the original plat, and survived through the two major street re-namings]. Interestingly, Front was re-named “Naito Parkway” in 1996.

After that, the Committee (it’s official title was the Martin Luther King Boulevard Committee) set its sights on Union Avenue. By November of 1988, they had submitted an application, but had not gotten any sort of sign off by the seven neighborhood associations and two business districts that needed to be involved by the requirement of city policy. In lieu of the sign off, the committee was then requested to produce 3,000 signatures in support of the name change. After that had been gathered, the application would be reviewed by three historians, and the city auditor would conduct a survey of property owners on Union Avenue.

It was estimated that a name change would cost $90 per approximately 100 intersections.

By late March of 1989, the proposal had passed the board of historians (Carl Abbott, E. Kimbark MacColl, and Stanley Parr [as a digression, I own books by two of these guys]) who noted that Union was named in honor of the victorious side of the Civil War. Still, there was little endorsement from the different neighborhood associations. Hosford-Abernethy was the only one to give full endorsement, and one of the other two endorsers – the Central Eastside Industrial Council – only signed on to neutrality. The third endorser was the Metropolitan Service District, who represented the newly-built Convention Center. They thought that the name change would create an impression of a multicultural city. The Portland Planning Commision supported the name change.

By mid-April of 1989, the City Council was having hearings on the subject, and most of City Council was in favor. Mayor Bud Clark noted “the Emancipator of the 1860s was Abraham Lincoln. The Great Emancipator of the 20th Century was Martin Luther King.” Commisioner Bob Koch was the one dissenting voice, noting that he didn’t think that a street in a state of disrepair would be appropriate to be named after Dr. King. In the late 80s, the street was primarily associated with drug dealing, decay, and prostitution [which is pretty much what I think of it when I think about it these days – as a dedicated pedestrian, it is one of the few streets that I feel nervous when walking down, especially past Fremont and before Alberta]. Other factions argued that the symbolic name change would serve as a force to clean up the street. During the surveying for the name change of Union, only 15% of respondents were in favor of the name change. The City Council decided on a vote for it, although the neighborhood associations still hadn’t signed off in favor of it, which was a requirement of city policy. Then-commisioner Earl Blumenauer noted that the idea had been “grandfathered” in because the committee was organized before the policy.

One week later, the council voted unaminously in favor of the change. Commisioner Koch tried to insert a resolution insuring that more funds would be directed to the development of Northeast but this was dismissed under the auspice that it would happen anyway. Bernie Foster, the initiator of the plan, was pleased, while many other people weren’t.

By late May of 1989, there was a coalition calling themselves Citizens to Save Union Avenue that were trying to force a public vote on the issue. They did not garner enough public signatures for a referendum, but they decided to continue with an initiative.

From here, I’d go on with the story – it involves a lot of people unhappy with the name change, and their lack of success in changing it, but I’m kind of tired, and need to be up for work early tomorrow. If you want to know more, the process is easy enough as long as you have a Multnomah County library card. All you need to do is log on to and go to their database section. From there, you can find digitized versions of the Oregonian from late 1987 onwards. It’s a great resource. If they had an 1850 to 1987 section, I’d be busting out a lot more comics, but I suppose I’d also have more competition. Anyway, check it out.

Also, in my past posts (especially with the comics), I haven’t cited sources. From here on out, I will be citing sources for any of my historically-attained materials. When I first started doing all of this stuff, I didn’t realize that I was actually doing any sort of academic work. Now that I know, I should be held up to scrutiny. Anyway, uh… have fun!

Lane, Dee. “King Committee Turns to Union Avenue” The Oregonian, 24 December 1987, B01
Mayer, James. “Dream Fall’s For Street’s name Change” The Oregonian, 14 January 1989, D01
Mayer, James. “Union Avenue Isn’t Burning For Name Change” The Oregonian, 24 March 1989, E02
Mayer, James. “Switch From ‘Union’ To ‘King’ Endorsed” The Oregonian, 29 March 1989, C03
Mayer, James. “City Council Supports Union To King Change” The Oregonian, 14 April 1989, A01
Mayer, Jmes. “City Council Votes To Rename Union” The Oregonian, 21 April 1989, D01
Mayer, James. “Proponents of Union Avenue Fall Short” The Oregonian, 23 May 1989, C05

