By Carl Abbott
Oregon State University Press, $18.95, 192 pages
Today, Portland is known for its micro-brewed beers, unique coffee houses, and a desire to stay “weird”. In the 1840s, Portland was nothing more than a few inhabitants occupying a field of white-washed tree stumps and planked roads, all fiercely competing with established towns such as Oregon City and St. Johns to become the metropolis city of Oregon. In Portland in Three Centuries, author and university professor Carl Abbott takes the reader on a fascinating journey through three centuries of Portland’s history, starting with the native Indian communities of the area, continuing on with the establishment of a port city and the life of its people through some of the major socio-economic events of the twentieth century, and finally, looking at where Portland is going in the future.
While the length of the book is not long, the information included is both interesting and relevant. This is not so much a history of Portland as it is a reflection of how the people of Portland participated and were affected by the historic events taking place around them. Abbott looks at how Industrialization, immigration, the great depression, the great World Wars, counter-cultural protests and Vietnam, and social activism and reform have played a significant part in making Portland into the diversified city it is today.
Reviewed by Cheri Woods-Edwin