Preview exhibit announced

The Portland Switching District Project will be showing an abbreviated exhibit of photographs at the Portland City Club this spring. The show will be known as the Portland Switching District Project: Preview.

The Portland Switching District Project: Preview is an abbreviated exhibit of photographs from the series on display at the offices of the Portland City Club in Spring, 2011. The photographs selected for this showing are from the Central Eastside Industrial District of the city, an area that may soon experience rapid change following the anticipated opening of the Portland Streetcar extension in 2012.

This preview is meant to raise awareness about the project, and to help raise funds to cover the expenses of creating a larger public display in the CEID coinciding with the streetcar extension opening.

The Portland Switching District Project is a photo documentary of the disappearing traces of Portland’s historic, urban railroad lines. Sometimes known as “switching districts,” these lines were once the arteries of commerce for the city. The Gilded Age heritage of Portland — the wedding-cake cast-iron of Old Town, the great Victorian housing stock, the brooding Romanesque and gleaming Edwardian downtown, all of which we know and love so well — owes its existence to these, the industrial and warehouse districts of the city, districts that were aligned on and served by its railroad switching lines.

Unfortunately, the industrial districts have far less charm value, and so while many great buildings of Gilded Age Portland have been saved, the old industrial areas are often neglected or altered beyond recognition. The purpose of the Portland Switching District Project is to educate the public about the city’s industrial past through the photographic documentation of the remnants of rail heritage remaining in these areas.

The photo documentary is a project undertaken by Portland-born photographer Alexander Craghead. Craghead is a writer, photographer, watercolorist, and self-described “transportation geek” born in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in the National Railroad Historical Society Bulletin, TRAINS magazine, and other national publications. Craghead is a member of the Center for Railroad Photography & Art and a graduate of Marylhurst University. He is currently at work on a documentary of the origin, movement, and destination of grain passing through the ports of the lower Columbia River.

For more information, including hours, directions, and information on the exhibit, see

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