Railway Palaces of Portland, Oregon:
The Architectural Legacy of Henry Villard
In 1883, railroad financier Henry Villard brought Portland and the Pacific Northwest their first transcontinental railroad. Earning a reputation for boldness on Wall Street, the war correspondent turned entrepreneur set out to establish Portland as a bourgeoning metropolis. To realize his vision, he hired architects McKim, Mead & White to design a massive passenger station and a first-class hotel. Despite financial panics, lost fortunes and stalled construction, the Portland Hotel opened in 1890 and remained the social heart of the city for sixty years. While the original station was never built, Villard returned as a pivotal benefactor of Union Station, saving its iconic clock tower in the process.
Comments and Praise for Railway Palaces:
“Craghead delivers an evocative, well-documented, and highly readable history of the entrepreneurs who made their fortunes with transportation monopolies and imprinted the city’s collective memory with the iconic Hotel Portland and Union Station. Working from primary sources and memoirs by principals such as Henry Villard and Ben Holladay, Craghead transports the reader back to Gilded Age Portland before it became the Rose City and its history was overtaken by nostalgia. Not since the activist historian E. Kimbark MacColl has the city’s origins in back-room deals by robber barons been presented in such an engaging manner. The book is filled with well-chosen historic illustrations, many from private collections.”
—Dr. Ken Hawkins
The book “…explores in depth the culture and development of Portland, Villard’s arrival and subsequent philanthropy and support of the city, and the issues surrounding the creation of a single unified point of entry for railway passengers. The personalities that shaped these decisions are woven through the story to provide a complete picture of how Portland’s Union Station came to be. Craghead’s colorful recount and analysis of this history are a most enjoyable read.”
—Otto Vondrak, Railfan & Railroad Magazine