Friday, November 2, 2012

A Favorite Spot for a Photograph


 
Anyone who has seen many of the collectable old postcards of Portland from the late 1880s up into the early 20th century has seen a view described as the "Lower Harbor." This view usually has some tall ships in the center, a steam tug or two, and the grain docks on the west side and the Albina side. One the west side these will be in this order: Albers, Greenwich, Columbia No. 1, with lumber docks in the misty distance. On the Albina side the docks are in this order: Victoria, Irving, Columbia No. 2, and 1, Montgomery No. 1, and 2, with more of the long grain warehouses in the distance. If the photo is a good one, Portland Flouring Mills will be seen afar off by the east ship channel next to Swan Island.
A casual observer might mistakenly take them for the same photo, but the vessels are always different. It doesn't take a history detective to figure out that these were all taken from the upper span of the first Steel Bridge, which means they were all taken after 1888. A photo from the middle of the river taken from the upper deck or mast of a ship would have been very difficult in those days since it was necessary that the camera and subject be completely still while the image was being exposed. I haven't counted how many of these I have in my collection, but they are quite common, and can usually be found on Ebay for a pretty low price, considering how cool they are. This first one is my favorite, and although there is no date, I have a feeling it is the oldest. The ones with a passing Albina Ferry are the hardest to find, so if you see one, please don't out bid me.

And now for something completely different:
My book, Portland's Lost Waterfront: Tall Ships, Steam Mills, and Sailor's Boardinghouses has hit the stores, from History Press (the publisher), to Powells City of Books, to Amazon, to Barnes and Noble, and more. It is my (not so well kept secret) hope that the book will do well enough for me to continue on with the project and write another book covering the period from WWI to the present (or close to it).

The early days of the Portland waterfront were filled with incredible events, and larger than life figures. But the 20th century may even have better material that has yet to see the light of day in this new 21st century. The years I spent on the waterfront contain some incredible (nearly unprintable) stories. So this is my little appeal to encourage anyone who enjoys this blog to consider buying a copy of this first book in hope that there may be another to follow.