Cesar Chavez Boulevard

I never understood why Portland Boulevard was named that; it was just too far from the heart of Portland to make much sense to me. I admit, I’m still getting used to it now being called Rosa Parks Way, and I often slip in forgetting to state the new name when I am referring to the street. Anyway, now there’s all of this controversy regarding the re-naming of Interstate to Cesar Chavez. Personally, I’m on the fence about the idea. On one hand, I’m very much for the idea of honoring the former labor leader – I think it’s an important idea – yet, on the other hand, I question the method of how this is being done, and wonder why it’s being applied to a street that already has a historic name and exists in an area that has little to do with the man in question. Maybe some place in Produce Row would be more relevant? Or perhaps somewhere in the Northwest Industrial Triangle? I don’t really have any good suggestions.

What I do wonder, though, is how many of these proponents and opponents involved remember that MLK Jr Boulevard was once named Union Avenue? Union was named, I believe, in order to honor the uniting of Portland proper with the then-city of East Portland. The change to MLK makes symbolic sense to me. What I an curious, and unknowledgable about, is how that renaming process was initiated, and what the public reaction was. This renaming happened less than twenty years ago, and doesn’t seem to have incurred any long term pain.

Regardless of whether it remains Interstate or becomes Cesar Chavez, I know one thing for sure: by 2025, people will call it whatever’s decided, and no one will remember what the drama was all about.

Overheard on the Trolley

On my way home from work on Sunday, I notived the Vintage Trolley coming down the MAX lines, and decided to catch it to its terminus over at Lloyd Center.  I like the trolley a lot; I enjoy its rumble, the big windows, the comfy seats, and most of all, the trolley conductor that points out interesting facts along the ride. The trolley conductor is kind of a Portland booster, extolling all of the things that make our city great, and dispensing interesting historical anecdotes. On this particular ride, however, the conductor talked aboutsomething that didn’t quite sit right with me.

As we were coming to the dip in the tracks that go underneath the Morrison Bridge, the conductor started talking about how that was the original location that Pettygrove and Lovejoy started clearing out for the future town. Okay, sounds about right. Next, he started talking about how that little dip was the original elevation of the land, and that due to flooding, they did infill all around the area. The original elevation bit seemed plausible, but what about this infill? He then went on to say that they did this around the time the seawall was built in 1929, and that in doing so, they buried the first floor of all of the original buildings, so that all of the ground floors that we were seeing were actually the second floors. Uh… HUH? That’s the first time I ever heard anything like that. Upon hearing this, I was surprised and skeptical, but didn’t outright disbelieve it – I’ve only lived in town for seven years, so there’s plenty about the history of the city that I don’t know. I was mulling this over, wondering if I’d heard him correctly, when we started passing the New Market Theater. At this point, he now tells everyone on the trolley that the floor of the New Market that we are seeing as the ground floor is actually the second floor because of this burying business. What?

For about two seconds, I thought to myself, My God! How could I not know that?? Then the guy started talking about Skidmore Fountain, and I realized that his statment about the buildings being buried couldn’t make sense, since the Skidmore Fountain is at ground level. If there is any truth at all to this, then this supposed infill would have had to happen between 1872 (when the New Market was built) and 1888 (when the Skidmore Fountain was dedicated). I decided not to believe any of it when he started talking about how the Skidmore Fountain was built by Stephen Skidmore (it was bequeathed by Stephen Skidmore) and that he selected the sculptor for it (that was C.E.S. Wood that commisioned Olin Warner).

The more I thought of all of this, the more it bothered me. For starters, all of the ground floor architecture looks like ground floor architecture. Second, if there was just one point in downtown that wasn’t filled, why was it conveniently done where the MAX would one day run underneath the Morrison Bridge? Third, where did this guy get this information? If anyone has some knowledge of this supposed “infill”, could they let me know? This whole thing sounds pretty fishy to me.

Anyway, aside from this, the conductor seemed like a really nice gentleman. I don’t know if I want to ride on the Vintage Trolley with him again.

ps – more comics coming soon.

