Fun Fact #68 Why did St. Johns Seceded from Portland in 1893?

Fun Fact #68 Why did St. Johns Seceded from Portland in 1893?

Fun Fact #68 Why did St. Johns Seceded from Portland in 1893?

Above image c. 1908 A panorama view from a scrapbook of Chief B.F. Dowell’s Scrapbook 4 held by the City of Portland Archives and records center shows the waterfront at St. Johns. Among the businesses pointed out in the picture are: Woolen Mills, Flour Mill, George W. Cone Lumber Company, ST Johns Lumber Company, Shipbuilding Plant, Veneer and Basket Factory, Excelsior Mill and the Dry dock.

St. Johns seceded from Portland in 1893 because of a combination of higher taxes and unsatisfactory municipal services. The St. Johns-Portland love-hate relationship ramped up in 1891. In February of that year, the unincorporated area of St Johns was annexed by the City of Albina. (The City of Albina had been incorporated in 1887.) In a matter of months, on July 6, 1891, Portland, East Portland, and Albina were consolidated into one city. The relationship “failed” and St. Johns seceded from the City of Portland in 1898 with permission of the Oregon Legislature. And then, on February 19, 1903. St. Johns was incorporated as a city. St. Johns did not have tax base an access to clean drinking water to operate as an independent city. A majority of residents voted for the merger; St. Johns rejoined Portland in 1915. The St. Johns affirmative vote to remerge with occurred in unison with its neighbor across the river, Linnton. The voters approved annexations to Portland, increased the land area Portland’s by twenty-five percent.  Once again St Johns expected to benefit from improvements in municipal services by joining Portland proved to be a disappointment. Portland’s increase tax receipts St. Johns businesses residents did not initially enhance the quality of life in St. Johns.

Merger Ballot (There were two layers of the vote- St. Johns residents voted first. This is merger ballot is phase two for Portlanders to vote to expand the city note that the vote tally is in pencil YES 29,957 NO 5160)

During the first year after incorporation, St. Johns residents continued to pay high prices for well water when they had been enticed to merge with the promised use of the Bull Run watershed.  These requirements over inequitable access to the services within the City of Portland continue to be a source for discontent for some St Johns community members.


New Paper Article
For Portland according to The Oregon Daily Journal., April 07, 1915, Page 6, Image 6 the relationship with St. Johns was destiny.


Fun Fact #51 What is the name of the first park in St. Johns?

Image of lots of trees there are people on large swing, sitting down and at least one person leaning against a tree. The image was very small from within a book. Even with the best scan hard to make anything out. Text "Picnic Grounds, Cedar Grove, St. Johns Line

c.1899 View of the picnic grounds in Cedar Grove along the St Johns railroad line. City Archives A2004-002.6027 Note that the females on the far left appear to be on a swing.

Clip of 1905 Sanborn Map of St. Johns showing Cedar Park

Answer the first park in St. Johns was Cedar Park.  You still will get full points if you answered Pier Park which is the oldest remaining park in St. Johns and the first public park in St. Johns. After the timeline there is additional information on Cedar Park.

St. Johns Parks Timeline 

c.1899 Cedar Park 3 acres – 10 acres Location: North Fessenden Pier. Named for the plentiful cedar trees in the park offered for sale $10,000 in 1907 trees cleared in 1909.

1920 Pier Park 87 acres 10325 N. Lombard Street. Named for Stanhope S. Pier in 1921, who served as a Portland city commissioner in the late 1920s and as acting mayor in 1931.

1932 Chimney Park 16.76 acres Location: 9360 N Columbia Blvd. Named the city incinerator chimney that was once at the site.

1941 St. Johns Par 5.77 acres Location: 8427 N. Central St. Named for pioneer James John who settled in the area in 1846.

1968 Cathedral Park dedicated opening in 1980 23.31 acres Location: N Edison Street and Pittsburg Ave. Named for the gothic arches under the St. Johns bridge.

1971 George Park 2.03 acres Location: N. Burr Ave. & Fessenden St. Named for US Congressman Melvin Clark George.

2015 “White Oaks” Location: N. Crawford St. & N. Polk 2.92 acres Former property of Simon Benson’s child, unnamed parked but there are two heritage white oak trees on the property.

More History of Cedar Park

The first park in St. Johns was Cedar Park; a private park owned by City and Suburban Railway Co. Lines Steam streetcars operated by City and Suburban Railway Co. Lines reached St. Johns in 1889. By 1900 the company’s trains arrived at St. Johns every 20 minutes.  Cedar Park was owned by City and Suburban Railway Co. and leased out to various managers over a few years.  There was a station a Cedar Park/Cedar Grove servicing the popular picnic amusement park with 500 electrified lights, a merry-go-round, little miniature railway (moved to Mt. Tabor).  The first electrified trains reached the park in 1903.