History of Goose Hollow
Though Portland was itself incorporated in 1851 with a population of a little more than 800 residents, the first house in Goose Hollow was built by Daniel Lownsdale six years earlier. His land claim covered the North end of "the flats" in current Goose Hollow and included what is not King's Hill and Washington Park. Lownsdale operated a tannery on the current site of the Multnomah Athletic Club and JELD-WEN Field. According to historians, this was the first tannery west of the Rockies and North of Mexico. This claim was later purchased by Amos King when Lownsdale bought out Francis Pettygrove's land next to the Willamette river. Thomas Carter's donation land claim was on the South end of Goose Hollow. He built a house at around SW 18th and Clay in 1851 on land now owned by the First United Methodist Church. What is known today as Vista Ridge, was known at that time as Carter's Hill.
A guide to the changing names of places in Goose Hollow can be found here.
The name Goose Hollow was not just plucked from thin air. Various women raised geese in the flood-prone low-lands and gulch, or hollow, around Tanner Creek at the foot of the West Hills. Over time, the flocks of geese became mixed and disputes arose as to who owned the geese. As reported in the Oregonian newspaper in 1875 (uncovered in Tracy Prince's book Portland's Goose Hollow), the "women not only pulled goose feathers, but pulled hair." Police Chief Lappeus sent a deputy out to the hollow to see about the disturbance. The matter got into court, and Police Judge J.F. McCoy, unable to sort out the geese, made a Solomonic decision to split the gaggle and then closed the matter by threatening to incarcerate the "first woman to start another ruckus over geese." The Oregonian first used the name Goose Hollow for this neighborhood in 1879.
But in the 20th Century, the name was lost during a half century of dramatic development in the area. Former Mayor Bud Clark, who has owned a pub in the neighborhood since 1967, chose the name Goose Hollow Inn for his tavern in the interest of rekindling civic regard for the neighborhood and its history. And though residents may no longer be harvesting goose feathers, many reminders of it remain in the area. One can find many images of geese scattered throughout the neighborhood, though an accurate census has yet to be conducted.
The first use of the Goose Hollow name referred only to the lower elevations around the path of Tanner Creek (diverted underground from the 1870s to the early 1900s) and the Tanner Creek Gulch (infilled around the same time period). A gulch is also known as a hollow. However, since the 1970s, the Goose Hollow name has applied to the larger neighborhood of flats and adjacent heights and canyons. Goose Hollow includes the King's Hill neighborhood (designated a Historic District because of its many turn-of-the-century residences), Vista Ridge, Gander Ridge, what was briefly known as the Lownsdale District in the north flats, and of course the old historic boundaries of the Goose Hollow neighborhood in the south flats. The two canyons in Goose Hollow are known as the Cable Car Canyon (between Gander Ridge to the east and Vista Ridge to the west where an enormous cable car trestle once provided the only access to residences on the Heights) and the Tanner Creek Canyon (spanned by the Vista Bridge with Tanner Creek still flowing, although it flows 50' underground.) Gander Ridge and Vista Ridge are at the foot of Portland Heights and at the south edge of Goose Hollow's bowl. King's Hill is on the west side of the bowl. The uptown part of the "flats" -- east of Jeld-Wen Field and north of Lincoln High School -- was once heavily residential in character, then went through a phase of warehouse and light manufacturing activity, but this area has been undergoing redevelopment toward mixed residential/commercial activities. Today, all of these areas are known collectively as Goose Hollow, and are all part of the Goose Hollow Foothills League (neighborhood association). [map]
Historical photos and maps can be found here as part of the Portland Development Commission's (PDC) presentation to the neighborhood of potential urban renewal. Historic information and photos on this page used with permission from Dr. Prince; other pictures in her book include the 1875 Oregonian article "A War About Geese", two images of Tanner Creek running in its banks (before it was buried), and photos of a 36' tall neon goose which once loomed over Collins Circle.
Pages showing artwork in Goose Hollow, a map of where you can find the Goose Hollow banners, and the history of place-names in Goose Hollow are also available. A 2012 article about the history of Goose Hollow can be found here.