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The City of Portland, Oregon

Archives & Records Management

Office of the City Auditor

phone: 503-865-4100


1800 SW 6th Ave, Suite 550, Portland, OR 97201

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Guide to historical City records related to Building Research

Cover of guideWhat was this building used for originally? Who lived here? How can I prove that this has always been a commercial property? What did this neighborhood look like when my great grandfather lived in Portland? These are just a few of the questions people start with when they are doing building research.

Some people research a property they are wanting to purchase, some need to prove a fact before a city permit can be issued, and still others are simply curious about the history of their home. Not all building research can be accomplished at a single archives or institution. Information about property is not centralized and may require different resources depending on the type of information needed. Because it can often be confusing, we have created a guide identifying the most useful records within the City’s archival collections for doing building research.

The Guide is based on the questions we receive from researchers and the resources they have found useful.  We also include information about creative ways records can be used to find the information needed.  For instance, photos documenting fire damage may also capture the building next door, or a Sanborn Insurance map may show that there was a change to the original footprint of a building.

Before you start your building research, read the Guide for guidance on the types of resources available.

The guide is available online and in print.

For information on our hours, location and what to expect when you visit the Archives, click here.