Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Portland Changes throughout History - but the Drinking Remains

To celebrate the Lewis and Clark centennial Portland businessmen and politicians grappled political power away from the saloon and brothel owners of the North side and began a city wide clean-up of 'illicit activities' such as gambling and prostitution. These activities were never meant to fully disappear, but by 1905 most were well-hidden from public view as the World's Fair convened in the city. Construction of new hotels and apartment complexes, along with the crackdown on vice in the North Side, meant that many who sought beer and whisky without the threat of violence would do so in the more upscale hotels located on the South side.

The saloons remained prosperous in the North side fueled by the working class men of the city, while the hotels of the South side catered to visitors, local businessmen and most of Portland's politicians.

Today is a different story. The remnants of the old North Side were first replaced with manufacturing and inventory warehouses. Later in the 1990's these buildings were renovated into high-end living and workspaces, known now as the Pearl District. The references to the North and South sides of Portland have virtually disappeared, and more often than not the city now divides itself between East and West, with the Willamette River providing the boundary line.

Highlighted in this post are two advertisements taken from old news clippings around the turn of the century for some of the better-known hotels at that time in Portland. These hotels, for many years in the first-half of the 20th century, were the only place people could be legally served hard liquors. It would take new legislation and agreements with liquor distributors in the mid-century before hard liquor was allowed back into the city's taverns and bars.

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