Every city has its skeletons, and Portland, Oregon–the one-time shanghai capital of the world–is no exception. This summer, The History Press is delighted to represent the seamier side of the Rose City in Finn J. D. John’s Wicked Portland: The Wild and Lusty Underworld of a Frontier Seaport Town. As Doug Kenck-Crispin asserts in the foreword, if you’re “on the lookout for a riveting, stimulating and, indeed, slightly ribald tale” you’ve come to the right place.
In its youth, Portland, Oregon, combined rough-and-ready logging camp with gritty, hard-punching deep-water port. Lusty lads dallied with hard-eyed beauties in dark alleys, and crimps and captains bartered in blood money for the drunk and drugged. From the seedy waterfront to the notorious North End, Portland’s sin sector offered vices packaged in pint glasses and perfumed corsets. Establishments like Nancy Boggs’s floating bordello and city police chief James Lappeus’ Oro Fino Saloon beckoned to the city’s wastrels and grifters, votes could be bought for the price of a pint and Bunco Kelly’s Mariner’s Rest fronted a shanghai operation. Join Finn J.D. John of the “Offbeat Oregon” column as he reveals the roughest, most colorful era of Portland history, when the Rose City developed an international reputation for violence and lawlessness.