The Observatory, 1907 (UPDATED)

Our photograph for today, comes to us from what is thought to be the highest point in Portland, Council Crest. In this image we see the Observatory, which was part of the Council Crest Amusement Park. A City of Portland water tank now stands in its place. The tower was 77 feet tall. Imagine the view you would get from the top!

The Observatory [Council Crest] March 16, 1907 : A2004-002.645

The Observatory [Council Crest] March 16, 1907 : A2004-002.645

View this image in Efiles by clicking here.

Thank you to those who helped us properly identify the location as Portland Heights.

10 thoughts on “The Observatory, 1907 (UPDATED)

  1. This is actually the Lewis & Clark Observatory at the top of Portland Heights, near the end of the cable line. It was opened by Arthur Duchamp in May 1905, just in time for the crowds that swarmed the city for the exposition. He removed this tower and may have used some of the material from it for the one he built on Council Crest a couple of years later.

  2. That is, near the end of the *former* cable line, which itself had recently closed. Visitors reached the Lewis & Clark Observatory on Hawthorne Terrace by way of the electric trolley over the new route utilizing the just-completed Ford Street bridge.

  3. I’m going to agree with Ken. Old photos of the observatory in Council Crest appear to show the structure constructed around a large “tree” trunk, that may have been the remnant of a larger “tree” (there is some doubt that the larger taller tree ever existed). The internal structure of the building in today’s post seems to differ from that in the photos of the Council Crest observation deck.

  4. Here’s a previous VP post showing an illustrated real estate ad from 1904 which shows the location of the tower Ken Hawkins describes. It looks like it was located a little south of what is now the corner of SW Hawthorne Terrace and SW 17th Ave. (though 17th is just an unimproved right-of-way at that corner).

  5. We have multiple views of the towers at Portland Heights and Council Crest in this
    set. I hope to publish a history of the Southwest Hills later this year or 2015, that covers this topic and much more.

  6. I have a postcard taken from a slightly different angle and it clearly states “Observatory Portland Heights.” It was erected just to the east of the Markle greenhouse – there was a small real estate office downhill owned by D.E. Keasey which sold tickets… this house is now
    1741 SW Hawthorne Terrace. City archives include a letter by Duchamp asking City Council permission to post signs on the trolley-wire poles down where SW Elizabeth now meets SW Hawthorne Terrace.

    The tower was removed and placed on Council Crest after the fair (I have images dated late 1906 showing it still on Hawthorne Tr.); as far as any photo or document I have found, the “Big Tree” was never built, but this tower – much lowered – is clearly shown in photos and postcards of Council Crest.

    PS – the ticket office was never a Japanese Teahouse for the L&C Fair, despite claims in a few books to the contrary.

  7. I found a very similar view of the observatory here:

    Which mislabels it as Council Crest, when it is clearly still located on Portland Heights/Hawthorne Terrace. (anybody a wiki editor?) That image comes from this Google Books link:

    Which is a free, downloadable book called “What to See and How to See It”; it’s a 1905 tourist guide to Portland by the Portland Chamber of Commerce.
    128 pages of rabbit holes for all you hardcore VP fans!

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