Wednesday, July 3rd 2013

I spent some time this past weekend downtown Portland. Among the activities on the agenda was a tour of the Portland underground and the Shanghai tunnels.

The "Portland Underground" tunnels, more popularly known as the "Shanghai Tunnels", were basements of buildings that connected to other buildings through brick and stone archways that were intersected with tunnels that connected under the streets, linking block to block. These "catacombs" or "tombs", as they were sometimes called, created a unique network of passages and thoroughfares that were used by unscrupulous individuals called "shanghaiiers" or "crimps", in addition to "white slavers" who grabbed women and sold them into prostitution.

This was an illegal maritime practice where able-bodied men --- sailors, loggers, cowboys, sheepherders, ranch hands, construction workers, and vagabonds, in addition to other hard workers who were either employed or who frequented the waterfront, were grabbed or kidnapped and sold to sea captains who forced them to work aboard their ships for no pay. Portland was unique because trap doors (known as "deadfalls") were used to drop the unsuspecting victims into the "Portland Underground", where they were forcibly held in cells until the ship was ready to set sail. From 1850 to 1941, the so-called Victorian-refined Portland was known as the "Unheavenly City" or the "Forbidden City", due to this shocking practice. And, during "Prohibition", the saloons literally went "Underground" and occupied a portion of this so-called "Underground City", creating an even greater opportunity for men to find themselves aboard a ship bound for the Orient.

There are still many people in power who would rather you not ever find out the true history of Portland. I encourage anyone interested to go check it out for yourselves. If you don't want to take the tour yourself, check out the images I've added to my portfolio. I think they're quite interesting.



An opium den in the Portland underground.