1845

It remains a mystery why Asa Lovejoy and Francis Pettygrove platted the town they would name “Portland” with tiny 200-foot blocks. But four years later, adjacent landowner Daniel Lownsdale followed their lead in his addition to downtown—with one exception: he added a string of 100-foot-by-200-foot park blocks (pictured above). Captain John Couch continued the pattern of small square blocks and narrow park blocks to the north, with his own variation: he turned his street grid off the compass points to align with the bend of the Willamette River. The result is a central city in which more than half the land area is free of buildings and every street heads to the river.


January 2, 1895

Portland savors water from the Bull Run Watershed for the first time, thanks to pipes laid down a few years before (pictured above). Health officials notice an immediate, sharp decline in typhoid fever.


1902

Birding clubs from Astoria and Portland merge to become the Oregon Audubon Society, one of the West’s earliest conservation groups. A long, effective history of Audubon advocacy begins with the club’s first president—naturalist and photographer William Finley (pictured)—whose photos of Three Arch Rocks inspire Teddy Roosevelt to turn the Oregon site into the first West Coast bird refuge in 1907.














1903

“No city,” famed parks planner John Charles Olmsted (pictured) tells Portland’s civic leaders, “can be considered properly equipped without an adequate park system.” Olmsted’s vision for a regionwide series of connected parks is largely left to gather dust (see 1981) except for one segment: Terwilliger Parkway, which the city completes. But Olmsted’s assistant, Emanuel Mische, stays on as Portland’s first parks superintendent, designing Laurelhurst Park and the Wildwood Trail in what later becomes Forest Park.














1912

To lure workers to drink fresh water instead of beer, lumber magnate Simon Benson gives the city $10,000 to install 20 bronze drinking fountains. Nicknamed “Benson Bubblers,” they bring the cool taste of Bull Run to Portland’s downtown streets.