Ben Holladay's Portland

01/11/2020 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM PT




  • $12.00  -  AHC Member Price
  • $20.00  -  General Public Price


When Ben Holladay, of Overland Mail and Pony Express fame, arrived in Portland in 1868, the city’s dreams of a railroad were stalled. By 1871 he was building lines toward California on both sides of the river.

The railroad reshaped Portland. No longer was it necessary to build on the river to ship and receive goods. Downtown began to move inland and a new city rose on the east bank. Holladay built the city’s first streetcar line and laid out the large addition that bears his name. He hired thousands of Chinese railroad workers who gave Portland the largest Chinatown north of San Francisco. His planned bridge across the Willamette, thwarted by the financial crises of 1873, was a decade and a half ahead of its time.

A controversial figure with extravagant dreams and legendary appetites, Holladay upended Portland norms and dominated its politics. Ben Holladay’s Portland focuses on the years 1868-1874, the height of his influence as “Oregon’s Railroad King,” a dramatic time in which Portland shed much of its pioneer character on its way to becoming “The Metropolis of the Pacific Northwest”.

Dan Haneckow is the author of Portland Then and Now (2017, Pavilion Books). He is currently writing a book on Portland’s Great Light Way of 1914.


This lecture program is held at the Architectural Heritage Center - 701 SE Grand Avenue


Parking is on-street (free on Saturdays) or in the parking lot on the west side of Grand Avenue between SE Yamhill and Belmont Streets - just to the north of the Urbanite. Thank you to Bolliger and Sons Insurance for sharing their lot with us for our evening and Saturday education programs.


Image: Laying of the first spike for the Oregon & California Railroad in East Portland (1869), Oregon Historical Society, OrHi 6884.

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