Synopses & Reviews
Shore-bound sailors, rich ruffians, corrupt politicians, sketchy footpads and pitch-stained loggers let civic decency rot in favor of bawdy whorehouses and grogshops.
In its youth, Portland, Oregon, combined rough-and-ready logging camp with gritty, hard-punching deep-water port. Lusty lads dallied with hard-eyed beauties in dark alleys, and crimps and captains bartered in blood money for the drunk and drugged.
From the seedy waterfront to the notorious North End, Portland's sin sector offered vices packaged in pint glasses and perfumed corsets. Establishments like Nancy Boggs's floating bordello and city police chief James Lappeus's Oro Fino Saloon beckoned to the city's wastrels and grifters, votes could be bought for the price of a pint and Bunco Kelly's Mariner's Rest fronted a shanghai operation.
Join Finn J.D. John of the "Offbeat Oregon" column as he reveals the roughest, most colorful era of Portland history, when the Rose City developed an international reputation for violence and lawlessness.
Tucked away in the northwestern frontier, Portland offered all the best vices: opium dreams, gambling, cheap prostitutes, and drunken brawling. In its early days, Portland was a "combination rough-and-ready logging camp and gritty, hard-punching deep-water port town," and as a young city (established in the late 1840s) it developed an international reputation for lawlessness and violence. In the early 1900s, the British and French governments filed formal complaints about Portland to the US state department, and Congressional testimony from the time cites Portland as the worst place in the world for crimping. Today, tours of the alleged Shanghai Tunnels offer Portland visitors a taste of that seedy past.
About the Author
Finn J.D. John (finnjohn.com; on Twitter, @offbeatoregon) is from Oregon's north Willamette Valley and is a graduate of Central Catholic High School in Southeast Portland. Since 2008, Finn, a longtime newspaper reporter and editor, has produced a weekly syndicated column titled "Offbeat Oregon History," which is published in 13 different Oregon community newspapers around the state.
Finn teaches New Media Communications at Oregon State University and is a public historian by avocation. He maintains a Web site at offbeatoregon.com as both a public-history resource for the public and a laboratory in which to experiment with trans-media franchise building and social media tools. Currently the Offbeat Oregon franchise includes a daily RSS news feed and iTunes podcast feed optimized for smartphone use, an active Facebook page, and a Twitter feed; future plans include an Instagram account and a YouTube channel.
He is currently working on a narrative nonfiction book about ex-president and former Oregonian Herbert Hoover who, before becoming the most hated president of the 20th Century, saved the entire nation of Belgium from starving to death during World War I.
Finn lives near Albany with his wife, Natalie, and son, Nathaniel.