Lewis & Clark Expo Illustrations, 1904

The Sunday Oregonian published these “Park Possibilities of the Lewis and Clark Exposition Site” illustrations in its October 30, 1904 edition. Artist F.A. Routledge created idyllic scenes for the future Guilds Lake site.

SO 30Oct1904(The Oregonian. Retrieved from http://infoweb.newsbank.com)

16 thoughts on “Lewis & Clark Expo Illustrations, 1904

  1. I think the cost of a permanent site was too much and they had to be practical and build a temporary event, with temporary buildings for the most part.

    I doubt it was greed as much as not wanting to lose their shirt building and sustaining the area after the event was over.

  2. Almost all the fairs back then – and many events, like marches through a triumphal arch – had temporary structures, often made of compo (a weird mix of chemicals, plaster, sawdust and hair). They were always designed to be temporary, although they often stayed up longer than planned. Not so much due to greed, but compo is a lot cheaper than a ‘real’ building!

    The ‘White City” of the Chicago Columbian Exposition was huge, and completely ephemeral. 5 or 6 buildings still stand.

  3. Oops – I just looked it up, and the BUILDINGS were made of “staff,” a mix of plaster, fiber and cement. Ornamentation was (and is) made of compo.

  4. Even if the buildings were temporary, the site could have been converted into a park. There was interest in parks at the time, given the Portland Parks Commission hiring the Olmstead Bros in 1903 to create a plan:

    Which specifially calls out at least a portion of the L&C expo site as park possibility:

    If the Lewis and Clark memorial building is erected just north of Wilson street and upon the line of Twenty-eighth street, and if the land between it and St. Helens road cannot be otherwise secured, it would be very desirable for the city to take a block of land there. It will be a particularly agreeable site for a local pleasure ground, if the view over Guild Lake remains unobstructed by factories and other commercial buildings, and its location in connection with the ground of the Lewis and Clark memorial building would enhance the value of both, since they could be used in common by the people as a local park.”

  5. Any plans to conserve Guild’s Lake barely lasted past the end of the Expo:

    Despite some suggestions that the land around Guild’s Lake become a city park, schemes to fill in it began before the fair was even over. During the summer of 1905, developer and former-Colorado Congressman Lafayette Pence first started using water from Balch Creek to wash away the hillsides and develop the Westover Terrace neighborhood. By 1907, Pence—who was working with local and eastern investors—was using flumes to move 1,000 to 2,000 yards of soil a day from the hills into the lake. While legal problems and financial ruin grounded Pence in 1908, a different company took over the project in 1909. Seattle hydraulic contractors Charles Wiley and William Lewis finished the Westover Terrace project, and by 1913, had filled in at least fifty acres of Guild’s Lake for an industrial center near 29th Avenue and Nicolai Street.

    The location was too close to the downtown core to escape the attention of development. If they’d staged it downriver some more it might have had more of a future as a park, but then it would have been that harder for attendees to reach in the first place.

    This sketch leaves out all the mosquitoes, too. 😉 That was one of the most interesting/amusing things I’ve picked up reading this blog, how visitors at the L&C were fairly eaten alive. Guild’s Lake was really a bit of a swamp.

  6. Before the area now called Portland was settled it had numerous above ground creeks and streams, shallow lakes, sloughs, marshes, swamps and wetland areas on both sides of the river. The Willamette River was twice as wide and one third as deep as it is in Portland today. Great portions of the city are built on fill and that is not a good thing in case of a catastrophic earthquake, the fill will liquify.
    The Lewis and Clark Exposition was a great economic boon to Portland and it’s residual positive economic effects were felt up until WWI. The population of Portland increased over 130% in this time frame. A lot of economic activity was a direct result of the Exposition, it’s temporary buildings and structures although long gone, left a lasting legacy to Portland.

  7. As someone who grew up in Brooklyn, NY and loved both Prospect and Central Parks, and was lucky enough to live on an Olmsted-designed college campus for 4 years (in a Renwick building, no less – complete with mansard roof and crenelated trim!)…it makes me want to weep for what could have been. I remember the first time I walked in Laurelhurst Park (designed by a former Olmsted employee, and very much in the Olmsted style) and it just felt…familiar somehow…and I came upon the rock/monument about Mische and his Olmsted connection…and it all made sense…and made me feel so much more connected to my new, awesome home city.

  8. “In addition to taking advantage of beautiful natural scenery,” wrote the Olmsted Brothers in their 1903 report to Portland’s Park Board, “parks and parkways may often be located so as to secure very important sanitary advantages through the improvement of ill-drained areas, particularly low-lying lands on lake shores or along rivers subject to floods…. Such improvements add greatly to the value of the adjoining properties, which would otherwise have been depreciated by the erection on the low lands of the cheapest class of dwellings or by ugly factories, stables, and other commercial establishments.”

    One only has to look at the photos of the area just before the exposition, and John Olmsted’s general plan with the high ground being used for promenade and the natural grade down to water features, to get a sense of what a great park it would have made. Many nineteenth-century parks, including Central Park in NYC, were made from much less promising natural conditions *and* were highly engineered to accomplish scenic effects including greensward and lakes. That the business leaders running the show saw no problem with using millions of dollars from Oregon and the U.S. to exploit the site then turn it over to industry, and planned that outcome from the start, exemplified the priorities that “shaped the city.”

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