The Leo Lange Postcard – Update No. 2

Well, I got a little more creative with my searching yesterday, and checked out the database “America’s Obituaries and Death Notices” at the Library. I found Kenneth Lange’s obituary first. And I thought his mother’s obituary was vague: 

Chicago Tribune, February 24, 1983
“Kenneth W. Lange, beloved husband of Lois, nee Driggs; fond father of Susan (Samuel R.) Lewis and Robert G. (Mary) Lange; grandfather of three; brother of Robert E. Lange. Memorial seervice Friday 2pm at Union Church of Hinsdale. Memorials preferred to Glenwood School for Boys, Glenwood, Ill., or American Heart Assn.”

Wow, thanks Chicago Tribune! I’m so glad that you included all those vibrant details about his life! You know, like those finer nuances of, um, date of birth, age at death, how he spent his life… sheesh. Anyway, at least it was some sort of information to go on.

Utilizing the same database, I found Robert Lange’s obituary in the Oregonian, which is weird, because I wasn’t able to find it when I did a previous search through the Oregonian specific database. Anyway, at least the Oregonian gives us some interesting information:

The Oregonian, September 4th, 1991

“At his request, no services will be held for Robert E. Lange of Portland, who died of heart and kidney problems on Friday in a Portland nursing home. He was 76.
“He was born on April 4, 1915, in Portland and graduated from Grant High School in 1933. Mr. Lange worked as a salesman and manager at Eoff Electric Co. in Salem and Portland for 40 years before retiring in 1980.
“He married Ruth Kincaid on October 2, 1953, in Portland.
“He also was editor of the National Historical quarterly magazine, We Proceeded On, published by the Lewis & Clark Trail Heritage Foundation, from 1974 to 1987. Mr. Lange served on the library acquisition committee for the oregon Historical Society.
“Survivors besides his wife include a sister-in-law, a niece and a nephew.
“Disposition will be by cremation.
“The family suggests that remembrances be contributions to the Lewis & Clark Trail Heritage Foundation, the Oregon Historical Society, or the Boy Scouts of America.”

Robert Lange sounds like a guy that I’d be interested in sitting down and having coffee with, assuming that I had a time machine and could go back a couple of decades. Anyway, it looks like I’m now on the hunt Susan Lewis or Robert G. Lange. Given that Leo died so young, I wonder if they ever met their grandfather? Would they even care about having this postcard? Assuming they’re alive, maybe I’ll find out. We’ll see how I do at tracking down the (theoretically) living.

The Leo Lange Postcard – An Update

(for the back story about the postcard, click here.)

Well, I’ve come to a bit of an impasse in my searching for existing family of Leo Lange. I’ve found his wife’s obituary, but can’t find further mention of his sons in the Oregonian or online. I think that I’m going to have to get a little more creative in my search methods. Anyway, here’s Josephine’s obituary:

“Funeral for Mrs. Josephine M. Lange, 71, of 1000 SW Vista, who died in Lovejoy Hospital, Thursday, will be Monday at 10 a.m. in Colonial Mortuary. Cremation will be at Portland Memorial.

“Mrs. Lange, who was born June 13, 1889 at St. Joseph, Mo., was the widow of the Leo R. Lange, consulting engineer.

“She was active in the early organization of the Parent-Teacher Assn. in Portland and was an American Red Cross worker.

“Survivors include two sons, Robert, of Portland, and Kenneth, of Houston, Texas, and two grandchildren.”

Maybe the most relevant clue in this frustratingly vague obituary is that Josephine was actually born in St. Joseph, where Leo was. This sure would seem to put the kibosh on the idea that they met while he was over in Hawaii. Childhood sweet hearts maybe?

The End of the Hungry Tiger

I was just reading Jack Bogdanski’s post about the upcoming demise of the Hungry Tiger, which reminded me that I’ve been meaning to do a little writing on it here. In 2004, I participated in one of Red76’s Laundry Lectures, and did it next door to the Hungry Tiger at the F & I U Wash. It was the first of a handful of site-based history lectures I’ve given, and I own a copy of the lecture on DVD (although I’ve never been brave enough to actually pop it in and watch it). I’ll miss the Tiger, and that building itself, the decrepit monstrosity that it had become. 

I’ve been going through and organizing a lot of old notes at my new apartment. Later this week, I’ll try to find my 28th & Burnside notes and post my own proper eulogy to that property.

