Paper pub. date
June 2012
ISBN 9780870716652 (paperback)
6 x 9 inches, 336 pages. B&W photographs. Notes. Bibliography. Appendices. Index.


The Tumultuous Story of Oregon's Most Populous County

Jewel Lansing and Fred Leeson

Covering people and events from 1854 to the present day, this definitive reference on the history, politics, and policy of Multnomah County provides compelling details about public works undertakings and political scandals.

Oregon’s tiniest county geographically quickly grew to be the state’s most populous. Through nearly sixteen decades, Multnomah County’s history seldom has been calm and peaceful. From hangings that turned into grim public spectacles in the nineteenth century to a glaring failure to deal with urban growth in the middle of the twentieth, the county has survived frequent home rule charter changes and several attempts to revamp its structure or merge with Portland’s better-known municipal government.

Highlighted episodes include the construction of the iconic Columbia River Highway between 1914 and 1918, the tragic flooding of Vanport City in 1948, the employee strike of 1980, the library scandal of 1989- 1990, and the same-sex marriage license debacle of 2004.

Historian Jewel Lansing and journalist Fred Leeson make effective use of archival sources, oral histories, newspaper articles, and personal interviews. History buffs and informed Portland citizens will be particularly engaged by the regional trivia and narrative details.

About the author

Jewel Lansing served as the elected City of Portland Auditor from 1983 to 1986 and as Multnomah County Auditor from 1975 to 1982. She is the author of six books, including two about women and politics, and a murder mystery set in Portland City Hall. She and her husband, Ron, a law professor at Lewis and Clark College, have lived in Oregon for more than four decades.

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Fred Leeson is a freelance journalist and adjunct professor of journalism at Concordia Unviersity in Portland. He has reported on Multnomah County government for The Oregon Journal and The Oregonian. He is the author of Rose City Justice: A Legal History of Portland, Oregon.

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