Ever find yourself wondering about Portland’s historic relationship to other towns in Oregon?

Sure, these days it’s by far the largest city in the state now.  Its restaurants get written up in the New York Times.  It has become famous for beer and bikes. There’s even a popular TV show that makes fun of it.

But what about in the past? How did people in Baker City, Klamath Falls or Coos Bay relate to the Rose City?

Truth is, more than a century ago, the competition to become the big kahuna city in Oregon was wide open.  Portland was usually out front, but lots of other cities and towns gave it competition for being the region’s center of culture and commerce.

If you’d like to hear more on this topic, here’s your chance.  Dr. Carl Abbott, recently retired from Portland State University after more than 30 years at the school, is going to be present “It’s Not Just Portland: Cities and Towns….and Steamboats and Railroads.”  He will be adressing this very topic Monday evening at McMenamins Kennedy School in Northeast Portland.  

An OHS calendar item describes Abbott’s presentation as follows:

“Portland may be the largest city in Oregon, but it has had plenty of competition since the 1840s. As steamboats and then railroads tied the Pacific Northwest into the national economy, cities in different corners of Oregon experienced booming growth.

“Carl Abbott will present a lecture and slideshow that will start and end with a brief history of Portland, but will make brief stops along the way in cities as far apart as Astoria, Klamath Falls, and Baker City as he traces the development of a statewide system of cities and towns.”

The event is part of the Oregon Historical Society’s History 101 project.  It will begin at 7 p.m. with the doors opening at 6 p.m. Kennedy School is at 5736 N.E. 33rd Ave.  There is no admission charge.

Check out the Oregon Historical Society’s online calendar for more information on this and other events.

— John Killen

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