The Leo Lange Postcard

Last week, I wrote about my postcard shopping in Richland, Washington, and mentioned a postcard that I’d bought written by a man named Leo Lange. There were two reasons that his postcard stood out to me from the others that I would eventually buy: 1) it had a photo of the Willamette that I’d never seen before, and more importantly, 2) he had his return address on the card, verifying that he was actually a Portland resident, rather than someone that was just visiting. Here’s the front and back of the card:

The text of the back reads:

“Portland, Oregon 1/20/12
Dear Cap. I saw a picture of your boat stuck in the ice. You should come out here where it never freezes. This picture doesn’t show the steamboats but the river is usually crowded with them. Lots of big steamers come in here too. The river is from 40 to 70 ft. deep.
Leo Lange
363 6th Street

Capt. H.J. Stewart
c/o Premier Sand Co.
St. Joseph, Mo”

As far as I can tell from the front of the card, the sailboats are about where the RiverPLace marina is now, or maybe a little further South of there. I’m basing that off of my belief that Ross Island is the left side of the background, and Marquam Hill is in the right side. I can’t find any evidence that would confirm this, but I also can’t think of any other location in town that would have that background.

When I first purchased the card, I guessed that Leo was probably from St. Joseph initially, and that he’d probably moved out here somewhere between 1905 and 1912, when the big post-Lewis and Clark Centennial population boom was going on. I imagined that maybe he was also some sort of sailor or dockworker based on his writing to his friend. The 363 6th Street address would not have been a reference to being 3 blocks from Burnside, because this was sent before the street re-naming of 1932, and would have put him closer to where PSU is now.

Resolving to find out more about Mr. Lange, I went down to the Central Library after I got back to town earlier this week. I didn’t find any “Leo Lange” in the 1912 City Directory, although I did find a “Leo Lang”, who resided at 363 6th St. I found him with the correct spelling in 1913, working as a draftsman and living at 897 1/2 E Ash, but then I couldn’t find him under either spelling in 1911 or 1914, and I got a little sad, thinking that maybe he lived here for such a brief time that I wouldn’t find anything out about him. I randomly pulled out the 1932 City Directory, but he wasn’t listed in the 1932 directory at all. Despondent, I decided to give it one more shot, and grabbed the 1928 Directory. And there he was: Leo R Lange, engineer, 602 Spalding Building, residence 687 E 32nd Ave N. He had a wife named Josephine. I wondered why I hadn’t been able to find him in 1911 or 1914, and I imagined that maybe he hadn’t moved here until late 1911 or early 1912. I checked the 1910 Directory, and after finding no sign of him, figured that my first thought must have been the case.

I was running low on time at the Library that day, so I decided to cut to the chase and see if his name was listed at all in the Oregonian card catalog. Most folks I look up aren’t listed in the catalog unless they had a published obituary; the card catalog doesn’t reference death notices. This makes looking up random past Portland residents a bit of a long shot, but with Mr. Lange, I hit pay dirt: I found his obituary from April 15th, 1932 (explaining why I didn’t find him in the City Directory published later that year). Here it is:

Leo R. Lange Well Known Consultant Here
Funeral Services Will Be Held at 3:30 p. m. Today: Widow and Sons Survive.
Funeral Services will be held at 3:30 o’clock this afternoon from the Holman & Lutz chapel, East Fourteenth street and Sandy boulevard, for Leo R. Lange, 42, past president of of the Oregon section, American Association of Engineers, and a director in the Professional Engineers of Oregon Association, who died at a local hospital Wednesday.

Mr. Lange is survived by his widow, Josephine M. Lange; two sons, Robert Ernest and Kenneth Wilson Lange, both students at Grant High School; and by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. L. C. Lange, Kansas City, Mo.; and a brother, Ernest Lange, Fairfield, Ia.

Mr. Lange was born in St. Joseph, Mo., June 13, 1889, and came here in 1911. In 1913 he went to Honolulu and returned in 1915. For the past 12 years he had been a consulting mechanical engineer.”

So there’s our man, Mr. Lange. I haven’t looked for his wife’s obituary yet, but I’m currently assuming that they met in Hawaii, because she’s listed as his spouse in all of the City Directories from 1915 onward. I hope Josephine’s obituary will provide more clues about who they were. I looked through the rest of the City Directories to-day, and saw that between 1915 and 1923, they lived in at least three different residences before finally settling in at 687 E 32nd Ave N. in 1924. The obituary raises other questions: why did he move out here? Why did he go to Hawaii? Why didn’t he fight in WWI? Why did he die so young (he was 43)? My next step is too look for his wife’s obituary, and then the obituaries of his sons. Maybe there is a grandchild out there that might have a better use for Leo’s postcard than I do.

