Gresham is a city located in Multnomah County, Oregon, in the United States, immediately east of Portland. Though it began as a settlement in the mid-1800s, it was not officially incorporated as a city until 1905; it was named after Walter Quinton Gresham, the American Civil War general and United States Postmaster General.
The city’s early economy was sustained largely by farming, and by the mid-20th century the city experienced a population boom, growing from 4,000 residents to over 10,000 between 1960 and 1970. The population was 105,594 at the 2010 census, making Gresham the fourth largest city in Oregon.
The area now known as Gresham was first settled in 1851 by the brothers Jackson and James Powell, who claimed land under the Donation Land Claim Act of 1850. They were soon joined by other pioneer families, and the area came to be known as Powell’s Valley. In 1884, a local merchant petitioned the United States Post Office Department for a post office in his store, and offered to name it after Postmaster General Walter Q. Gresham if his request was granted. At the same time, other members of the community secured a post office called “Campground”, another name for the area, referencing the religious camp meeting ground located there and the valley’s usefulness as a stop-off for travelers on their way to Portland. Once the Post Office Department realized its mistake, it revoked the Campground post office.
Gresham was incorporated in 1905, the year of the Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition; its population at the time was 365. Lewis Shattuck, son of a pioneer family, was the first mayor. The town’s economy was fueled largely by farming, including berries, grapes, and vegetables. At the time, trains ran between Gresham and Portland on an hourly basis. Gresham’s early settlers would go on to form the outlying communities of Boring, Sandy, Fairview, and Estacada.
Gresham’s city library, which began as a small book collection in the town’s general store, was officially established as the Gresham Branch Public Library in 1913 with a grant from the Andrew Carnegie library fund.
Gresham General Hospital opened in 1959 in downtown Gresham. In 1984, the hospital moved to Stark Street and became Mount Hood Medical Center.
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