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Catalog No. —
OrHi 13134
Date —
c. 1900
Era —
1881-1920 (Industrialization and Progressive Reform)
Themes —
Geography and Places, Transportation and Communication
Credits —
Oregon Historical Society
Regions —
Portland Metropolitan
Author —

SW Morrison & Fifth Streets, c. 1900

A typical turn of the century mix of transportation options is visible in this photograph looking down Fifth Street at Morrison.  Horse-drawn vehicles share the road with two different styles of streetcars and people go about their business beneath poles festooned with electric wires, by now a common sight in the city.  Missing from the city’s landscape is the fifteen-story Meier and Frank building located, eventually, on the corner of Fifth and Morrison streets.  Built in a Roman architectural style, the Meier and Frank building housed both retail and office space beginning in 1909. 

Portland logged the third highest growth of any major American city between 1890 and 1900.  Portland’s business leaders were ambivalent about its growth.  On the one hand, growth meant prosperity, but at the same time, offered the potential to dilute their individual power among city politics and business.  Nonetheless, an optimistic sense of boosterism infused the city.  Portlanders were proud of their city and had every reason to believe that it would continue to grow rapidly.  In area, it was the largest city on the West Coast and, in wheat exports, exceeded Seattle and directly competed with exports at San Francisco.

Further Reading:
MacColl, E. Kimbark and Harry H. Stein. Merchants, Money and Power: the Portland Establishment, 1843-1913. Portland, Oreg., 1988.

Written by Trudy Flores, Sarah Griffith, © Oregon Historical Society, 2002.