Home History School | Time Capsule

If a picture is worth 1,000 words, here’s one that sums up Home History School so nicely, sent by an AH reader who has been out seeking hidden horses. Thanks Carla. Yes, this horse is wearing a mask.

On Mondays around here we’ve been providing activities and tools to get kids of all ages (even us big kids) exploring the history of our neighborhoods.

  • We started by encouraging history detectives to search out and meet the ubiquitous Elwood Wiles, whose name is on sidewalks all over the eastside from 1910-1915.
  • We suggested tools for figuring out the story of your house, including finding your earliest plumbing permits and your old street address.
  • Discovering your nearest streetcar route and considering what the streetcar meant to our neighborhoods came next.
  • We went on safari to neighborhood schools with 1924 maps in hand, and tales of school buildings long gone.
  • Our oldest residents—our trees, and in particular our Heritage trees—came next with walks, tree ID keys and stories of the Pearson Pine.
  • And then the horses: thinking about what horses meant to these neighborhoods. They were fundamental to our early life and the energy they invested still shapes the ground we walk. Their plows and wagons build the eastside grid.

So in our last regular Home History School post, we turn the table a bit today with a look forward: what will the future understand about the pandemic that has turned our lives upside down here in 2020?

This week’s focus is on what you’re doing to record your own thoughts and observations and how you will pass them forward to the future. Check it out:

Time Capsule

Home History School | Hidden horses

There was a time when Northeast Portland neighborhoods were alive with horses.

In the early days, they plowed the fields. Later, they built the streets, delivered the groceries, brought the fuel that heated our houses and the ice that cooled the kitchen ice box. Carted out the garbage. Hauled in building supplies and new furniture. Brought families here and there.

You name it: horses were essential to the early days of these neighborhoods and were as common a sight as a car is today.

Horses and men grading Regents Drive at the top of the hill near The Alameda (as today’s Alameda Street was known), taken in May 1909. From an advertising brochure produced by the Alameda Land Company.

Even though horses haven’t walked these streets for about 100 years, there is a silent herd slowly returning to remind us (with a smile) of just how common horses were to making our lives work way back when. This week’s Home History School contemplates the early role of horses in our neighborhoods and gets us all searching for the hidden herd you might be able to find on your street or just around the corner. Check it out:

Hidden Horses

Home History School | Oldest Living Residents

Each Monday this spring, we’re providing a weekly focus on local history explorations for kids of all ages that include activities and questions to get you going. This week, we’re focused on our neighborhoods’ oldest living residents…our trees.

This is a great time to be out in the neighborhood: as our trees bloom and leaf out, they silently remind us how much they add to our lives.

The shower of pink petals from the cherry blossoms; the emerging fresh new leaves on the maples and copper beeches. Shade from the afternoon sun. They’ve been waiting patiently all winter to remind us they are here. Take a moment to appreciate them.

Each tree has a story: in most cases, years ago, someone intentionally put it there to grow. Like this giant, the Pearson Pine:

The 130-year-old Pearson Pine, a Portland Heritage Tree, presides over the neighborhood from NE 29th and Fremont. Dairyman and farmer Samuel Pearson planted this tree on purpose in that location to mark the corner of his property back in 1885.

In this week’s installment, we get outside to appreciate (and to identify) the trees in our neighborhood, and to meet a few special ones–the Portland Heritage Trees–which have been here a lot longer than we have and will likely still be here when we’re gone (so, be nice to them).

Click below to get started:

Oldest living residents

Home History School | Old School

A young person we know told us recently that it felt funny to say this, but he actually wouldn’t mind being being back to school. This made us smile. Schools contain so much of our lives and our memories. Friends, teachers, the playground, your classroom. The smell of the hallways, the cafeteria, the auditorium.

So this week we’re turning back the clock on a few nearby schools and the neighborhoods that surround them.

Old Vernon School, Art Classroom, about 1915.

These buildings are like time travelers that have seen change all around them: generations of kids who’ve grown up in the hallways; houses springing up here and there; school buildings themselves changing (or, like Kennedy School, closing down altogether).

This week’s activities ask you to explore places you might think you already know everything about–the immediate vicinity of nearby schools– to see and think about change. Click below for the latest installment.

Old School

 

 

 

 

 

Home History School | Find your streetcar

Northeast Portland streets were once alive with streetcars taking neighbors to work, school and play. They were an institution that connected us with the city and with our neighbors. Noisy, drafty, cold in winters but alive with neighbors going places, these electric-powered vehicles were loved by Portlanders, and our system was the envy of the country.

The Beaumont streetcar at the end of the line between Klickitat and Siskiyou on NE 41st Avenue, about 1914. Courtesy City of Portland Archives.

The rise of cars and buses in the 1940s brought an end to streetcars, but if you know where to look, you can still find clues, and there’s lots of photos, memories, maps and even old film to teach us about these times. This week’s activities get you looking for clues, finding your nearest streetcar route and learning about the electric trains that criss-crossed Northeast Portland neighborhoods.

Click below for this week’s installment.

Find Your Streetcar

Home History School | History Detective

When was the last time you had a really good look at the clues from your house’s history? Cooped up with a little extra time on their hands, some AH readers have shared clues they’ve been wondering about, like this one. What the heck is that?

It’s an old central vacuum port, which was an amazing modern luxury when it was installed back in the 19-teens. Central systems, powered by an electric motor in the basement, began to appear by 1910 and by 1915-1920 were fairly common.

To indulge your curiosity and powers of observation–and with a little extra time on your hands to look around–enlist the support of your young historians in this week’s suggestions of things to think about and do. Click in below for this week’s installment:

History Detective: What’s Your Story?

 

 

 

Home History School | Where’s Elwood?

Maybe you have some young people in your world these days looking for things to do to feed their curiosities and continue their learning close to home. As in very close to home. The great pandemic of 2020 has turned our lives upside down in so many ways, and it’s brought your kids’ classroom to your dining room table.

Here’s a sliver of good news: You happen to be living in a century-old time machine on a landscape that has been in constant change and full of opportunities for imagination, exploration, expression, activity and insight.

Each Monday this spring, we’ll provide a weekly focus on local history explorations that include activities and questions to get you going. We think these activities are fun and meaningful for kids of all ages, like us!

We’re starting with Elwood Wiles, a name you probably recognize but can’t quite place (think sidewalks). And each Monday, we’ll provide a similar package of things to do and think about, from using old maps to draw a map of your neighborhood today, to locating a current view from old photos, to exploring local parks in search of their history.

Click into the PDF below to get started…

Where’s Elwood?

 

%d bloggers like this: