1913

Governor Oswald West successfully sneaks a 66-word bill through the legislature to turn Oregon’s beaches (pictured above) into public highways—in effect, making them public property forevermore. Lawmakers, West later jokes, took the ploy “hook, line, and sinker.” The label “highway” is changed to “recreation area” in 1947.


1913

Eccentric railroad magnate Samuel Hill joins forces with Multnomah County and road engineer / landscape architect Samuel Lancaster to construct what was widely regarded as one of the world’s most beautiful roads—the Columbia River Highway (pictured). “Men from all climes,” Lancaster wrote, “will wonder at [the Gorge’s] wild grandure [sic] when once it is made accessable [sic] by this great highway.”















1915

Simon Benson donates 380 acres surrounding Multnomah and Wahkeenah Falls (pictured) to the City of Portland, effectively turning two of the Columbia River Gorge’s most dramatic scenic resources into a city park.


1920

Olaf Laurgaard, a feisty Norwegian transplant and city engineer, concocts downtown’s first waterfront beautification plan, condemning 18 blocks of rotting docks—called by some “the canker sore of the westside Willamette”—and replacing them with a harbor wall (pictured above), an up-to-date sewer system, and a public esplanade. Irate dock owners delay progress for years, but the project’s 1929 completion transforms the river’s edge into a public right-of-way, making an eventual Waterfront Park possible (see 1978).



1931

Portland takes an early stand against chain stores and big-box retail. In an attempt to keep the local economy strong, the Independent Merchants Association pressures the city council to increase taxes on Piggly Wiggly (pictured above) and Safeway, blaming the stores for economic downturns. It was the first tax of its kind in the country.