Architecture of Portland

Walking through the streets of Portland, it's interesting look at the variety of age and style of adjacent buildings. In many areas of the city architectural style from past to present shows the range of Portland's history for more than a century. If you are intrigued by the character of neighborhoods, and have changed over time, you might enjoy the Library's books about Portland architectural history and online resources that you can use from home.

Here are some starting points for both informal reading and research

Historic Resource Inventory:
Central Library 3rd Floor Humanities North Room Reference (Literature and History): The Historic Resource Inventory shows residential and commercial properties organized by neighborhood, with pictures, information, and bibliographies. Ask the reference staff at the Humanities North desk for assistance.

Sanborn Maps:
View Portland neighborhoods in diagrams from 1880 up to 1950; print out or save closeup images. Sanborn maps show the outlines of properties, with additional detail on a limited basis for residences, but with more detail for commercial buildings. The 1905 Sanborn maps are entirely of the Lewis and Clark Exposition, with considerable detail about the buildings and grounds.

Local Organizations

Architectural Heritage Center:
A local nonprofit architectural preservation organization with many resources for architecture and local history. Take a look at their online map "mashup" project called TagWhat. View information and historical images for buildings in Portland, some with links to structures that existed in prior years but that were demolished to make way for new buildings.

Oregon Historical Society Library:
The Research Library houses more than 32,000 books, 25,000 maps, 12,500 linear feet of manuscripts, 4,000 serials titles, 6,000 vertical files, 18,000 reels of newspaper microfilm, 8.5 million feet of film and videotape, 10,000 oral history tapes, and more than 2.5 million photographs.

Portland City Archives:
The City of Portland's archival records provide important historical evidence of the development of city government since 1851. Significant research subjects documented by the collection include, but are not limited to, urban planning, parks, land use, public works, economic development, public safety and social issues. The collection includes reports and studies, correspondence and memoranda from city agencies, and elected officials, maps and plans, and nearly 750,000 photographic images of City projects and personnel.