The Richland Postcard Score

So to-day is my only day off here in Richland, Washington, and I took advantage of it by visiting the three antique stores within walking distance. I dropped fifteen dollars and came back to the hotel room with ten postcards, seven of which were sent to someone. Here’s the text of the cards I got:

  1. Front: “Chamber of Commerce, Portland, Oregon”]Oct. 2, 1907
    Dear Clara;
    I have not heard from you for a long time. How are you and your sister. 643 Milwaukie St. Essie Shurie [sp?]     

    Miss Clara Miller
    901 Sixth St. cor Madison
    Oregon City, Oregon


  2. [Front: “Fountain, City Park [Now Washington Park – Khris], Portland, Ore.”]
    [postmark: August 31, 1911]
    How do you like this Sylvia? The flowers are no prettier than at home now. Only a few roses in bloom. The park is lovely. Mrs. Bruin. 354 Sacramento St., Portland, Ore. Am on steamer bound for Hood River.     

    Miss Sylvia Finley
    2021 Second Ave.
    Butte, Mont.


  3. [Front: “Forestry Building, Portland, Ore.”]
    Portland, Oregon
    I was so sorry not to see you before leaving. Mr. Moore said you didn’t know when we intended going. I was sure I told you the first of June. We enjoyed the Rose Festival. Francis has gone to Roseburg – we expect to go on to Los Angeles but I may back out the last minute and go to Roseburg too. Hope you are well and happy. Yours, E. Browne.
    June 12, 1911     

    Mrs. Frank Moore
    Vollmer, Idaho


  4. [Front: “Rose Hedge, Portland, Oregon.”]
    8/21 [1909]
    I picked as big a bunch as I could hold & wished for everyone I knew so I could give them out. Am going to be on the Pacific Ocean for three days, starting this morning. Love to you, Miss Richards     

    Miss Ruth Kellum
    RR 12
    Mallot Park, Indiana


  5. [Front: “An East Side Residence and Garden, Portland, Oregon.”]
    Dec. 13, 1908
    Hello Dannie,
    Your card came to hand and was very much surprised, for I thought you had forgotten this kid long ago. Yes I had a pertty [sic] good time so far this winter, are you going to school this year? I’m glad that you enjoyed your self at our party. I hope all of them had a good time. Tillie S.     

    Wishing you all a merry Xmas and a Happy new year.

    Mr. Dannie Jones,
    Newberg, Oregon RFD #2


  6. [Front: “U.S. Custom House, Portland, Oregon.”]
    I received your card a few days ago so I will answer. I certainly was glad to hear from you, I hope you will answer this one as soon as you did the other one, I am[?] not choice about what kind of card you send me. I want you to have your picture taken and send me one please. Now be sure and have your picture made and send me one by return mail. I am ready for that ride any Sunday Afternoon. Your Sincere Friend, Kate Harton, RFD #2, Henderson, N.C.Mr. Perry E. Lee
    Doylestown, Ohio,
    RFD #2  
  7. [Front: “Interstate Highway Bridge Over Columbia River, Between Portland, Oregon and Vancouver, Washington”]
    Vancouver Wash. Gen. Del.
    April 7 [1948]
    Dear Elva,
    We are enjoying the nice weather. Lots of rain but at least it don’t pile up like the snow in Dak. Leo Smith passed away. 1/2 hr after we got here. Mar 23. We will meet Grace in Eugene Ore. Tues. 620 PM. Saw lots of people that used to live in Dak. Plan to call on Ethan[?] when we go up north. Write and give me the low down on whats going on. How is Ole? Sorry to miss the shower[???] on Nortons. Write. Love, Della & F.W.     

    Mrs. J.J. Nolsted
    Cogswell, N.D.

When I get home, I’ll try to remember to scan these postcards in so you can see the fronts of them, and if I get really ambitious, I’ll scan in the backs as well.

On a final note, as it relates to my last post and my experiences in antique stores, a word of advice to antiques mall vendors: If it says “collectible” or “collector’s edition” anywhere on the original package of the mass-produced, made in Hong Kong crap that you’ve bought, it will never be collectible! I don’t know how many “collectible” Hot Wheels I saw to-day…

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